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The Tempest - William Shakespeare

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Genre: Drama / Poetry / Criticism / Author: William Shakespeare / Edition: New Ed / Paperback / 112 Pages / Book is published 1994-08-25 by Penguin Classics

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    Your dooyooMiles Miles

    10 Reviews
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      29.05.2011 00:00
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      Good play, worth a read!

      The Tempest is believed to be William Shakespeare's final play, written around 1611. Rather notably, it is the first of all of Shakespeare's works to use the dramatic unities - unity of time, unity of location and unity of action. For a play to conform to the unities, the play must take place in the natural progression of time, the location must remain the same, and there should only be one real plotline. The Tempest technically has two locations; at sea and then the island. The time almost conforms to the length of the play - it takes two hours to perform the play, and the action supposedly takes place over 4 hours, and the plot is focused on Prospero getting home.

      This sounds pretty unimportant, but it is such a sharp contrast to Shakespeare's other plays. Think of Hamlet; it is set across 3 months, in numerous different locations, and there are multiple plotlines which contribute to the stories; think of Fortinbras, and his plotline, which provides nothing in the story of Hamlet's quest for revenge.

      Overall, The Tempest is a very enjoyable play. It is set upon an island, and focuses on the story of Prospero, the ousted Duke of Milan who was washed onto the island with his daughter Miranda. The main plot is his mission regain his position of power. To do so, he conjures a storm and runs the ship containing the King of Naples and the new Duke of Milan (his brother) into the island, manipulating the characters until they all eventually do his bidding.

      One of the prime aspects of the play is Caliban, a slave of Prospero. An interesting statement on the dangers of colonialization, which was in it's infancy when Shakespeare was writing, Caliban was the previous owner of the island, who is raised by Prospero but eventually attempts to rape his daughter. While he is now seen as requiring sympathy, Caliban has historically been one of the 'bad guys' in the play.

      I would be lying if I said this was my favourite Shakespeare play, but it is far from the worst. It is more interesting from an academic perspective than it is from a performance perspective, and personally, I'd recommend the more popular plays such as Hamlet or Macbeth if you're interested in seeing Shakespeare performed.

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      28.11.2010 13:58

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      Would make much more sense to watch a visual adaptation

      The Tempest is a book I studied last year and in truth its another Shakespeare play which I cant stand I understand it as a text but believe a play should remain as a play and not be read as a book. On this matter I'd much rather see an visual adaptation of the play rather than read the old English phrases which have pretty much faded completely from modern society.

      The idea of the supernatural is complex and also risky for a play during this era I wonder how he managed to portray the supernatural without the special effects we have available today. On reading the play I found myself getting confused by the main plot and the side story which is typical in Shakespeares work.

      When breaking down the play we introduced to Prospero the wronged duke of Milan after his brother Antonios usurpation of his power. On reading we are lead to believe that Prospero causes the tempest that results in Antonio and other characters brought to the deserted island which is currently occupied by Prospero and his daughter Miranda.

      Throughout the text Prospero is suggested to hold supernatural power on the island which is said to be related to the island. In the text Shakespeare explores colonialism with Caliban who becomes Prosperos slave. Caliban is presented as barbaric and in genral representing the views of the natives during the discovery of America. Shakespeare use Miranda to add romance to the story with her falling in love with Ferdinand which is also arranged through Prosperos supernatural powers.

      I firmly believe that this text is hard to read for enjoyment and feel the need to stress that such a complex play needs to be visually experienced to really make sense of what's happening at al times.

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      29.04.2009 20:46
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      A superb Shakespeare play

      The Tempest by William Shakespeare is another piece of literature that I have had to read as part of my degree and I must admit one of the pieces I was most looking forward to. In general I must admit that I am quite a lover of plays and really enjoy both reading and watching plays by Shakespeare, Webster and Marlowe. Because of this I hit this play running so to speak and threw myself whole-heartedly into devouring it and must admit that I am so pleased that I did.

      The Tempest tells the story of Prospero who after loosing his dukedom because of his love of books and the power they gave up ended up washed up on an island with his daughter Miranda. Upon this island he came across Caliban a savage who he taught to speak English. It is here that he also conjured up spirits.

