Date Published: November 1, 1611
Book Author: William Shakespeare
Summary reviewed by:
Bachelor of Arts (BA), University Of California, Santa Barbara 2019
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Hold fast your breath, dear reader, for a tale of enchantment and vengeance swirls before thee in the riveting drama, "The Tempest" by our beloved bard, William Shakespeare. On an island set adrift in the middle of the vast sea, in realms far from civil society, where supernatural forces often shape the destiny of men, this tale unfolds. A storm, conjured by the mighty sorcerer Prospero, ushers the audience into the narrative, which is filled with magic, betrayal, and a quest for redemption.
Banished from his rightful position as the Duke of Milan, Prospero, with his innocent daughter Miranda, find solace and seclusion in this enchanted isle. Prospero's power of sorcery, taught by his books and guided by the spirit Ariel, a captive of his command, sets the stage for his intricate plan to bring his treacherous brother Antonio and the complicit King Alonso of Naples to justice. Stranded on the island after the shipwreck, Alonso and Antonio, along with other noblemen and the king's son Ferdinand, are subjected to trials and illusions.
In the midst of chaos, a tender love story blossoms between the naive Miranda and the noble Ferdinand, bringing a semblance of humanity to the supernatural tale. Parallelly, the drunken sailor Stephano and the jester Trinculo provide comic relief, even as they are led into a ludicrous rebellion by Caliban, the brutish son of the witch Sycorax, another of Prospero's unwilling servants. Amidst the mingling of the ethereal and earthly, Shakespeare weaves a captivating story of retribution, forgiveness, and the intricate dance of power.
Spoilers (click here to reveal spoilers)
At the climax of "The Tempest", the revelations do burst forth, much like the eye of a storm exposing the calm truth. Prospero, his spirit weary of magic and manipulation, renounces his powers of sorcery, expressing his intention to return to Milan and reclaim his rightful dukedom. The contrite Alonso, moved by the innocence of Miranda and Ferdinand's love, repents his past actions, paving the way for Prospero's reclamation.
The comical rebellion of Caliban, Stephano, and Trinculo fails, leaving Caliban to reflect on his misguided trust in them. He pledges his allegiance anew to Prospero, vowing to mend his ways. As for Ariel, the dutiful spirit is finally granted the freedom he so ardently desired, following Prospero's self-imposed renunciation of his magical prowess. Thus, through revelations and repentance, the storm of retribution subsides into a calm sea of forgiveness and harmony.
Prospero: The rightful Duke of Milan, wrongfully overthrown and exiled. He values justice, wisdom, and redemption, as demonstrated when he manipulates events to teach his brother a lesson, yet ultimately forgives him.
Miranda: Prospero’s innocent daughter, unacquainted with the world outside their island. Her values of love, kindness, and empathy are shown when she instantly falls for and comforts Ferdinand.
Ferdinand: The Prince of Naples, he is noble, brave, and virtuous. His love for Miranda and his respect for Prospero, despite his trials, reflect these values.
Caliban: The son of a witch, he is brutish and resentful, yet naïve. His longing for freedom and rebellion against Prospero demonstrate these traits.
Ariel: The spirit servant of Prospero. His loyalty, despite desiring freedom, and his dedication to fulfill Prospero’s orders reveal his values.
Power and Control: Displayed through Prospero’s command over Ariel and Caliban, and his manipulation of the shipwrecked noblemen.
Betrayal and Revenge: Highlighted through Antonio’s usurpation of Prospero’s position and Prospero’s subsequent plan for retribution.
Forgiveness and Redemption: Seen in Prospero’s decision to forgive those who wronged him and Caliban’s realization of his errors.
Nature versus Nurture: Explored through Miranda’s innocence despite isolation, and Caliban’s brutishness despite Prospero’s attempts at education.
Love and Humanity: Mirrored in the burgeoning love between Miranda and Ferdinand, offering a contrast to the play’s darker elements.