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Analysis of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest

By NASRULLAH MAMBROL on July 26, 2020 • ( 1 )

Many commentators agree in the belief that The Tempest is the last creation of Shakespeare. I will readily believe it. There is in The Tempest the solemn tone of a testament. It might be said that, before his death, the poet, in this epopee of the ideal, had designed a codicil for the Future. . . . The Tempest is the supreme denouement, dreamed by Shakespeare, for the bloody drama of Genesis. It is the expiation of the primordial crime. The region whither it transports us is the enchanted land where the sentence of damnation is absolved by clemency, and where reconciliation is ensured by amnesty to the fratricide. And, at the close of the piece, when the poet, touched by emotion, throws Antonio into the arms of Prospero, he has made Cain pardoned by Abel.

—Victor Hugo , Oeuvres complètes de Shakespeare

It is inevitable, given the position of The Tempest as William Shakespeare’s final solo dramatic work, to hear in Prospero’s epilogue to the play, Shakespeare’s farewell to his audience:

Now my charms are all o’erthrown, And what strength I have’s mine own, Which is most faint. . . . . . Now I want Spirits to enforce, art to enchant; And my ending is despair Unless I be relieved by prayer, Which pierces so, that it assaults Mercy itself, and frees all faults. As you from crimes would pardoned be, Let your indulgence set me free.

Prospero bows out on a note of forgiveness, the tone that finally rules the play along with an affirmation in the essential goodness of humanity. It has been tempting, therefore, to view Prospero’s sentiment and his play as Shakespeare’s last word, his summation of a career and a philosophy, what critic Gary Taylor has called “the valedictory culmination of Shakespeare’s life work.” First performed at court on November 1, 1611, before the playwright’s exit to Stratford, The Tempest , however, is technically neither Shakespeare’s finale nor requiem. Two years later Shakespeare was back in London, collaborating with John Fletcher on The Two Noble Kinsmen, Henry VIII, and the lost play Cardenio. As intriguing as the biographical reading is, it is only one of The Tempest ’s multiple layers of meaning and significance. Called by critic T. M. Parrot, “perhaps the best loved of all Shakespeare’s plays,” and by William Hazlitt as among the “most original and perfect of Shakespeare’s productions,” The Tempest continues to be one of the most performed and interpreted plays in the canon, generating (and withstanding) autobiographical, allegorical, religious, metaphysical, and more recently postcolonial readings. The play’s central figure has likewise shifted from Prospero, who fascinated the romantics, to Miranda, who has claimed the attention of feminists, to Caliban, who is exhibit A in the reading of the play as “a veritable document of early Anglo-American history,” according to writer Sydney Lee, containing “the whole history of imperialist America,” as stated by critic Leslie Fiedler. The Tempest has served as a poetic treasure trove and springboard for other writers, with allusions detectable in John Milton’s Comus , T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, W. H. Auden’s The Sea and the Mirror, and countless other works. Based on its popularity, persistence, and universality, The Tempest remains one of the richest and most fascinating of Shakespeare’s plays.

The Tempest Guide

The Tempest is a composite work with elements derived from multiple sources. Montaigne’s essay “On Cannibals,” whose romantic primitivism is satirized in Gonzalo’s plan for organizing society on Prospero’s island in the second act, is a possible source. So, too, are a German play, Comedy of the Beautiful Sidea, by Jacob Ayrer, about a magician prince whose only daughter falls in love with the son of his enemy, and several Italian commedia dell’arte pastoral tragicomedies set on remote islands and featuring benevolent magicians. Accounts of the Sea-Venture, the ship sent to Virginia to bolster John Smith’s colony that was wrecked on the coast of Bermuda in 1609, may have furnished Shakespeare with some of the details for the play’s opening storm. However, the most substantial borrowing for the plot of The Tempest comes from Shakespeare’s own previous plays, so much so, that scholar Stephen Greenblatt has described The Tempest as “a kind of echo chamber of Shakespearean motifs.” The complications following a shipwreck revisits Twelfth Night ; the relocation of court society to the wilderness is featured in As You Like It and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which also employs spirits and the supernatural to teach lessons and settle scores. The backstory of The Tempest —Prospero, the former duke of Milan, usurped by his brother—recalls  Hamlet and King Lear . Miranda’s being raised in ignorance of her past and status as well as the debate between nature and nurture echo Pericles and The Winter’s Tale. Like both, The Tempest mixes light and dark, tragic and comic elements, yet compared to their baroque complexity, the shortest of Shakespeare’s plays after Macbeth obeys the Aristotelian unities of place and time (the only other Shakespearean play to do so is The Comedy of Errors ), with its action confined to Prospero’s island, taking place over a period roughly corresponding to its performance time.

