Social Scientist. v 4, no. 46 (May 1976) p. 38.


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V ARAVINDAKSHAN

Shakespeare\s Treatment of Tyranny

THE BRISK exchanges of barbed epistles, dismissals, dethronements— "the untimely emptying of the happy throne"—and supplantings; all the proceedings of palace revolutions or coups", the soft but insolent knock on the door accompanied by the brief ominous announcement "Police", arrest and abduction: All this grisly business of our history is done behind the dark cloak of night.1

In The Tempest, Prospero was despatched from Milan at the dead of night. The poor old man, eating "the bitter bread of banishment^ in a bare cell on a remote and haunted new-found-land; recalls the hour

thus:

A treacherous army levied, one midnight Fated to th' purpose, did Antonio open The gates of Milan; and i' th9 dead darkness, The ministers for th' purpose hurried thence Me—and thy crying self.2

Antonio, his own beloved brother, did this when Prospero grew stranger to his state, "being transported and rapt in secret studies^'. Pros-. pero had '"to him put all the manage of (his) estate", and Antonio Being once perfected how to grant suits,



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