The Tempest by William Shakespeare
Rating: ★★★★★ // The Bard at his finest
Favorite Line: “Your tale, sir, would cure deafness.”
Reviewing Shakespeare feels a little absurd. I sadly have not studied his plays enough to really grasp all that he is saying, but I hope one day to say that I have. All I can really say is if I liked they play or if I didn’t like the play. When it comes to The Tempest, one of Shakespeare’s last plays (many believe to be his absolute last), I really enjoyed it.
Summary (via GoodReads)
In The Tempest, long considered one of Shakespeare’s most lyrical plays, Prospero—a magician on an enchanted island—punishes his enemies, brings happiness to his daughter, and comes to terms with human use of supernatural power. The Tempest embodies both seemingly timeless romance and the historically specific moment in which Europe begins to explore and conquer the New World.
Its complexity of thought, its range of characters—from the spirit Ariel and the monster Caliban to the beautiful Miranda and her prince Ferdinand -its poetic beauty, and its exploration of difficult questions that still haunt us today make this play wonderfully compelling.
The Tempest is a play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1610–11. It is set on a remote island, where Prospero, the exiled Duke of Milan, plots to restore his daughter Miranda to her rightful place, using illusion and skilful manipulation. The eponymous tempest brings to the island Prospero’s usurping brother Antonio and the complicit Alonso, King of Naples. There, his machinations bring about the revelation of Antonio’s low nature, the redemption of Alonso, and the marriage of Miranda to Alonso’s son, Ferdinand.
I sometimes struggle when reading plays, so I almost always read and listen at the same time. This helps bring the verse to life, while putting the words more firmly into my mind. This version had a little more of a positive impact on me because the lead role of Prospero was performed by Ian McKellen, who is a tremendous actor and he really only needs to voice to perfectly portray the emotion of the character.
The play brings a serious situation into play, but has fun characters to offset the seriousness. It has a bright romance, which blooms a little too quickly for my liking, but after all, it is Shakespeare. Despite the quickness of the romance, I thought the romance was sweet, and it added a nice aspect to the story.
Overall the story is of revenge which ultimately turns into forgiveness after redemption, but like many of Shakespeare’s plays, it explores the supernatural and the physiological aspects of humanity.
What is really unique and beautiful about this play is the epilogue. There, breaking character, Shakespeare has Prospero address the audience. Through Prospero’s voice, Shakespeares talks of his own retirement and of setting his gift of verse free.
I’m going to have to read this play a few more times before I really understand all the different dynamics it has, and maybe then I can write a more intelligent review about it, but as for now, I will just leave you with Shakespeare’s fantastic end:
Now my charms are all o’erthrown,And what strength I have’s mine own,Which is most faint. Now, ’tis true,I must be here confined by you,Or sent to Naples. Let me not,Since I have my dukedom gotAnd pardoned the deceiver, dwellIn this bare island by your spell,But release me from my bandsWith the help of your good hands.Gentle breath of yours my sailsMust fill, or else my project fails,Which was to please. Now I wantSpirits to enforce, art to enchant,And my ending is despair,Unless I be relieved by prayer,Which pierces so that it assaultsMercy itself and frees all faults.As you from crimes would pardoned be,Let your indulgence set me free.