The Tempest begins with one of the most spectacular scenes in all of Shakespeare: the storm at sea that threatens the vessel whose passengers include King Alonso of Naples, his son Ferdinand, and Prospero’s hated brother Antonio, the usurping duke of Milan. Their life-and-death struggle enacted on stage is subjected to a double focus as Prospero reassures his daughter, Miranda, distraught over the fate of the passengers and crew, that he controls the tempest and that their danger is an illusion. The disaster, which he calls a “spectacle,” is artifice, and the play establishes an analogy between Prospero’s magic and the theatrical sleight of hand that initially seemed so realistic and thrilling. Prospero stands in for the artist here: Both magician and playwrights are conjurors, able to manipulate nature and make others believe in a reality without substance. The contrast between illusion and reality will be sounded throughout the play, suggesting that The Tempest is a metadrama: a play about playwriting and the power and limitations of the imagination. Prospero finally tells his daughter how they arrived on the island; how his brother, Antonio, joined in a conspiracy with Alonso to usurp his place as duke of Milan; how 12 years before Prospero and Miranda were set adrift at sea, provisioned only by a compassionate Neapolitan, Gonzalo. Friend and foes, aboard the vessel Prospero has seemed to wreck, are now under his control on the island where Prospero intends to exact his vengeance. Prospero, therefore, will use his long-studied magical arts to stage a reckoning for past offenses. The play proceeds under Prospero’s direction with a cast that either cooperates or complicates his intentions. Serving him are the ethereal Ariel, whom Prospero promises to free after completing his bidding, and the contrasting earthly and brutish Caliban, a witch’s son, whom Prospero says he has “us’d thee / (Filth as thou art) with human care, and lodg’d thee / In mine own cell, till thou didst seek to violate / The honor of my child.” Prospero, therefore, controls symbols of both sides of human nature: aspects of the imagination and fancy and baser instincts that come in conflict on the island as the play progresses.

As playwright Prospero must juggle three subplots: Miranda’s relationship with Ferdinand, the son of Alonso, who mourns his loss at sea; the plotting of Prospero’s brother, Antonio, and the king’s brother, Sebastian, to murder Alonso and seize his throne; and Caliban’s alliance with the jester Trinculo and butler Stefano to kill Prospero and reign in his stead. The first goes so well—Miranda and Ferdinand fall in love at first sight—that Prospero tests Ferdinand’s fidelity by appearing to punish him by making him his servant. Ferdinand, however, proves his devotion by gladly accepting his humiliation to be near Miranda. Prospero ends Ferdinand’s penance and testing in the first scene of act 4, declaring: “All thy vexations / Were but my trials of thy love, and thou / Hast strangely stood the test.” To seal the nuptial vows a ritual masque is performed by various mythological goddesses and pastoral figures. In the midst of the dance Prospero stops the performance to deliver one of the most celebrated speeches in all of Shakespeare’s plays:

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits, and Are melted into air, into thin air; And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces, The solemn temples, the great globe itself, Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff As dreams are made on; and our little life Is rounded with a sleep.

Jaques in As You Like It asserted “All the world’s a stage,” and Macbeth described life as “a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage.” Prospero’s speech suggests the transience of both human life and art, with its reference to “the great globe,” the name of Shakespeare’s theater, that, along with towers, palaces, and temples, “shall dissolve . . . like this insubstantial pageant.”

Made aware by Ariel of Caliban’s conspiracy with Trinculo and Stefano, Prospero distracts them from their purpose of murder by rich attire, which Trinculo and Stefano put on before being set upon by spirits. Their comic rebellion is matched by the more serious plot of Antonio and Sebastian to kill Alonso. An assassination attempt is halted by the appearance of spirits providing a banquet for the hungry men. Just as they try to satisfy their hunger the food disappears, replaced by Ariel, “like a harpy,” who accuses Alonso, Sebastian, and Antonio of their crimes against Prospero and delivers their sentences:

. . . But remember, For that’s my business to you, that you three From Milan did supplant good Prospero; Exposed unto the sea, which hath requit it ,Him, and his innocent child; for which foul deed The powers, delaying not forgetting, have Incensed the seas and shores, yea, all the creatures, Against your peace. Thee of thy son, Alonso, They have bereft; and do pronounce by me Ling’ring perdition, worse than any death Can be at once, shall step by step attend You and your ways; whose wraths to guard you from— Which here, in this most desolate isle, else fall sUpon your heads—is nothing but heart’s sorrow, And a clear life ensuing.

Prospero, approving of Ariel’s performance, declares, “They now are in my pow’r,” and the play turns on how he will decide to use that power.


At the start of the fifth act Prospero announces the climax of his plan: “Now does my project gather to a head,” with his victims now imprisoned to confront their guilt and fate. It is Ariel who shifts Prospero from vengeance to forgiveness by saying, “Your charm so strongly works ’em / That if you now beheld them your affections / Would become tender.” Ariel’s suggestion of what should be the reaction to human suffering shames Prospero into compassion:

Hast thou, which art but air, a touch, a feeling Of their afflictions, and shall not myself, One of their kind, that relish all as sharply, Passion as they, be kindlier moved than thou art? Though with their high wrongs I am struck to th’ quick, Yet with my nobler reason ’gainst my fury Do I take part. The rarer action is In virtue than in vengeance. They being penitent, The sole drift of my purpose doth extend Not a frown further. Go release them, Ariel; My charms I’ll break, their senses I’ll restore, And they shall be themselves.

Prospero turns away from revenge and the pursuit of power that had formerly ruled the destinies of so many Shakespearean heroes, including Hamlet, Macbeth , and many more. Prospero changes the plot of his play at its climax and then turns away from his art to reenter the human community:

. . . But this rough magic I here abjure. And, when I have required Some heavenly music—which even now I do— To work mine end upon their senses that This airy charm is for, I’ll break my staff, Bury it certain fathoms in the earth, And deeper than did ever plummet sound I’ll drown my book.

The end of Prospero’s plot, his art, and the play conjoin. Ariel returns with the prisoners, and Prospero pardons all, including his brother, before reclaiming his dukedom and reuniting father and son. Miranda, overcome by so many nobles on their formerly deserted island, declares:

O wonder! How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world! That has such people in’t!

Prospero, more soberly and less optimistically, responds to her words: “’Tis new to thee.” Finally, Caliban, Stephano, and Trinculo are brought in. The lowly status and ridiculousness of the latter two are exposed, prompting Caliban to assert:

I’ll be wise hereafter, And seek for grace. What a thrice-double ass Was I to take this drunkard for a god, And worship this dull fool!

