The Tempest

Last play … None to go! So I have finally got round to reading and writing about all the plays on my course.

The last play is Shakespeare’s The Tempest which is coincidentally Shakespeare’s final play too. I didn’t really enjoy this play very much as it doesn’t really achieve anything throughout the plot. In other words, the end restores what was present just before the play began.

This play focuses on several themes including magic, the role of imprisoned characters and colonialism. It is also worth noting that Miranda is the only female character within the whole play and her father eventually encourages her to marry Ferdinand, one of the only men she has ever seen, but it is only to further his own prospects and part of the plan to restore his dukedom.

I’m just going to focus on magic in this post as this play is somewhat overpowered by magic and the main representations include Prospero’s use of it and his spirit, Ariel. Magic is a very important tool for Shakespeare and acts as a theme in which he can put things the way they should be. Prospero is able to gently persuade the other characters to get what he wants through slowly introducing his magic and then slowly withdrawing it as the plot continues. By giving up magic at the end of the play, it could be suggested that Prospero’s work of magic has been entirely for the audience’s pleasure. Ariel’s gender and physical form are ambiguous in the text but it is generally known that Ariel is a man and reinforces the idea that Miranda is the sole woman of this play. Ariel is Prospero’s servant and is destined to be so until he decides to release him. Ariel is the one who creates ‘The Tempest’ and carries out all of Prospero’s desired actions.

This play gains a 3/10 as I think it lacks an overarching plot that draws the reader in and Shakespeare only uses magic to bring the protagonists what they want. This play has a nice parallel between Prospero and Shakespeare himself whereby Prospero’s giving up of magic represents Shakespeare stopping writing plays. Worth a read if you love Shakespeare…

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