Historical Contextualization Process

The second essay of this semester involved a historical contextualization. In it, we were required to utilize a primary or secondary source to better give context to something within The Tempest. We were given a number of potential sources to use, as well as a direction to start looking for others if we needed them. This essay utilized the close reading skills from the last paper, but was our first step into including outside sources within our reading, which is something present in all the other essays going forward. I felt a little less confident for this essay than the close reading because I lacked much historical knowledge of that time.

The question that pushed me forward in this essay began not from the text, but from the source I chose to utilize. For my source, I chose to look at speeches by Queen Elizabeth I, specifically regarding marriage. My interpretation of these speeches led me to the question “did Elizabeth’s stance on marriage impact how marriage is portrayed in The Tempest?” I began by looking at Claribel, the only female other than Miranda to be mentioned in the play. Her wedding is the catalyst for Alonso and company to be near Prospero’s island, so I looked more into how they refer to it. I also looked at how marriage affected Miranda within the play and how it seems to negatively affect her.

From here, I once again formed a draft  with these ideas in mind, crafting my thesis on how The Tempest critiqued political marriages. I again received feedback, again much of it grammar. However, I also asked for ideas on expanding what I had in the draft, which my peer was able to talk through with me. Much of it involved tying ideas together, and I feel it helped me form a more cohesive argument.

I then made improvements based on my peer review and submitted a draft  to my professor, later receiving more feedback. Much of the feedback regarded not diving into the outside sources well enough. This would be something I would struggle with for much of my essays in the future, much of it stemming from what I felt was enough information that in hindsight is not. The other big critique was that my close readings were shallow. This is something I feel I improved upon in future essays.

I ultimately chose not to further revise this essay, as I felt that the other essays were more interesting and that I could gain more from revising them than just this essay.