Having reestablished order and a harmonious future in the marriage of Miranda and Ferdinand, Prospero delivers on his promise to free Ariel before turning to the audience to ask for the same compassion and forgiveness he has shown. As Prospero has released the spirit Ariel, we are asked to do the same for Prospero. We now hold the power and the art to use it as we will:

. . . Now ’tis true I must be here confined by you Or sent to Naples. Let me not ,Since I have my dukedom got, And pardoned the deceiver, dwell In this bare island by your spell; But release me from my bands With the help of your good hands.

If the play is not Shakespeare’s last will and testament, there scarcely can be a better: a play that affirms essential human goodness while acknowledging the presence of human evil, written in the full powers of the imagination, while conscious of its limitations and responsibilities.

The Tempest Oxford Lecture by Emma Smith

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Essays on The Tempest

The Tempest is a timeless play by William Shakespeare that offers a myriad of themes, characters, and plot points to explore. Choosing the right essay topic is crucial to producing a compelling and insightful piece of writing. In this guide, we will discuss the importance of selecting the right topic, offer advice on how to choose one, and provide a detailed list of recommended essay topics.

The Importance of Choosing the Right Topic

Choosing the right topic is crucial when writing an essay about The Tempest. The play is rich in symbolism, themes, and complex characters, offering a wide range of potential topics to explore. A well-chosen topic can make the writing process more enjoyable and help you produce a more engaging and insightful essay.

When selecting a topic for your essay on The Tempest, consider your interests, the themes you find most compelling, and the aspects of the play you want to explore in-depth. It's also important to consider the requirements of the assignment and the audience for your essay. Aim to choose a topic that allows you to demonstrate your understanding of the play and offers ample opportunities for analysis and interpretation.

30+ The Tempest Essay Topics for Your Academic Writing

Are you looking for an interesting and unique topic for your essay on The Tempest? Look no further! We have compiled a list of over 30 essay topics that cover a wide range of themes and elements from this classic play by William Shakespeare.

Themes and Motifs

  • The use of magic and supernatural elements in The Tempest
  • The theme of power and control in the play
  • Colonialism and imperialism in The Tempest
  • The concept of freedom and servitude in the play
  • The role of forgiveness and reconciliation in the play
  • Familial relationships and the theme of forgiveness
  • Nature versus nurture in the character of Caliban
  • The theme of colonization and imperialism

Characters Analysis

  • An analysis of Prospero's character and his role as a father and a ruler
  • The portrayal of Ariel as a symbol of freedom and captivity
  • Caliban as a representation of the oppressed and the other
  • The role of Miranda in the play and her relationships with other characters
  • Exploring the character development of Ferdinand throughout the play
  • The role of Caliban as a symbol of colonialism
  • The portrayal of power and authority through the character of Alonso

Symbolism and Imagery

  • An exploration of the significance of the tempest in the play
  • The use of music and sound as a symbol in The Tempest
  • The significance of the island as a setting in the play
  • The portrayal of the masque as a reflection of the play's themes
  • An analysis of the use of clothing and disguise in the play
  • The use of symbolism in The Tempest
  • The significance of the storm in the opening scene
  • Shakespeare's use of language and imagery in the play
  • The role of music and sound in The Tempest
  • The use of comedy and humor in the play

Plot and Structure

  • An examination of the role of the storm in the opening scene
  • The use of the supernatural elements to drive the plot forward
  • An analysis of the resolution and the restoration of order in the play
  • The role of the subplot involving Stephano, Trinculo, and Caliban
  • An exploration of the play's use of comedy and tragedy

Comparative Essays

  • Comparing The Tempest with other Shakespearean plays
  • The Tempest and the theme of revenge in other literary works
  • Comparing the portrayal of magic in The Tempest and other works of literature
  • The Tempest and its relation to the genre of tragicomedy

With these diverse and thought-provoking essay topics, you are sure to find the perfect inspiration for your academic writing on The Tempest. Whether you're interested in analyzing the play's themes, characters, symbolism, or plot, there are numerous avenues for exploration within the text. By choosing a topic that resonates with you and allows for in-depth analysis, you can produce a compelling and insightful essay that showcases your understanding of Shakespeare's timeless play. Happy writing!

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The Use of Words to Paint: Looking at The Language as an Art in The Tempest

The ulterior theme in the character of miranda from the tempest, analysis of prospero's behavior in the tempest, daughters: the principal driving force in the tempest, the power over "the other": isolation and injustice in literature, elemental powers in shakespeare’s the tempest, shakespeare’s criticism of colonialism in acts 1 and 2 of the tempest, analysis of prospero and ariel relationship in the tempest, "creator" and "creature" monsters in the tempest and frankenstein, the obsessive creativity of prospero in the tempest, the refinement of caliban in the tempest, comic elements in our country's good and the tempest, the combination of love and witchcraft in the tempest, the story of joseph in shakespeare’s the tempest vs. the spirit of revenge in montaigne’s cannibals, significance of the menacing force of the sea in the tempest, the use of stories as a literary device in the tempest and othello, a cinematic perspective of the relationship between art and nature in the tempest, another version of prosperity: undermining the authority of prospero, the influence of caliban and ariel on prospero, the shakespearean dystopia of aldous huxley.

November 1, 1611

  • William Shakespeare

Shakespearean Comedy, Tragicomedy

Prospero, Miranda, Ariel, Caliban, Alonso, Sebastian, Antonio, Ferdinand, Gonzalo, Adrian, Francisco, Trinculo, Stephano, Juno, Ceres, Iris, Master, Mariners, Boatswain, Nymphs, Reapers

c.1611 by William Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s tragicomedy is about a major act of betrayal, ill treatment, the development of magic arts and a plot of revenge.