      Prospero as you may have now gathered has some degree of magical powers which it s believed come from his books. These powers enable him to control the spirits as well as the weather. With these powers he conjures up a tempest, which shipwrecks a nearby boat on the island - upon this boat is the very people that sent him to the island and Prospero bears a grudge.

      However despite his powers Prospero didn't count on Miranda falling in love and also failed to realise the cunning of all those around him.

      The Tempest is in my opinion a wonderfully written play in so many respects. It is lyrical yet fitting to each character and from the very beginning the phrasing captures the audience. The play's epilogue is however the most perfect piece of writing throughout the play and both tidies the play up and concludes it in a powerful way. It is said however that this play's epilogue was merely Shakespeare's way of saying that this was to be his last main play and that his characters are no longer speaking for him. Knowing this when reading the section does taint the ending a little for me though so I try not to think about it.

      Continuing on the theme of writing and language the play has so many memorable lines, which quite shocked me. I'm not saying they're lines that everyone will know but they are ones that are frequently quoted by Shakespearean's and other language scholars. This in my opinion is merely a testimony to the wonderful lyricism of the play and can't understand why it isn't remembered more. Most people have heard of 'To be or not to be' from Hamlet but how many have heard of 'Remember first to take his books for without them he is but a sot as I am' or 'when all my charms are o'erthrown and the strength I haves mine own' and both of these are far more poetic.

      The language in the play though can also be a problem for some people because for those unaccustomed to Shakespearean language interpreting what exactly is being said can be difficult. All I can say about this however is that the more such piece of work you read the easier it becomes and The Tempest is in my opinion one of the easier ones to read, as a starter piece.

      The play isn't only interesting however from a linguistic perspective but also from a character one, as each individual within the action of the play is unique and brings with them their own themes for contention with the scenes. Prospero is of course the lead character but Caliban is personally my favourite because it is through him that themes such as colonial displacement and native culture can be seen and it is these that interest me the most.

      I recognise that Shakespeare isn't everyone's cup of tea and will even go as far as to say that I wasn't particular a Shakespeare fan until a year or so ago but this play along with Hamlet have made my mind up for me - I'm definitely going to specialise in Shakespeare at University over the next two years. If this play can do that for me what can it do for you?

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        16.02.2009 20:56
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        Possibly Shakespeares best play?

        Wow what a great play, its actually thrilling which is rare for an oldie play! The characters develop well throughout the play

        Characters
        ----------------
        Prospero
        · Aged 40 - 45 but looks older
        · Name means to be 'prosperus' and to bring ' good fortune'
        · Learned, intelligent man
        · Deposed from his position as the duke of Milan by his brother Antonio
        · Usually dressed as a magician or wizard to symbolise his knowledge
        · Living in exile on the island for the last 12 years


        Miranda
        · Prospero's daughter aged 15
        · Mother died in childbirth
        · Name means a mirror or wonder in Latin
        · Living with her father on the island


        Ariel
        · Ariel is a spirit
        · An original inhabitant of the island
        · Usually played by a singer, a dancer or a gymnast
        · Often staged flying through the air
        · Sings


        Caliban
        · Aged 24
        · Name means cannibal, uncivilized and Son of the witch Sycorax who ruled the island until her death
        · Also an original inhabitant of the island
        · Often portrayed as part man part beast, deformed, hunchbacked with fins. Can be showed as a Negro or a North American Indian
        · The actor will always play the part close to the ground
        · Ariel and Caliban are contrasted


        Antonio
        · Prospero's brother
        · Betrayed prospero to his enemy the duke of Naples
        · Had prospero and Miranda placed in a rotting boat and sent drifting out to sea and to their deaths
        · He is now the duke of Milan




        Gonzalo
        · A kindly noble gentleman
        · Made the boat seaworthy hence saving their lives
        · Friend to Alonso the king of Naples
        Alonso
        · King of Naples
        · Enemy to prospero
        · Daughter newly married to the king of Tunisia
        · Hew is returning from the wedding when his ship is caught in the storm: The tempest


