The crisis of pictorial representation is felt most fully in the case of chemical and radioactive contamination. Chemical pollution is often hidden beneath the earth’s surface, in the soil or groundwater, and radiation is imperceptible to human senses except in extreme cases. As Goin says, “I am actually photographing something invisible: radiation.” 19 To further the problem, what is visible in the photograph can be misleading. Goin’s photos of the Pacific atolls show abundant vegetation and clear sea water surrounding highly radioactive Reef Bunkers. 20 Misrach’s Lone Rock, Dawn , from Canto V , is bathed in the warm, soft light of a sun that rises oblivious to the fact that two thirds of the rock has been blown away. Although Misrach has often been accused of aestheticizing his subject, Rebecca Solnit argues that his work opens the observer’s eyes to the deceptive character of beauty or appearance. 21
While Ferdinand’s formality is in some ways endearing, it is also in some ways disturbingly reminiscent of Prospero. Some of Ferdinand’s long speeches, especially the speech about Miranda’s virginity in Act IV, scene i, sound quite similar to the way Prospero speaks. Ferdinand is a sympathetic character, and his love for Miranda seems most genuine when he suddenly is able to break out of his verbose formality and show a strikingly simple interest in Miranda. The reader can see this when he asks Miranda, “What is your name?” (. 36 ). The reader notices it again in Act V, scene i when he jests with her over a game of chess, and when he tells his father, who asks whether Miranda is “the goddess that hath severed us, / And brought us together,” that “she is mortal” (. 190–191 ). Ferdinand agrees to marry Miranda in a scene in which he has been, like Caliban, hauling logs for Prospero. Unlike Caliban, however, Ferdinand has been carrying wood gladly, believing that he serves Miranda. The sweet humbleness implicit in this belief seems to shine through best at the times when Ferdinand lets go of his romantic language.