Prospero, Miranda, Ariel, Caliban, Alonso, Sebastian, Antonio, Ferdinand, Gonzalo, Adrian, Francisco, Trinculo, Stephano, Juno, Ceres

The play is set on a remote island and Prospero's home is near the shore. The island is inhabited by spirits, lead by Ariel, who have magical powers.

Prospero uses magic to conjure a storm and torment the survivors of a shipwreck, including the King of Naples and Prospero’s treacherous brother, Antonio. The King’s young son Ferdinand, thought to be dead, falls in love with Prospero’s daughter Miranda. Their celebrations are cut short when Prospero confronts his brother and reveals his identity as the usurped Duke of Milan. The families are reunited and all conflict is resolved. Prospero grants Ariel his freedom and prepares to leave the island.

“Hell is empty and all the devils are here.” “We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.” “What's past is prologue.”

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The Folger Shakespeare

A Modern Perspective: The Tempest

By Barbara A. Mowat

Somewhat past the midpoint of The Tempest, King Alonso and his courtiers reach a temporary still point in their journey on Prospero’s island. Shipwrecked, they have searched for the lost Prince Ferdinand; now, exhausted, they give up the search. Into this moment of fatigue—and, for Alonso, despair—at the center of what Gonzalo calls their “maze,” enters the maze’s monster: a Harpy who threatens them with lingering torment worse than any death. For Alonso, the Harpy’s recounting of his long-ago crimes against Prospero is “monstrous”; maddened, he rushes off to leap (he thinks) into the sea, to join (he thinks) his drowned son Ferdinand.

King Alonso’s confrontation with the Harpy ( 3.3.23 –133) brings together powerfully The Tempest ’s intricate set of travel stories and its technique of presenting key dramatic moments as theatrical fantasy. The presentation of dancing islanders, a disappearing banquet, and a descending monster is the first big spectacle since the play’s opening tempest. The unexpected appearance of these island “spirits,” combined with the power of the Harpy’s speech, gives the Harpy confrontation a solidity within the story world that seems designed to rivet audience attention. At the same time, audience response to the scene is inevitably colored by curiosity about the “quaint device” that makes the banquet vanish and by awareness of Prospero looking down on his trapped enemies from “the top,” commenting on them in asides, and obtrusively turning the Harpy/king encounter into make-believe, first by telling us that the Harpy was only Ariel reciting a speech and, second, by reminding us, just before Alonso’s desperate exit to join Ferdinand in the ocean’s ooze, that Ferdinand is, at this moment, courting Miranda.

The double signals here—to the powerful moment within the story and to the deliberate theatricality with which the moment is staged—reflect larger doublenesses in this drama. They reflect, first of all, major differences in the temporal and spatial dimensions of the drama’s “story” and its “play.” The Tempest ’s “story” stretches over more than twenty-four years and several sea journeys; it embeds elements of the mythological voyages of Aeneas and of Jason and the Argonauts, of the biblical voyages of St. Paul, and of actual contemporary voyages to the new world of Virginia. The “play” that The Tempest actually presents is, in contrast, constricted within a plot-time of a single afternoon and confined to the space imagined for an island. 1 Through this particular doubling, Shakespeare creates in The Tempest a form that allows him to bring familiar voyage material to the stage in a (literally) spectacular new way.

The “story” that The Tempest tells is a story of voyages—Sycorax’s journey from Algiers, Prospero and Miranda’s journey from Milan to the island in the rotten carcass of a butt, Alonso’s voyage from Naples to Tunis across the Mediterranean Sea and thence to the island—and, on the island, a set of journeys (Ferdinand’s journey across yellow sands; Caliban, Stephano, and Trinculo’s through briers and filthy-mantled pools, and Alonso and his men’s through strange mazes) that lead, finally, back to the sea and the ship and to yet another sea journey. This complex narrative, with its immense span of chronological time, its routes stretching over most of the Mediterranean, its violent separations and losses and its culmination in royal betrothals and restorations, is the kind of story told in the massive novels, popular in Shakespeare’s time, called Greek Romances. The Tempest ’s story could have filled one or more such romance volumes or could have been presented in a narrative-like drama such as Shakespeare himself had created in Pericles and The Winter’s Tale . Instead, within the brief period of The Tempest ’s supposed action, the narrative of the twenty-four or more years preceding the shipwreck of King Alonso and his courtiers on the island—worked out by Shakespeare in elaborate detail—is told to us elaborately. The second and third scenes of The Tempest —that is, 1.2 . and 2.1 —contain close to half the lines in the play, and close to half of those lines are past-tense narration. Through Prospero, through Ariel, through Caliban, through Gonzalo, through Sebastian, through Antonio, characters in our presence (and our present) tell us their pasts.

If we take the sets of narratives embedded in 1.2 and 2.1 and roll them back to where they belong chronologically, the first story (and the most fantastic) is that of the witch Sycorax, her exile on the island, her “littering” of Caliban there, and her imprisoning of Ariel ( 1.2.308 –47)—twelve years before Prospero is thrust forth from Milan. That thrusting-forth is the subject of the next story (next chronologically, that is): the narrative of Antonio’s betrayal of Prospero and of Prospero and Miranda’s sea journey and arrival on the island ( 1.2.66 –200). Then comes the story of what happened on the island during the next twelve years, a story in which narratives that tell of Caliban ( 1.2.396 –451), of Ariel ( 1.2.287 –306, 340 –47), and of Miranda and Prospero ( 1.2.205 –8) overlap and intersect. Finally comes the story from the most recent past—the story of the Princess Claribel and her “loathness” to the marriage arranged by her father ( 2.1.131 –40), of Claribel’s wedding in Tunis ( 2.1.71 –111), of the return journey of Alonso and his courtiers ( 2.1.112 –17), and of the shipwreck as described by Ariel ( 1.2.232 –80).

