Reading Shakespeare could be a task for most people today. Those who studied Latin or are fluent in understanding poetry might find ease with Shakespeare but for the rest, it could be challenging, especially with respect to understanding its ironies and metaphors. More than four hundred years of “static” caused by changes in languages over time intervene between his speaking and our understanding. Most of his vocabulary is still in use, but the style has changed, and his vocabulary has also been altered to an extent. Shakespeare was a dramatic poet as we know him, his works are often set in plays and portray fierce climax in implications with the sentiments he wants to explore.
The Tempest, a play by Shakespeare, probably written in 1610–161 is thought to be the last work by the playwright. The play opens with a ship in the sea during a tempest, the rest of the story is set on a remote island, where the sorcerer Prospero lives with his daughter Miranda, and his two servants- Caliban, a monster figure, and Ariel, an airy spirit. The plot follows the revenge of Prospero following a betrayal and exile by his brother.
The Tempest deals with both tragic and comic themes.
The plot opens with a ferocious storm carried out by Ariel and caused by the magic of Prospero. Prospero, who was a former Duke of Milan was betrayed by his brother Antonio twelve years ago, who exiled Prospero and his daughter Miranda, claiming the throne for his own. Prospero and Miranda were stranded on an island along with little remaining including books. During this time, the exiled Duke learned the magic of the island and used it to harness its elementary spirits.
Caliban is a grotesque monster, and the son of the witch who ruled the island before Prospero was adopted, raised, and later enslaved. In this process, Prospero also freed Ariel, an airy spirit captured by Caliban. In return, Ariel promises his loyalty to Prospero. Years of wait finally came to halt when Antonio’s ship sailed Prespero’s waters. The sorcerer destroys his brother’s ship and wash the sailor ashore in groups. Prospero’s plotting extends to the love life of her daughter as he plots for her to fall for the stranded prince Ferdinand. It is a powerful play that explores the dualities and contradictions of inheritance and governance in humans. It strips society down to its darkest desires and greed for material world. It also emphasizes the psychology of father and daughter’s bond and the effects of colonization engraved with the feeling of revenge.
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in’t!”
Although Prospero’s grudge for his brother seems to be shaped by the history, his own abuse inflicted on the island hoardings and its magical properties could not be silenced as well. It’s not just the lost title that he longs for, it’s the taste of the power he wants again. The nature and limits of dramaturgy as an art form is well portrayed in The Tempest by the writer. It is the major reason, why the play is read as an exploration of colonization and its effect on our morals.
The Tempest is unlike the way of Shakespeare’s works as his legacy has been largely immense. Various plays by him have been transcended in the category of brilliance but ‘The Tempest’ seems to have profoundly impacted the course of western Literature and gave it the vocabulary relevant even today. It is possibly the last work by Shakespeare and one among the two plays whose plots are entirely original. Though it is tempting to think of it as his farewell play- the interpretation of Prospero in the last moments as he requests the audience to set him free with one last applause could be ironical to the fact that Shakespeare indeed signalled the end of his work.
The play also holds some of the most powerful poetries by Shakespeare and his wildest observation of human psychology. It is the most magnificent piece of literature and perhaps his greatest work. The Tempest is a must-read for everyone.