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: The Tempest

Magic, music, spirits and villains all exist in this romantic play by William
Shakespeare. The Tempest was one of Shakespeares last works, portraying a kind of
fairy tale complete with a good guy, a villain, and an uncomplicated love. Boyce refers to
the play as a stunning theatrical entertainment that is also a moral allegory of great
beauty and emotional power. (Shakespeare A to Z, pg. 632) This play was not only
attractive to the senses with all the magic and mystery, but it also displayed meaningful
themes and well developed characters.
Shakespeares life has never actually been fully accounted. There are still many
holes and mysteries about his life, but what we do know is often very helpful in analyzing
his many works. William was the son of John Shakespeare, a wealthy and responsible
man, and Mary Arden, the daughter of a distinguished Catholic family. He was educated,
although there are many rumors that say otherwise. Shakespeare married Anne
Hathaway at age eighteen, and five months later had the first of his three children. He
later traveled to London where he began his literary career. He bought a large estate at
Stratford, which he called New Place. In Stratford he continued to buy property, and
around 1610 he retired. His last complete play, The Tempest, was probably written in
1611.
Shakespeare wrote in the Elizabethan Age. The defeat of the Spanish Armada
raised English spirits high and they had an optimistic outlook on life. Shakespeare wrote
with much compassion and charm, giving hope for the human condition. He was a
romantic poet, telling stories we wished our life could be like. In The Tempest there is
the glorified hero, or the good guy, Prospero, and there is the bad guy, Antonio. With
romanticism, the good guy always wins. Prospero obtains his rightful position as duke,
and Antonio loses. The people living in the Elizabethan Age could read these stories and
would have a better outlook on life.
The Tempest begins with a ship being tossed by a frantic storm at sea. Prospero,
the former Duke of Milan, had entrusted the management of his dukedom to his brother,
Antonio and in return Antonio seized power. With the help of Alonso, the King of
Naples, Antonio took over and cast off Prospero with his daughter, Miranda. Prospero
and Miranda had been living on an island for twelve years, away from their home, when
by a strange accident all of Prosperos enemies were brought together on one ship.
Prospero, who has learned magic, creates the storm and threatens the ship. With the help
of Ariel, his servant, Prospero continues to ruse his brother and the rest of the men.
Ariel brings Ferdinand, the Prince of Naples, to Miranda and they fall in love. In the
meantime the royal party continues to look for the prince, believing he is dead. Prospero
finally releases the men from their state of imprisonment, and receives his rightful
position back.
Shakespeare writes with a unique style in The Tempest. It is written in iambic
pentameter, although, because it was his last complete play, he was beginning to stray
from the usual pattern. The play is divided into five acts, but actually takes place in only
one afternoon. This short time span is not usual for Shakespeare, as well as the use of
only one scene.
In The Tempest, Shakespeare develops the characters very well. They all have
strong personalities as well as representations. The primary action is always centered
around the one main character, Prospero. He shows wisdom, justice and good judgment.
He is willing to forgive his brother and the other conspirators. Although he is a very
Slagter, 3
benevolent man, this often contradicts with his cruelty and short temper. He continues to
let Gonzalo suffer even though he was the man that truly saved his life. Not only does he
do this, but he also lets his own daughter believe that he hates the man she is in love
with.
Antonio is the character Shakespeare develops into the villain of the play. He
was the brother who stole Prosperos position as the duke of Milan. Prospero trusted him
and he took advantage of

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