The Tempest Study Guide

The Tempest Study Guide

Original title:
The Tempest
Published July 1st 2004 by Washington Square Press (first published 1623)
ISBN 0743482832 (ISBN13: 9780743482837)

The great poet of all times, William Shakespeare, is known not only for his distinctive style, but also for great productivity. Even though this is one of the reasons why some experts still have doubts over the real authorship of his works. “Tempest” is believed to be his last work and might as well be his best. It is also much more organized in style and is believed to signify Shakespeare’s well-thought farewell to the theatre career.

At the beginning we find the protagonist of the poem, Prospero, on a deserted island. The text is full of different elements and ideas: love, grace, fight for power, mystique, service, abuse of position, confrontation. But its main themes are illusion and manipulation. One can have different ideas about what manipulation actually means. What Prospero means is making people around him act to his benefit.

Through the protagonist the reader is forced to dwell upon the nature of human character. Prospero believes himself to have been a good duke. Despite some negligence towards state affairs and too much attention devoted to reading books, he is confident that his brother did wrong overthrowing him. He does a good job bringing up his daughter on an island and conjures a masterful plan to restore justice.

Prospero is plotting a plan to bring his daughter Miranda to the reigns of power in his native kingdom. Through revelations and tricks of mind he ensures the marriage of Miranda and the son of a King of Naples. Prospero emphasizes that he is returning what is his proper right. But where does “my right” begin and where does “your right” end?

It’s a known fact that all Shakespeare plays are based on existing plots from different cultures and authors. The inspiration for “Tempest” remains unknown. It could be the real events of those times when shipwrecks had been frequent and common. While some other elements of the novel find resemblance in Ovid, Erasmus, Martyr and other literary masters of different origins and styles.

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