Alex's Reviews > The Tempest

The Tempest by William Shakespeare
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's review
Jun 02, 11

bookshelves: 2011, reading-through-history, top-100
Read on June 02, 2011

The Tempest is almost a wisp of a thing. There's little plot and almost no character development. It's like a magic trick: you blow into your hand, and a cloud of flame pops up, and a dove flies out of it, everyone claps.

So the play is the spectacle, and the magic is the language. Prospero's speech, "We are such stuff as dreams are made on," is second maybe only to "All the world's a stage" in crystallizing Shakespeare's philosophy (and better, poetically); and there's Miranda's line, "O brave new world, that has such people in't!" - these and others are among the best lines Shakespeare wrote; and the feel of the play, the atmosphere - that magical island, populated by beasts and wizards, the evocation of a world we were still exploring - it sticks with you, even though, as I said, dramatically speaking, almost nothing happens.

And Caliban! Arguably the only memorable character - Prospero is cool, and Ariel differs from Puck, but is no Puck, and the others are just placeholders, a virtuous maid here, a villainous uncle there - but Caliban, that sniveling, backstabbing, savage would-be rapist, searching for a God whose boots need licking - he's a tremendous find. (And what made me love Tennyson.) Caliban's right up there with Iago.

In some ways, this play is all flash. But what a flash!
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Natalie (new)

Natalie If The Tempest is fresh in your mind you may want to read The Bookman pretty soon, it is a great romp of a book with a ton of references to Orpheus, The Tempest and more.


message 2: by El (new)

El Caliban is one of the best characters in all of literature. Great review, Alex.


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