        Sebastian
        · King Alonso's brother
        · Evil


        Trinkulo
        · Name means to drink heavily
        · He is king Alonso's jester, joker
        · Usually wears a pointed hat and bells


        Stephano
        · King Alonso's butler
        · He is usually drunk

        Well I've told you a little about the characters but heres a bit more about Prospero...
        Prospero: Loving Father or revengeful Tyrant

        Right from the beginning of the play "The Tempest" by William Shakespeare, the main character, Prospero appears to be an intriguing, diverse personality.
        For much of the play he displays a loving tender nature, which is evident in his affection for his daughter Miranda.
        In act 1 we see this side to his character very clearly as he explains to her that they are stranded on this mysterious island because he had his dukedom, Milan, taken from him by his evil brother Antonio. He reassures Miranda that everything he is doing is for her future well being as he loves her so dearly. Prospero cannot understand why Antonio has treated him this way, a brother whom he used to adore and care for.
        Further on in the play we once again see Prospero showing his loving and caring nature as he persistently reminds Miranda how much he loves her. He tells her that when they were cast away, her smile was what kept him going and gave him the will to live.
        Prospero also shows his thoughtful and emotional nature when he first comes to the island as he takes Caliban, the son of the evil witch Sycorax, into his cell. Caliban remembers how Prospero would "strok'st" him and "made much of him". Later on, yet again in this scene, Prospero shows his thoughtfulness when he remembers that Caliban tried to rape Miranda. This shows that Prospero is always contemplating things, even things that happened a long time ago.
        In act 1, we see another clear example of Prospero's affectionate nature. When the love and consideration that King Alonso's son, Ferdinand and Miranda show towards each other, moves him.
        Later on Prospero again shows how much he loves his daughter, although he does not want to let her go, he feels that Ferdinand is a worthy husband for her. Prospero tells Ferdinand that he is worthy to take 'a third of' his 'own life' meaning that he can marry Miranda. The phrase 'a third of' suggests that along with himself and Miranda there is one other important part of his life. Although we are not told what this third part is he could either be referring to an estranged wife/Miranda's mother, his dukedom, Milan, or even his magical 'art'!
        Also Prospero warns against having sex with Miranda before they are married
        'If thou dost break her virgin knot'
        During this phrase prospero uses many short and sharp words to show Ferdinand how serious he is.
        In act 4 Prospero shows a deep feeling of love and affection towards his servant Ariel. Ariel speaks to Prospero and asks if he loves her, without hesitation Prospero replies 'dearly my delicate Ariel'. The adverb 'dearly' and adjective 'delicate' are both very personal and very soft sounding words that show Prospero has feelings for Ariel.
        Towards the end of the play Prospero exhibits his thoughtful and grateful nature towards Gonzalo, ironically a friend of King Alonso (the man who helped Antonio to overthrow him!) He remembers how Gonzalo 'The noble Neapolitan' saved his and Miranda's life by patching up the derelict boat that they were cast away in. Prospero speaks of Gonzalo as being a 'Noble Neapolitan' the word noble shows the respect and depth of feeling for the man who saved his life.

