Edward's Reviews > The Tempest

The Tempest by William Shakespeare
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May 16, 11

Read in May, 2011

When I was a kid I thought the inscription from THE TEMPEST above the entrance to the Comstock swimming pool in Spokane was a strange one, "“Sir, he may live: I saw him beat the surges under him, And ride upon their backs. . ." Why would you even suggest the possibility of drowning in a place where people go to enjoy themselves? But it's this ambivalence of appearances and reality, at the heart of all of Shakespeare's plays, that is the "rough magic" of this, one of his last plays, one that I just reread.
Prospero, the master magician, controls the fate of everyone on this enchanted island, but he says he must first test people and let them make potentially disastrous mistakes before he allows them to find fulfillment. We have to fall before we can rise. "We are such stuff as dreams are made of, and our little life is rounded with a sleep"; either through "art" or "prayer" all of us from our mistakes "would pardoned be." A profound statement that there is a possibility, a probability, even a certainty, that life turns out well in the end.
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