Caliban and Ginny – Grappling with Madness

I was interested in the passage from The Tempest that Bennett Marsden recites on page 114. He’s just come from Louisville to gather the debt that Linus owes him – but of course, at this point, Linus has been thoroughly pig-stickered, and Cleome, Zinnia, and Ginny are forced to do their own play-acting as if the household is still in order, black beneath white. The passage is a soliloquy from Act 2, Scene 2 of The Tempest; Caliban comes onto the stage to the clap of thunder, carrying wood and doing chores for his master, Prospero. He’s cursing Prospero and wishing disease and ill fate upon him, even though he knows that Prospero’s spirits hear him (“his spirits hear me, and yet I needs must curse”) and will assail him from all angles, as they have before – like vicious apes, or hedgehogs “that lie tumbling in my barefoot way” to prick at his feet (pg. 114).

The inclusion of this particular passage isn’t careless, I think; Hunt has thoughtfully placed it here to elucidate on the conditions of these characters. There are parallels; Ginny’s time being chained in the shed is marked by her conversations and singing with “spirits,” like Alcofibras, and her dead husband, and even with her father’s foot for a time. The “evil” Ginny references — darkness bred from the violence she gave, and the immorality she saw, and the life lost, seems to plague her from all sides; spirits, memories, voices, songs, stories. Like Caliban, Ginny is bound, and suffering.

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