One of the most powerful features of the form Shakespeare crafted in The Tempest is that this detailed, complex narrative, told us in the first part of the play, keeps reappearing within the play’s action. The story of the coup d’état that expelled Prospero “twelve year since,” for example, is made the model for the Antonio/Sebastian assassination plot (“Thy case, dear friend,” says Sebastian to Antonio, “shall be my precedent: as thou got’st Milan, I’ll come by Naples” [ 2.1.332 –34]); the story appears at the center of the Harpy’s message ( 3.3.86 –93); and it is told yet once again by Prospero when, in the play’s final scene, he attempts to forgive Antonio ( 5.1.80 –89). Caliban’s story—“this island is mine”; “I serve a tyrant”—is told by him again and again. The story of Sycorax, who died years before the dramatic “now,” is alluded to so often—her powers described one last time by Prospero even as the play is ending ( 5.1.323 –26)—that she seems to haunt the play, as does the absent, distant, unhappy Claribel.

As the play reaches its conclusion, each of the stories recounted in the early narrative scenes is conjured up a final time, though the pressure now is toward the future—toward the nuptials of the royal couple, toward a royal lineage with Prospero’s heirs as kings of Naples. As that virtual future is created, the structuring process of the opening scenes is reversed: where narrative was there incorporated into the play, now the play opens back out into the next pages of the narrative from which it had emerged. As we watch and listen, the play we have been experiencing moves into the past, becomes a moment in the tale Prospero promises to tell to the voyagers—“such discourse as . . . shall make [the night] / Go quick away: the story of my life / And the particular accidents gone by / Since I came to this isle” ( 5.1.361 –64). As Alonso notes, this is a “story . . . which must / Take the ear strangely” ( 5.1.371 –72).

By folding the story into the play and then unfolding the play into its own virtual narrative future, Shakespeare creates a form in which past and future press on the present dramatic moment with peculiar intensity. We sense this throughout the play, but see it with special clarity in the confrontation between Alonso and the Harpy. The Harpy brings the past to Alonso as a burden Alonso must pick up—an intolerable burden for Alonso, who goes mad under the simultaneous recognition of his guilt and its consequences, given to him as Time Past, Time Present, and Time Future. In Time Past: “you . . . / From Milan did supplant good Prospero, / Exposed unto the sea . . . / Him and his innocent child” ( 3.3.87 –90); in Time Present: “for which foul deed, / The powers . . . have / Incensed the seas and shores, yea, all the creatures / Against your peace. Thee of thy son, Alonso, / They have bereft” ( 90 –94); and finally, in Time Future: “Ling’ring perdition . . . shall step by step attend / You and your ways, whose wraths to guard you from— / Which here, in this most desolate isle, else fells / Upon your heads—is nothing but heart’s sorrow / And a clear life ensuing” ( 95 –101). This pressure of past and future on the present moment—a pressure that is created in large part by the way Shakespeare folds chronological time into plot-time, and that we feel throughout the play in Prospero’s tension, in Ariel’s restiveness, in Caliban’s fury—makes believable in The Tempest that which is normally suspect: namely, instant repentance, instant inner transformation. Because the dramatic present is so permeated with the play’s virtual past, so pressured by the future—the six o’clock toward which the play rushes, after which Time as Opportunity will be gone—that Alonso’s anguished repentance, his descent into silence, madness, and unceasing tears, his immediate surrender of Milan to Prospero and the reward of being given back his lost son—can all take place in moments, and can, even so, seem credible and wonderful.

The interplay between The Tempest ’s elaborate voyage story and its tightly constricted “play” is not the only doubleness toward which the drama’s Harpy/king encounter points us. It points as well to two kinds of travel tales embedded in the drama: ancient, fictional voyage narratives and contemporary travelers’ tales buzzing around London at the time the play was being written. The Harpy/king encounter is shaped as a sequence of verbal and visual events that in effect reenact and thus recall ancient confrontations between harpies and sea voyagers. In each of these harpy incidents—from the third century B.C. Argonautica through the first century B.C. Aeneid to The Tempest itself—harpies are ministers of the gods sent to punish those who have angered the gods; they punish by devouring or despoiling food; and they are associated with dire prophecies. The Tempest ’s enactment of the harpy encounter is thus one in a line of harpy stories stretching into the past from this island and this set of voyagers to Aeneas, and through Aeneas back to Jason and the crucial encounter between the terrible harpies (the “hounds of mighty Zeus”) and the Argonauts. 2 In replicating the sequence of events of voyagers meeting harpies, combining details from Jason’s story and from the Aeneid, Shakespeare directs attention to the specific context in which such harpy confrontations appear and within which The Tempest clearly belongs—that of literary fictional voyages.

