The Tempest Research Paper
The Tempest The Tempest is a play written by the legendary, William Shakespeare. It is disputed if whether or not it was the last play he wrote in 1611, perhaps fascinating his audience for the last time. The play falls under the romance (tragicomedy) category which designates it to be a tragedy and a comedy cleverly intertwined. Not unlike his other plays, Shakespeare wrote The Tempest in iambic pentameter with the exception of some prose here and there. This mysterious tale is very deserving of its acclamation, from both the modern and Elizabethan ages. Time Period
Shakespeare wrote and published this play in the early seventeenth century, known by most as the late renaissance era. The Renaissance is usually distinguished as a time of revolutionary culture starting in Italy and spreading outward to the rest of Europe. During the Renaissance, play-writers began to exaggerate the word “drama,” whereas blending tragedy and comedy became a much simpler task for Shakespeare. The Tempest was one of the tragicomedies within this trend. The story takes place on an island in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Italy, and makes important references to Naples, Milan, Carthage, and Tunis.
These references help readers understand the time-in-history of the play. This is best represented when Prospero tells Miranda about how they got to the island: To have no screen between this part he played And him he played it for, he needs will be Absolute Milan. Me, poor man, my library Was dukedom large enough. Of temporal royalties He thinks me now incapable, confederates— So dry he was for sway—wi’ th’ King of Naples To give him annual tribute, do him homage, Subject his coronet to his crown and bend The dukedom yet unbowed—alas, poor Milan! — To most ignoble stooping. (Crowther, I. ii. 07-116) The Tempest was one of the more remarkable Shakespearean plays that resulted from the Renaissance period. Shakespeare’s Connection William Shakespeare is probably the most famous play-writer of all time. Out of all the plays he wrote, Only four were romances: Pericles, Cymbeline, The Winter’s Tale, and The Tempest. Because The Tempest was the last of the four tragicomedies, Shakespeare had an important connection to this specific piece. “Whatever its relationship to Shakespeare’s life… , it was surely his final statement about the possibilities of his art” (“William Shakespeare” 704).
In other words, it was his final farewell to the stage. Interpretation The Tempest is about a magician, named Prospero, and his beautiful daughter, Miranda, that are stranded on an island for twelve years after Prospero’s brother steals the dukedom of Milan from him. On their way home from a wedding in Tunis are Prospero’s brother, Antonio, the King of Naples, Alonso, Alonso’s son, Ferdinand, a good nobleman, Gonzalo, Alonso’s brother, Sebastian, and others. They are crossing the Mediterranean Sea when suddenly a violent, windy storm (the tempest), conjured up by Prospero, washes them ashore the same island that Miranda and Prospero inhabit.
While they are on the island, Prospero uses his magic and his spirits (especially Ariel) to guide them to where he wants them. During the story, Sebastian and Antonio try to kill Gonzalo to guarantee the kingship of Naples. Caliban, Prospero’s nasty, disobedient slave meets up with two of Alonso’s servants. They plot on killing Prospero and taking the island for themselves. Also during the story, Ferdinand is guided by Ariel to Prospero and Miranda where he falls in love with Miranda and earns Prospero’s blessing to marry her. When the right time comes, Prospero meets with all of those who have been shipwrecked on the island.
He takes back the dukedom of Milan, announces his daughter and Ferdinand’s engagement, and punishes Caliban and Alonso’s two servants. This play has many identifiable themes. One of these themes is based on lawfulness, fairness, and the illusion of both. Although Prospero does have the right to be spiteful towards Antonio for stealing the throne of Milan from him and sending him out stranded for 12 years with his daughter, he is also very hypocritical. Prospero believes in justice yet he enslaves Caliban and Ariel with magic. He is mostly concerned with himself and what benefits him and his daughter.
This injustice can be observed between the following lines from The Tempest: “Mark his condition and the event / Then tell me If this might be a brother. ” (Crowther, I. ii. 117-120) spoken by Prospero about Antonio, and “Thou liest, malignant thing! Hast thou forgot / The foul witch Sycorax, who with age and envy / Was grown into a hoop? Hast thou forgot her? ” (Crowther, I. ii. 259-261) spoken by Prospero to Ariel. One of the main symbols in the story is the tempest in the beginning that holds all of those aboard hostage to the sea.
This is symbolic because it is just like when Prospero and Miranda were sent out on a ship at sea and put at the mercy of the sea. Prospero creates the storm so that those who made him suffer can suffer and learn from it as he had. Apart from that, the tempest also symbolizes the dark side, and intense power, of Prospero’s magic. Another symbol that makes reoccurrences in the story is Prospero’s books. Throughout the tale, references are made signifying the basic message of how Prospero would be nothing without his books: Why, as I told thee, ’tis a custom with him,
I’ th’ afternoon to sleep. There thou mayst brain him, Having first seized his books… Remember First to possess his books, for without them He’s but a sot, as I am, nor hath not One spirit to command. (Crowther, III. ii. 87-92) Therefor, the books stand as a symbol for his power. Author’s Purpose One could say that Shakespeare wrote The Tempest for the same reason he wrote any other play, to entertain his audience. More specifically, he wrote it to teach its viewers a lesson about life. He is trying to get the point across that forgiveness is key to reconciliation.
Without Propsero forgiving his brother for stealing his dukedom, more havoc would wreak between the two. Forgiving people for the pain and suffering they have caused you will set your conscience free. Another reason he wrote the play was because, as I mentioned before, his farewell-play to the stage. Tone The tone of The Tempest is very mystical and mysterious. It almost makes you feel as if you are dreaming the whole story. The fact that there is literally magic involved, creates the imagery and tone of the majority of the play.
One of the characters that contributes heavily to this is Prospero’s spiritual servant, Ariel. Taking on the role of an invisible voice, noise, and music, he is able to create the mood and really seal the deal (the deal being the magical tone). Legacy and Impact The Tempest left behind many fine quotes which we still remember today. “His complexion was perfect gallows” (Crowther, I. i. ), “he receives comfort like cold porridge” (Crowther, II. i. ), and “what’s past is prologue” (Crowther, II. i. ) are among these. The Tempest was very well received in its age and is still a legend.
Thus, I think we can all agree that Ben Jonson is correct in saying of Shakespeare that: “He was not of an age, but for all time! ” Works Cited Crowther, John, ed. “No Fear The Tempest. ” SparkNotes. com. SparkNotes LLC. 2005. Web. 17. Jan. 2013. Kinsella, Kate. “William Shakespeare. ” Prentice Hall Literature. Timeless Voices, Timeless Themes, Platinum Level. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2005. 704. Print. Kinsella, Kate. The Tempest. Prentice Hall Literature. Timeless Voices, Timeless Themes. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2005. 708. Print.