* The Shakespeare Series is a new series I’ll be doing here on Reading in the Rain and will involve my good self looking at Shakespeare plays, telling you why you might like to read said play, and then briefly reviewing them! I hope you enjoy 😊 *
What’s it about?
Prospero – the magician, rightful Duke of Milan, and father to Miranda – employs his spirit Ariel to bring on a tempest in order to gather the men who betrayed him onto his island, to seek revenge for himself and a love for his daughter. We follow the character’s as they set out on their respective journeys of punishment, love, forgiveness and the fantastical.
Why should you read it?
○ It is beautifully lyrical – Not only does Shakespeare create a vivid image of the island through reported speech but also the recurring references to the environment, the metaphysical, and the mythological are wonderful to read.
The clouds methought would open and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked,
I cried to dream again.
– Caliban 3.2
○ The play subtly tackles the theme of colonisation – The relationship between Prospero and Caliban looks at the relationship between the coloniser and the colonised, since Caliban, the debatably ‘rightful’ leader of the island agreed to hand it over to Prospero in return for an education but soon becomes bitter, feeling he has been robbed as Prospero treats him more and more like a second-class citizen. This theme would have been incredibly relevant at the time Shakespeare wrote and performed the play as England was expanding abroad, but remains incredibly interesting.
○ There is a plethora of interesting characters – The Tempest complies to the norm of Shakespearean comedies by having many many characters, not quite too many but just enough to leave a reader and audience comically bemused. What’s more, each character brings something different; Prospero drives the story but can be seen as a bitter and dominating man or a father doing what he thinks is best for his child, Stephano and Trinculo act as a comedy duo to laugh at, and Miranda presents naivety, to be expected of one deserted on an island, and wonder at the outside world!
What did I think?
This play has instantly become one of my favourite Shakespeare plays, and definitely my favourite of his comedy – though I will admit that some jokes fall flat without actors to make them their own, but that’s to be expected of 400 year old jokes! The lyrical creation of this fantastical world had me hooked, it would be a wonder to see on the stage. The language is especially gorgeous, the recurring themes -some of which I mentioned earlier – are integrated seamlessly and are so thought-provoking. Something that really struck me though was the way characters are presented over the course of the play; my opinions of them changed quite drastically by the end, and I think my own readings of them will change when I come back to it in the future. And that is the brilliance of Shakespeare’s plays and specifically The Tempest, every reading and every performance gives it a new life.