At the same time, he surrounds the encounter with dialogue that would remind his audience of present-day voyages of their own fellow Londoners. Geographical expansion, around-the-world journeys, explorations of the new world of the Americas had heightened the stay-at-homes’ fascination with the strange creatures reported by travelers. Real-world creatures like crocodiles and hippopotami, fantastic creatures like unicorns and griffins, reported monstrosities like the men whose heads grow beneath their shoulders—all were, at the time, equally real (or unreal) and equally fascinating. The dialogue preceding the Harpy’s descent in The Tempest centers on such fabulous creatures. When the supposed “islanders”—creatures of “monstrous shape”—appear, bringing in the banquet, Sebastian says: “Now I will believe / That there are unicorns, that in Arabia / There is one tree, the phoenix’ throne, one phoenix / At this hour reigning there.” “Travelers ne’er did lie,” says Antonio, “Though fools at home condemn ’em.” Gonzalo adds, “If in Naples / I should report this now, would they believe me? / If I should say I saw such islanders . . . ” ( 3.3.26 –36). It is into this dialogue-context that the Harpy descends—that is, into a discussion of fantastic travelers’ tales and fabulous creatures.

When the Harpy—one of these creatures—actually appears, claps its wings upon the table, and somehow makes the food disappear ( 3.3.69 SD), she is very real to Alonso and his men—as real as the harpies were to Jason and to Aeneas; as real as the hippopotami and anthropophagi were to fifteenth-century explorers; as real as is Caliban, the monster mooncalf, to his discoverers Stephano and Trinculo. The attempts to kill the Harpy are classical responses—that is, they are the responses of Jason and Aeneas when confronted by the terrible bird-women. The response of Stephano and Trinculo to their man-monster is a more typically sixteenth-century response to the fabulous. When, for example, Stephano finds Trinculo and Caliban huddled under a cloak and thinks he has discovered a “most delicate monster” with four legs and two voices, he responds with the greed that we associate with Martin Frobisher and other sixteenth-century New World explorers who brought natives from North America to England to put on display: “If I can recover him,” says Stephano, “and keep him tame and get to Naples with him, he’s a present for any emperor that ever trod on neat’s leather. . . . He shall pay for him that hath him, and that soundly” ( 2.2.69 –81). Trinculo had responded with equal greed to his first sight of the frightened Caliban:

What have we here, a man or a fish? . . . A strange fish. Were I in England . . . and had but this fish painted, not a holiday fool there but would give a piece of silver. There would this monster make a man. Any strange beast there makes a man. When they will not give a doit to relieve a lame beggar, they will lay out ten to see a dead Indian.

( 2.2.25 –34)

While the finding and subjugating of “wild men” was a feature that ancient and new-world voyage stories held in common (for example, Jupiter promises that Aeneas, as the climax of his sea journeys, will “wage a great war in Italy, and . . . crush wild peoples and set up laws for men and build walls” 3 ), Prospero’s subjugation of Caliban has a particularly New World flavor. The play itself, no matter how steeped it is in ancient voyage literature and no matter how much emphasis it places on its Mediterranean setting, is also a representation of New World exploration. While it retells the stories of Aeneas and of Jason, it also stages a particular Virginia voyage that, in 1610–11, was the topic of sermons, published government accounts, and first-person epistles, many of which Shakespeare drew on in crafting The Tempest . The story, in brief, goes as follows: A fleet of ships set out in 1609 from England carrying a new governor—Sir Thomas Gates—to the struggling Virginia colony in Jamestown. The fleet was caught in a tempest off the coast of Bermuda. All of the ships survived the storm and sailed on to Virginia—except the flagship, the Sea-Venture, carrying the governor, the admiral of the fleet, and other important officials. A year later, the exhausted and dispirited colonists in Jamestown were astounded when two boats sailed up the James River carrying the supposedly drowned governor and his companions. The crew and passengers on the flagship had survived the storm, had lived for a year in the Bermudas, had built new ships, and had made it safely to Virginia. News of the happy ending to this “tragicomedy,” as one who reported the story called it, soon reached London, and many details of the story are preserved in The Tempest .

Among the details may be the disturbing picture of the relationship of the “settlers” and the “Indians” in Jamestown, represented perhaps in Caliban and his relationship with Prospero. In one of the documents used by Shakespeare in writing The Tempest, William Strachey describes an incident in which “certain Indians,” finding a man alone, “seized the poor fellow and led him up in to the woods and sacrificed him.” Strachey writes that the lieutenant governor was very disturbed by this incident, since hitherto he “would not by any means be wrought to a violent proceeding against them [i.e., the Indians] for all the practices of villainy with which they daily endangered our men.” This incident, though, made him “well perceive” that “fair and noble treatment” had little effect “upon a barbarous disposition,” and “therefore . . . purposed to be revenged.” The revenge took the form of an attack upon an Indian village. 4

As we read Strachey’s account today, we find much in the behavior of the settlers toward the natives that is appalling, so that the account is not for us simply that of “good white men” against “bad Indians,” as it was for Strachey. In the same way, whether or not this particular lieutenant governor and these treacherous “Indians” are represented in The Tempest, Shakespeare’s decision to include a “wild man” among his island’s cast of characters, and (as Stephen Greenblatt notes) to place him in opposition to a European prince whose power lies in his language and his books, 5 raises a host of questions for us about the play. The Tempest was written just as England was beginning what would become massive empire-building through the subjugating of others and the possessing of their lands. European nations—Spain, in particular—had already taken over major land areas, and Shakespeare and his contemporaries had available to them many accounts of native peoples and of European colonizers’ treatment of such peoples. Many such accounts are like Strachey’s: they describe a barbarous people who refuse to be “civilized,” who have no language, who have a “nature” on which “nurture will never stick” (as Prospero says of Caliban). Other accounts describe instead cultural differences in which that which is different is not necessarily inferior or “barbarous.” When Gonzalo says (at 2.1.157 –60), “Had I plantation [i.e., colonization] of this isle . . . And were the King on ’t, what would I do?” he answers his own question by describing the Utopia he would set up ( lines 162 –84), taking his description from Montaigne’s essay “Of the Cannibals.” In this essay, Montaigne (“whose supple mind,” writes Ronald Wright, “exemplifies Western civilization at its best” 6 ) argues in effect that American “savages” are in many ways more moral, more humane people than so-called civilized Europeans.