        However his revengeful, authorotive nature is clearly portrayed throughout the play.
        Although he clearly loves his daughter he enjoys having a sense of control over her and is quick to ask her 'dost thou hear?' and I pray thee mark me' when he feels that she may not be paying him her full attention!
        Prospero later says that the people of Milan loved him, but throughout the play there is no evidence of this. When he ruled Milan he almost certainly liked to be in complete control but ruling in this way would not make the people love him!
        Throughout the play Ariel, the sprite rescued from the evil witch Sycorax, does Prospero's bidding for him, he says he loves her yet he accuses the 'malignant thing' of lying. The word 'malignant' shows how badly Prospero treats people when he is angry. Malignant is a very derogatory term showing at this moment Prospero has a great deal of hatred for Ariel.
        Prospero has a very arrogant nature. He likes to think that he is a superior being. He believes that his 'art' is more powerful than that of the evil witch Sycorax, who used to inhabit the island; because he freed Ariel from a small tree that Sycorax had confined her to he believes that he has stronger magic.
        Prospero controls Caliban by violence, he says that he will '...rack thee bones with old cramps' if Caliban does not do what he commands him to. This is again an example of Prospero using his powers to be in control; 'with old cramps' means Prospero will give Caliban arthritis.
        Prospero likes to control events with his 'art' ensuring that he is in control for the entire time. Prospero especially enjoys it when people are amazed by his power and magic, especially when Ferdinand was amazed at the masque that Prospero had created.
        Prospero is very manipulative and always thinking of himself. He is pleased when he sees that his plan to bring together Miranda and Ferdinand is succeeding, but he is not pleased that Miranda has fallen in love... he is pleased because his Grandchildren will be heirs to the throne in Naples and Milan so he will be able to return to civilisation.
        Near the end of the play we once again see how easily angered he is. Prospero is engrossed in the masque that the nymphs are performing; he is so engrossed that he completely forgets about Caliban, Trinkulo and Stephano who are plotting against him. When Prospero remembers Caliban's plot to kill him, he abruptly stops the masque and tells Ariel they must go and prepare for Caliban's attack. Prospero gets extremely angry- possibly because he has been in complete command for the whole play but now he is ill prepared and no longer in control.

        In conclusion, having read the play, I think that Prospero is a very affectionate man towards his daughter and really loves her, but he also has a very authorotive and revengeful side, which he frequently shows towards his enemies.
        During his stay on the island he has learned that he must forgive people and has realised that he must stop being selfish. Prospero selfishly abandoned Milan as he was too engulfed in his magic, but he now realises that his people should have come before his own personal needs.
        It has now become clear to him that being selfish can lead to unfortunate circumstances.
        Towards the end of the play Prospero has become a changed man. He sees that he had to change and learn to forgive in order for Miranda and Ferdinand's marriage to be successful as Ferdinand is the son of King Alonso. The phrase
        'The rarer action is
        In virtue than in vengeance'
        shows that Prospero has learned forgiveness is a better option.
        Prospero has made one great sacrifice- letting go of his daughter. Now that Miranda is going to get married Prospero realises that he will see much less of the child he adores so much.
        It is a very symbolic moment when Prospero gives up his 'art', he removes his magic garments and changes back into what he wore in Milan, this shows that he has realised that relationships and communication are more important than his 'art'.

        I dont want to spoil the story line so I have just run through some of the themes instead!


        Themes
        -------------
        Supernatural
        · At this period of time (1600) people believed in the supernatural as they were uneducated and science had not developed to give rational explanations for events that happened.
        · They believed that there were white witches and wizards derived from god.
        · Prospero's 'magic', 'art' symbolises the moral, spiritual and intellectual values of a superior civilization.
        · He uses his magic so that all characters learn the error of their ways and change for the better by the end of the play. 'Harmony': Peace
        · He also uses his powers to create entertainment for his daughter.
        · There was also black magic: of the devil!


        The Mysterious work of god
        · Note the many references in the play to god and prayer
        · To blaspheme at sea was to take gods grace from the ship and hence it would be doomed.

        Music
        · People at that time believed that music was able to bring about harmony, and would make all people civil, noble and well balanced.
        · Music constantly fills the air in the play

        Revenge and forgiveness


        Government and responsibility of power
        · The play shows how personal ambition can disrupt government and law
        · It shows how society can disintegrate into chaos and confusion if not well governed. It shows that a head of state must sacrifice his own private interests for the good of the people he serves
        · It considers the responsibility of people who found new lands and the way they treated the native inhabitants who lived there.
        Civility and savagery: master and servant
        · The play shows that people have a moral duty to treat people equally
        · Shakespeare justifies colonisation as it brought art,order,intelligence and religion to native inhabitants.
        · However he suggests that by educating them there is a risk of corrupting them
        · Shakespeare questions whether it is possible to change eons nature by nurture.

