Carol's Reviews > The Tempest

The Tempest by William Shakespeare
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Jan 13, 12

bookshelves: classics, play, favorites
Read from January 05 to 11, 2012

I don’t think I’ve read The Tempest by William Shakespeare before, but in my head it was about a magician on an island. Briefly, the play is set on a remote island, where Prospero, the exiled Duke of Milan, and his daughter Miranda were ship-wrecked years before. Prospero plots to restore himself to his rightful place. He is a magician and has control over the spirits of the island, including his main helper, Ariel. The island sole other inhabitant who was there before Prospero is Caliban, a monstrous person who acts as a slave to Prospero, but speaks beautifully. A storm brings to the island Prospero’s usurping brother Antonio and the complicit Alonso, King of Naples. Prospero can finally gain his revenge, but chooses forgiveness instead. In the end, Prospero will to return to his place in Milan, Miranda will marry Alonso’s son, Ferdinand, and Ariel is freed. I’m not sure if Caliban will be left on the island on his own or will go to Italy with Prospero.

I enjoyed reading this play, but I am definitely glad I chose an annotated version. I’m sure I got more out of it reading the introduction first and then having the definitions of the words I was unfamiliar with. Like any play, though, I’m sure actually seeing it performed would have been preferable, but that’s not always possible.

Prospero was an interesting character, almost all-powerful on the island, even the water obeyed his commands. But in the end he chooses forgiveness over revenge and, before departing for Milan, renounces his magic, breaking his magic staff and buries his book. It’s like he’s going to return to reality from this enchanted island. I like him, even though he could be nasty to Caliban, but even that I understand. After all, Caliban attempted to rape Miranda at some point before this story takes place. I know that some critics have equated Prospero’s magic with the theater, and his leaving it behind equalling Shakespeare saying farewell to the stage, as this is one of his last plays, if not the final one.

This play has a bit of everything, music, magic, romance, even a bit of comedy. And a happy ending to top it all off.
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