As with so much of The Tempest, Caliban may be seen as representing two quite different images. Shakespeare gives him negative traits attached to New World natives (traits that seem to many today to smack of racist responses to the strange and to the Other) while giving him at the same time a richly poetic language and a sensitive awareness of nature and the supernatural. He places Caliban in relation to Prospero (as Caliban’s master and the island’s “colonizer”), to Miranda (as the girl who taught Caliban language and whom he tried to rape), and indirectly to Ferdinand (who, like Caliban, is made to carry logs and who will father Miranda’s children as Caliban had wished to do). Shakespeare thus creates in the center of this otherworldly play a confrontation that speaks eloquently to late-twentieth-century readers and audiences living with the aftereffects of the massive colonizing of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and observing the continuing life of “empire” in the interactions between the powerful and the formerly colonized states. 7 As many readers and audiences today look back at the centuries of colonization of the Americas, Africa, and India from, as it were, Caliban’s perspective, The Tempest, once considered Shakespeare’s most serene, most lyrical play, is now put forward as his representation, for good or ill, of the colonizing and the colonized. 8

This relatively new interest in the colonization depicted in The Tempest has had a profound impact on attitudes toward Prospero. For centuries seen as spokesman for Shakespeare himself, as the benign, profound magician-artist who presides like a god over an otherworldly kingdom, Prospero is now perceived as one of Shakespeare’s most complex creations. He brings to the island books, Old World language, and the power to hurt and to control; he thus figures an early form of the colonizer. But he carries with him other, complicating associations. He is, for example, a figure familiar in voyage romances popular in Shakespeare’s day. The hermit magician (or exiled doctor, or some equivalent) in Greek Romance tales comes to the aid of heroes and heroines, protects them, heals them, often teaches them who they really are. In such stories, the focus is always on the lost, shipwrecked, searching man or woman—that is, on the Alonso figure or the Ferdinand or the Miranda figure. In The Tempest, Prospero, the hermit magician, is center stage, and the lost, shipwrecked, and searching are seen by us through him and in relation to him. Prospero thus carries a kind of power and an aura of ultimately benevolent intention that complicates the colonizer image.

Prospero is also the creator of the maze in which the other characters find themselves—“as strange a maze as e’er men trod,” says Alonso ( 5.1.293 )—and thus carries yet other complicating associations. The scene of the Harpy/king encounter opens with Gonzalo’s “Here’s a maze trod indeed through forthrights and meanders,” a statement that picks up suggestively Ovid’s description of that most infamous of mazes, created by Daedalus to enclose the Minotaur. The Daedalus story has unexpected but rich links with The Tempest . Daedalus, the quintessential artist/engineer/magician, built the maze to sty the monstrous creature that he had helped to bring into being. (It was sired by a bull on King Minos’ queen, but it was Daedalus who had lured the bull to the queen, encasing her, at her urgings, in the wooden shape of a cow.) Having built the maze, Daedalus (in Golding’s 1567 translation of Ovid’s Metamorphosis ) “scarce himselfe could find the meanes to wind himself well out / So busie and so intricate” was the labyrinth he had created (Book 8, lines 210–20).

The story of the maze and its Minotaur is a familiar one, involving the sacrifice of Greek youths to the bloodthirsty Minotaur, an annual horror that stopped only with Theseus’ slaughter of the Minotaur and his escape from the maze through the aid of King Minos’ daughter, Ariadne, whom Theseus marries and then abandons. Less familiar is the connection between the story of the maze and that of Daedalus and his son Icarus’ flight from the island of Crete:

Now in this while [when Theseus was overcoming

the Minotaur] gan Daedalus a weariness to take

Of living like a banisht man and prisoner such a time

In Crete, and longed in his heart to see his native

But Seas enclosed him as if he had in prison be.

Then thought he: though both Sea and land King

Minos stop fro me,

I am assured he cannot stop the Aire and open

It is at this point that Daedalus turns to “uncoth Arts” (i.e., magic), bending “the force of all his wits / To alter natures course by craft”—and he constructs the famous wings that take him home, at the cost of the life of his son, who falls into the sea and drowns.

When Prospero stands “on the top,” looking down and commenting on the trapped figures below him, he to some extent figures the magician/artist Daedalus. Throughout the play he, like Daedalus, is almost trapped in his own intricate maze, an exile who “gan . . . a weariness to take / Of living like a banisht man and prisoner such a time,” who “longed in his heart to see his native Clime,” and who thus bent “the force of all his wits” and his magic powers to find a way to get himself and his child home. The associations of Prospero with Daedalus, his maze, and his magic flight are less accessible to us today than they would have been to a Renaissance audience. But the sense of Prospero’s weariness, of his hatred of exile, of the danger facing him as he heads back to Milan having abjured his magic—these complicating emotional factors, even without a specific awareness of the Daedalus parallels, are available to us. We notice them especially in Prospero’s epilogue, where he begs our help in wafting him off the island and safely back home.