        Civility and savagery: master and servant

        · The play shows that people have a moral duty to treat people equally
        · Shakespeare justifies colonisation as it brought art, order, intelligence and religion to native inhabitants.
        · However he suggests that by educating them there is a risk of corrupting them
        · Shakespeare questions whether it is possible to change ones nature by nurture


        Golden age
        · The play shows Shakespeare's nostalgia for a perfect world that was supposedly in existence a long time ago where war, work, laws social and political organisations were not needed as everyone lived in harmony together: A garden of Eden: paradise
        · The island is seen as this idealistic place: a place of wonder somewhere new with exotic flora and fauna

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        16.10.2008 18:35
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        One of the greatest plays - shouldn't be condemned because it's read in school

        Desperate men cling to their ship, and the last remnants of their faith, as a supernatural storm of Old Testement proportions swallows their vessel.

        This must be one of the best starts to a Shakespearean play, up there with Francisco and Bernado cowering on the battlements of Elsinor. No hunch-backed psychopath telling us he's upset, no narrator apologising for the limitations of the theatre, just the screams of the desperate and the sneers of aristocrats who think they're too important to drown.

        So begins one of Shakespeare's finest tales - The Tempest. If you have children, your first encounter with this play might have been their throwing it across the room as they fought to understand it for SATs, GCSEs or A Levels. Another generation of potential fans lost, as it is force-fed like the literary equivalent of pate. Maybe you have experiences of it yourself, forgotten and gladly so.

        Well, dig it out and give it another go, because this play has everything. It's got magic; it's got love; it's got revenge; it's got liberty plucked from the grasp of desperation. If you can allow yourself to negotiate the language - and in places it's so beautiful, you'll be glad you did - you will be transported into a wonderful, magic and stark world.

        The tempest at the beginning of the play has been roused by Prospero, or rather he has commanded his ethereal servant, Ariel to do so. The ship he has just sunk contains his brother, Antonio, the King of Naples, Alonso, and a host of other Lords and low-lifes.

        Prospero has sunk the vessel, but spared the lives of all aboard because he wants revenge on his brother and Alonso. This he explains to his distraught daughter, Miranda, who has watched the storm from the island she inhabits with him. Antonio and Alonso had plotted ten years earlier, when Prospero had been the Duke of Milan. He was too busy learning about magic to notice Antonio growing in power, and was eventually overthrown.

        Antonio commanded Prospero and Miranda to be executed, but they were saved by a loyal retainer, Gonzalo - also on the sunken vessel - and pushed out to sea, with nothing but a few provisions and Prospero's magic books. They came to the enchanted island, where Prospero overthrew a witch, Sycorax, and imprisoned her son, Caliban.

        Prospero's one desire is to torment Antonio and Alonso, possibly kill them. Ten years has been a long time to think about this and he is going to savour it. What he doesn't count on is the actions of some of the other characters...or maybe he does - you decide :)

        First of all, Ferdinand, Alonso's son, is seperated from his father and wanders the island believing everyone is dead. He stumbles upon Miranda, and the two fall in love. To be fair, Miranda has only had the mis-shapen Caliban and androgenous Ariel as a guide to masculinity, so this is a definite improvement.

        It seems Prospero has engineered this encounter, but he wants to check that Ferdinand's intentions towards his daughter are honorable, so he takes him prisoner and puts him to work, chopping wood and other strenuous tasks, where Miranda can see him working up a manly sweat.

        In addition to Ferdinand, two lesser characters have found their way ashore. Stefano, the King's butler, and Trinculo, his jester, meet up with each other and get drunk. By accident, they find Caliban who, on tasting alcohol for the first time, assumes they are gods. The trio decide to overthrow Prospero and rule the island themselves.

        Ariel overhears this and reports it to Prospero. He also overhears two of Alonso's retinue plotting to kill the King, and passes this along. Prospero vows to free Ariel after he has punished all guilty parties. Ariel is delighted by this and puts Alonso, Antonio and all their party into a trance, leading them to Prospero's cave.

        At this point you and I might disagree - you might say to me 'To be or not to be...' is the finest soliloquey in English. I would argue it is Prospero's speech, 'Ye elves of hills...'. Here is my argument. Hamlet is a whining brat who might get Freud to raise an eyebrow on a slow day in Vienna.

