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A few years ago, we studied the London Paralympics Opening Ceremony with our English teacher. The following words (spoken by Sir Ian McKellen if I remember well) are still echoing in my mind:

Miranda, go out into the world.

Will you be for all of us gathering here, our eyes, our ears, and our hearts?

(see here for the transcript)

This quote is apparently somehow related to the Tempest by Shakespeare. Our teacher explained us how beautiful he thought the expression "to go out into the world" was. He took it as a motivation for us to: 1. read Shakespeare one day (even if we are not native English speakers), 2. actually go out into the world!

So a few years later, I actually went out a little bit into the world and started to read Shakespeare and in particular the Tempest. (He was a brilliant teacher!) But I was disappointed not to find in the Tempest the beloved words. You can look at the text by yourself, they are not there!

And it also seems to me that it is not really implied that Prospero gives to Miranda such a great freedom as to go out into the world. Yes, she will escape her father's authority, leave the island and discover this "brave new world". But I don't see how she will be the "eyes, ears and hearts" of Prospero and others.

So I have a few questions:

  • What is the origin of the text pronounced at the opening ceremony if it doesn't come directly from the Tempest?

  • Is it at least consistent with the story of the Tempest? Why?

  • Was the expression "to go out into the world" actually coined by Shakespeare? In which text?

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According to the Michael Coveney, a theater critic writing in the Wednesday 29 August 2012| Independent, Sir Ian McKellan lost his script and improvised.

Theatre critic's view: Sir Ian McKellen improvises as Miranda floats past during the Paralympics opening ceremony

But he'd lost his script, so he improvised a modern imprecation, telling his daughter, Miranda, floating by in a flying wheelchair, to "go out into the world…and shine your light on to the beautiful diversity of humanity".

It was literate, but it wasn't Shakespeare. And – sorry to be a party-pooper at the friendly games – it was, well, a bit banal.

Sir Ian remained in long shot and didn't act remotely sonorous, which was something. Perhaps he was in a sulk: Prospero's lines had been nicked, after all, at last month's opening ceremony by Ken Branagh.

The article contains a great picture of Sir Ian, and goes on to describe Stephen Hawking commanding Miranda to "be curious".

I didn't find the origin of the expression "go out into the world", but "the world is your oyster" was coined by Shakespeare in "The Merry Wives of Windsor". See What is the meaning and origin of the common phrase "the world is your oyster"?

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  • But the common meaning of "the world's your oyster" is rather different than what Shakespeare intended (at least as I read it). "Why, then the world's mine oyster, Which I with sword will open." - That is, the world's not a gift, but something Pistol means to take by force.
    – jamesqf
    Apr 26, 2016 at 18:02
  • @jamesqf Quoting from one of the answers in the reference I gave "We inherit the phrase, absent its original violent connotation, to mean that the world is ours to enjoy."
    – ab2
    Apr 26, 2016 at 18:06
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It's possible that, having lost his script, Sir Ian subconciously recalled lines heard in his youth:

Go forth into the world in peace;
be of good courage;
hold fast to that which is good;
render to no one evil for evil;
strengthen the fainthearted; support the weak;
help the afflicted; honour all men;
love and serve the Lord,
rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit;

Unfortunately the adaptation from 1 Thessalonians 5 is anonymous, although a blog post attributes it originally to American Episcopalians in the 1890s. Even though that benediction was not officially adopted at the time, it was taken up by Presbyterians of a similar ilk to his own family connections.

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