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Becoming-Ariel: Viewing Julie Taymor’s The Tempest through an Ecocritical Lens

Keywords: The Tempest , Ariel , ecocriticism , Taymor (Julie) , Shakespeare (William) , Deleuze (Gilles) , Guattari (Félix)

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The burgeoning field of ecocriticism takes what Cheryll Glotfelty has referred to as an “earth-centered approach” to cultural productions, with ecocritics sharing a concern with the interconnectedness of human and non-human spheres. This article presents a brief overview of some ecocritical readings of The Tempest, before interpreting Julie Taymor’s cinematographic adaptation in the light of such considerations. Taymor attributes a rather unproblematic power of manipulation of the natural world to her Prospera, yet some of her directorial choices, operating within the specificity of the film medium, tend nonetheless to highlight certain ecocritically-relevant dimensions of Shakespeare’s text. By viewing the film through an ecocritical lens, whilst borrowing terminology from Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, the figure of Ariel can be seen as operating on a “molecular plane” of ontological interconnectivity, in contrast to the “molar mode” of binary oppositions inherent in Prospera’s desire to dominate natural forces.


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