        Prospero has it all - he has absolute power, the things he has hated for ten years standing in front of him, and nothing left to aspire to. In his speech, an invocation to all the spirits (and the audience), he decides to relinquish magic and forgive all those who have wronged him - it's like Superman letting Zod go, settling down to work in Metropolis and marrying Lois.

        Read it once, then read it again in the knowledge that it's Shakespeare talking about himself giving up writing. It'll send shivers down your spine.

        So, now all our characters are in one place, Prospero forgives everyone, agrees to let Ferdinand marry Mirando and lets Ariel go. He doesn't completely reach a happy resolution with Caliban, but there is a lot of bad blood between them.

        Finally, another moment of theatrical magic. Prospero steps forward and asks the audience for their applause if they deem his performance worthy. In rhyming couplets, he wishes everyone well and, having given freedom to all those who sought his end, requests the audience to free him too.

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          03.08.2003 05:27
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          The Tempest begins with the exiled Lord of Milan, Prospero (who seems a little short on sanity), conjuring up a(n imaginery) storm to shipwreck King Alonso of Naples and his followers, who include Prospero's backstabbing brother and Alonso's son, in vengeance for his exile. When Alonso and his followers recover, they have been separated into three groups. Ferdinand, Alonso's son, who subsequently meets and falls in love with Prospero's beautiful daughter Miranda. The second group consists of Alonso's drunken butler (Stefano) and jester (Trinculo) who come upon Caliban, a savage and deformed native of the island who is Prospero's slave. The remaining group consists of Alonso and his followers, who fear the death of Ferdinand and begin searching the island in the hope that he is alive. Prospero, now an accomplished magician, has various spirits serving him, the principal being Ariel, awaiting freedom from his master's service. Ferdinand undergoes several trials before Prospero displays his consent to the Prince marrying Miranda. Caliban, coming upon Stefano and Trinculo in boisterous drinking moods, mistakes them for gods and persuades them to murder Prospero and become King's of the island, a plot that is foiled by Prospero's spirits. Two of Alonso's companions decide to commit regicide, but once again this is failed by Prospero's spirits, who watch and divert the company to give Ferdinand time to complete his tasks for Miranda's hand. Ultimately the three groups unite and Prospero forgives them all in a remarkable show of benevolence. Remarkably, this play is based upon a true story, that of an expedition of nine ships taking 500 colonists from Plymouth to Virginia circa 1609. The flagship, the 'Sea-Adventure', was wrecked and presumed lost in a storm on the coast of Bermuda. However, those aboard managed to make their way safely to Jamestown, Virginia, after having found shelter on the island
          of Bermuda where they were able to b uild pinnaces to complete their journey. It was first performed in Whitehall, on November the 1st 1611, in front of James I. Although I found the play enchanting, vivid and interesting, by the end I was wondering why Prospero hadn't just returned to Naples and demanded an apology which the King would clearly have given whilst in tears and the play could have lasted only a few minutes. The character's, relationships and imaginative context gave such promise, but the plot, giving ample reason for graphic vengeance, seemed to end rather limply with Prospero forgiving everyone, even though his own brother had continued to attempt treacherous acts, with no real penance on their part.

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            04.02.2002 18:08
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            The Tempest is a fascinating play, blenidng large scale politics with the personal, drawing on strong natural imagery and dabbline with magic - lots of the best Shakespeare ingredients. Obvious comparions can be made with "A MIdsummer Night's dreams" but this is by far the more focused text, and has a far smaller cast. The Plot: Prospero is the rightful Duke of Milan, but due to some politicking, he's an exile, trapped on a small island with his daughter. Fate, chance or mahgic brings a boat to flounder on the island's shore - on that boat is Ferdinand, son of the King of Naples, and the Duke who userped Prospero, amongst others. On the island, there is confusion, romance and resolution. being a comedy, it ends with reconiliation and marriage, in a quite touching scene. Prospero is the character who interests me most - not only is he a powerful political figure in exile, he is also clearly a magician of sorts who has bound spirits to his service - Ariel (yes, jsut like a certain powder) is one such being, a very fey creature, who, like Puck helps to keep the plot moving. There is also Caliban, a grotesque, and often savage being who is Prospero's slave. Prospero is clearly a learned man, and a good one. Most human dabbling in magic do not fare as well as he in Shakespeare's plays, which is something of interest. Miranda, daughter of Prospero caught the pre-Raphaelite imagination (there are a few paintings of her) Growing up on an island, she knows nothing of the world, and has only ever seen her father. The arrival of Ferdinand throws her feelings into confusion, and she soon falls in love. A wonderfully romantic figure and a real innocent. Caliban - not a majopr character, but a dark presence that permeates the play. He is crude and ugly, the opposite of everything Miranda and Prospero represent. He is base, angry and troubling. His status as a slave is not a comfortable one for the modern reader,
            and we must ask how deeply Prospero is implicated in Caliban's condition. Caliban presents prospero as a tyran who has userped hiw ownership of the island and eslaved him. Not only does this fuel the tension in the plot, but there may well be some truth in it. it is Caliban's innate foulness that makes the audience less inclined to take his part, but looking closely at the text, he may well be justified in his complaint. The Island, with its magical inhabitants, represents a space where matters can be resolved. There is often an inclination in work from the period to represent rural environments as places of peace. The island is not entirely benevolent in nature, with its storms and spirits, but it does function as a place for peace and love. Back when I was wee small, I saw a production of this that had a cast of I think about eight - there are several parties from the boat, who, seperated, wander the island. However, in the last scene, they all come together for a showdown. The cast handled this by runign back and forth across the stage, in what was one of the funniest performances I have ever encountered. On the surface, this is a lighthearted tale of love and reconciliation, with a bit of clowning about and magic thrown in to liven things up. There are deeper themes, as I've tried to suggest above, and as with most Shakespeare plays, there is scope for taking it on a range of levels. This is quite a readable play - there aren't too many characters to keep track of, so its not hard to take from the page. Much better to see it live of course, if you can. A few things that might be of interest: "The Tempest" was transformed into futuristic science fiction in the form of the film "Forbidden Planet" which contians much the same plot, and makes for an interesting comparrison. This was again revised to produce the hit West end Musical "Return to the Forbidden plannet" which is
            a very funny piece, with some stunning misquotes. "What light through yonder airlock breaks?" The other thing I would recomend taking a look at is John Fowles excellent book "The Collector" which features a girl called Miranda trapped by an odious man, and plays with themes and motifes from "The Tempest". reading this book actually does help to develop insght into the play, and make sense of the book, it really does help if you have read the Shakepseare.

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              21.11.2000 21:55

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              The “Tempest” is, of all Shakespeare’s plays, probably the most interesting and in depth, it manages, despite having the most boring scene two in Shakespeare, to combine political intrigue, a thorough discussion of Machiavellian techniques with a, somewhat tinted, love story. The tale is set entirely on a small island, the disposed duke of Milan (Prospero) has raised his only daughter on this island for many years, by a stroke of luck all his rivals happen to be sailing past his island. Using the magic he has learned over his sojourn Prospero brings his brother (who deposed him), the king of Naples (who helped his brother) and his old and trusted friend Gonzalo, onto the island. He creates an almighty storm, which is entirely in the minds of his victims, and they abandon ship. The king’s son Ferdinand, falls in love with Prospero’s daughter Miranda, and the two plan to wed. Amidst all of this there Shakespeare expresses the concerns he has with colonisation, and lightens the mood with the introduction of two drunkards. The play is packed full of warnings to the king of England, and is captivating throughout. Well worth the price of admission.

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              16.09.2000 05:49
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              I don't want to provoke a Bard war, so I won't say that this is the best, merely my favourite Shakespeare. As his career comes to an end, Shakey seems to be experimenting: 'A Winter's Tale' is half tragedy, half comedy, with the pivotal arrival of a bear suddenly rushing the play into farce. 'The Tempest' tries to mesh the two together all the way through. Prospero is marooned on an island by his enemies, and years later, uses his magic to bring them to him. Prospero could be a tragic figure, a man consumed by his hatred and ultimately destroyed by it. Miranda is a perfect victim, an innocent like Desdemona or Cordelia, but it doesn't quite end up like that. The opening is dynamite, with Prospero firing off the story to set the scene, and as soon as the visitors arrive, the play goes like the clappers. A lot of the fairy magic stuff that comes off as twee in 'Midsummer Night's Dream' works beautifully here, largely because Ariel is far less fey than previous sprites. Shakespeare's intent to blend styles is perfectly summed up in Caliban, who can be absolutely loathsome (recounting his attempts on Miranda with glee, and thanking Prospero for his ability to curse), and then become a comedy stooge for the servants, while remaining the whole time a coherent character. And at the end, when it all comes together, with almost everyone reconciled, it's really weird, because this is Shakey's last complete play, and it looks like he's trying to tie lots of things up. I don't think I've adequately described what it is I like about 'The Tempest' - there's just a magic to it, a mature beauty in the language which tops a lot of his other plays (even 'Hamlet'), and to see it done well on stage is something that every fan of Shakespeare should experience at least once.

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                06.09.2000 06:07
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                An enchanted isle is the scene for Shakespeare's most extravagant, mystical and magical tale of sin, repentance and love. I have read quite a few of Shakespeare's works, but this is by far the best he has written, well that a personal opinion but I do truly believe this. The play is set on an enchanted island, where the rightful Duke of Milan(Prospero) lives with his daughter(Miranda), because he was banished by his evil brother who took over Dukedom while Prospero followed his studies in magic. Living on this isolated island for over a decade, Prospero as mastered his magical skills and Miranda is now a young lady. The isle itself is enchanted by spirits, such as Ariel, who Prospero freed out of the power of the evil Sycorax who once ruled the isle. Ariel became Prospero's abiding servant who wants to repay his master for the freedom he gave him. Sycorax's son(Caliban)is a creature who is brutal and needs to be controlled, so Prospero controls him and Caliban becomes his unabiding servant, completing manual labour such as wood carrying. Then one day, The evil brother Antonio(the wrongful Duke of Milan)becomes within reach of Prospero's magical power, so he and his companions are ship-wrecked by a tempest stirred up by Prospero, hence the title of the play. There starts a story of love, comedy and forgivness. I will not go into great detail and spoil the story, but I would highly recommend this play to everyone. It is much better than The Merchant of Venice, Hamlet or even Romeo and Juliet! You have to read it to believe it, but DO read it!

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                Alonso (the King of Naples), his brother Sebastian, his son Ferdinand, Antonio's counselor Gonzalo, and Antonio (brother of Prospero, the usurped Duke of Milan) are on a ship with sailors caught in a tempest at sea. The storm scares all of the nobleman to abandon ship, fearing it split in half. When the storm subsides, the exiled Duke Prospero and his daughter Miranda appear on the island they have inhabited for 12 years. Miranda tells him she saw the ship crack in the storm, but Prospero calms her, explaining it was a magical illusion he created. He explains he was once Duke of Milan, but his brother Antonio took over when he began deeply studying literature, eventually teaming with Alonso to banish Prospero and Miranda and abandon them at sea, where they luckily landed on the island and survived since Gonzalo had given Prospero money, clothes, and his sorcerer books in the boat. Now, he explains, his enemies have sailed by, so he created the tempest to shipwreck them. He causes her to sleep and calls his spirit Ariel to come. Ariel verifies that the nobles are safe on the island, while their ship is deep in a hidden harbor with the crew asleep; further, the remainder of the fleet has returned to Naples believing Alonso is dead. We learn that Prospero rescued Ariel from the foul witch Sycorax and will free Ariel himself when his plans for the nobles are complete. Sycorax had imprisoned Ariel in a tree for refusing to do her evil, then, after her death, Prospero freed him. She also had a deformed son, Caliban, whom Prospero commands as his slave (Note that Caliban anagrams from a slightly misspelled canibal). Hidden, Ariel sings a song and scares Alonso's son Ferdinand as he wanders around the island, eventually meeting Prospero and Miranda. Both Miranda and Ferdinand immediately fall in love, but Prospero (although approving) pretends to be gruff and critical toward Ferdinand.