Like The Tempest itself, then, Prospero is complicated, double. He, like the play, is woven from a variety of story materials, and like the play he represents a particular moment, the moment at which began a period of colonizing and empire-building that would completely alter the world, leaving a legacy with which we still live. But he, like the play, also embodies ancient stories of travel and exile and the emotions that accompany them. And The Tempest ’s nineteenth- and twentieth-century retellings and sequels (Browning’s “Caliban on Setebos,” Aimé Césaire’s Une Tempête, Auden’s “The Sea and the Mirror,” and such film versions as Forbidden Planet and Peter Greenaway’s Prospero’s Books, to name but a few) suggest that those stories and emotions have continued to intrigue. The magician fascinates, the journey and the maze still tempt, despite the near certainty that magic—like all power—tends to corrupt and that islands and labyrinths hold as many monsters as they do “revels.”

  • I am using the word “story” here both in its general sense of a narration of events and in the more particular sense that translates the Russian formalists’ term “fabula”—that is, the events sequenced in chronological order. The formalists contrast the “fabula” with the “szujet”—the fiction as structured by the author (a term I translate as “play”). See Keir Elam’s The Semiotics of Theatre and Drama (London and New York: Methuen, 1980), pp. 119–26.
  • See Barbara A. Mowat, “‘And that’s true, too’: Structures and Meaning in The Tempest ,” Renaissance Papers 1976 , pp. 37–50. The pertinent sections of the Argonaut stories are Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 2:178–535, and Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 4:422–636; Virgil’s account of the Harpies as encountered by Aeneas and his men is found in the Aeneid 3:210–69.
  • Aeneid , Book I, lines 261–64 (Guildford trans.).
  • “A True Reportory of the Wreck and Redemption of Sir Thomas Gates, Knight,” in A Voyage to Virginia in 1609 , ed. Louis B. Wright (Charlottesville: The University Press of Virginia, 1964), pp. 1–101, esp. pp. 88–89.
  • “Learning to Curse: Aspects of Linguistic Colonialism in the Sixteenth Century,” in Learning to Curse: Essays in Early Modern Culture (New York and London: Routledge, 1990), pp. 23–26.
  • Stolen Continents: The “New World” Through Indian Eyes (Toronto: Penguin Books, 1993).
  • See Edward W. Said, “Empire, Geography, and Culture” and “Images of the Past, Pure and Impure,” in Culture and Imperialism (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993), pp. 3–14, 15–19.
  • For example, in “Nymphs and reapers heavily vanish: the discursive con-texts of The Tempest ,” Alternative Shakespeares , ed. John Drakakis (pp. 192–205), Francis Barker and Peter Hulme state that “the discourse of colonialism” is the “dominant discursive con-text” for the play.

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The Tempest

By william shakespeare, the tempest essay questions.

To what extent can Prospero can be considered the protagonist of the play?

Many would agree that Prospero is the protagonist of the play, given that he starts out as a sympathetic character who has been robbed of his station and betrayed by his brother. However, Prospero is not a straightforward or traditional hero. Instead, he relies on his magic to control and manipulate others on the island while also maintaining control over his young adult daughter, Miranda. While audiences are likely to sympathize and root for Prospero's success, the play presents a rather nuanced portrait of its protagonist, leading many to compare Prospero to the playwright whose dedication to their craft outweighs their sense of social or filial duty. When Prospero renounces his magic at the end of the play, he is in many ways restored to hero status, having recognized that his ability to control others is a dangerous power to wield.

In what ways is Caliban a representation of colonization?

Caliban is the only character in the play who is native to the island on which The Tempest takes place. As such, he has long been interpreted as a figure of the effects of colonization and specifically of English imperialism. Caliban is treated by Prospero and Miranda as both a monster, a pupil, a son, and a servant: he is grateful to be able to curse Miranda in her own language, but later uses that same language with mastery and eloquence. The play stops short of expressing a direct judgement of English colonization, instead using the relationship between Prospero and Caliban to explore the complex social and filial dynamics that arise from imperial pursuits.

How does Miranda change over the course of the play?

One quality of Miranda's that is stressed throughout the play is her purity and innocence. Both Prospero and Ferdinand appear interested in preserving her virginity, if for different reasons (Ferdinand for assurance that any children they have will be biologically his, and Prospero for continued control over his surroundings). However, as the play develops, Miranda starts to show signs of budding autonomy – specifically sexual autonomy. She all but demands that Ferdinand marry her, and in so doing makes a choice on her own that reflects her growth from a girl to a woman. Prospero's preoccupation with Miranda's continued purity is therefore challenged by Miranda's own expression of love for Ferdinand, showcasing how even Prospero's magic cannot prevent his daughter from maturing.

Why must Prospero relinquish his powers at the end of the play?

At the end of the play, Prospero renounces his magical powers in order to restore his dukedom. However, he does not do so simply to return to power. Instead, Prospero comes to realize that it was his commitment to his magic that led to his usurpation and exile in the first place. When he agrees to renounce his books, he is really agreeing to be a more committed leader and to relinquish false power – his ability to control his surroundings and the experiences of others – for real and meaningful power in the form of political leadership.

Why do many see Prospero as a representative of Shakespeare himself?

Prospero is often compared to the William Shakespeare because of his dedication to his craft – specifically, the craft of creating whole worlds out of nothing, a task that parallels the role of the early modern English dramatist. Shakespeare wrote The Tempest toward the end of his career, and many see Prospero as the manifestation of the Bard's own reckoning with his departure from the theater. Indeed, Prospero's final speech – in which he asks for applause from the audience in order to be set "free" – is frequently understood as Shakespeare's personal farewell to the English stage.

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The Tempest Questions and Answers

The Question and Answer section for The Tempest is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.

significance of the storm in the Opening act

In The Tempest, the storm at sea serves as the plot's inciting event. The storm washes Prospero 's enemies onto the island's shore, placing them at his mercy. In this sense the tempest or storm represents a disturbance of the social order. It also...

The Tempest, Act 1

She feels that she is on the boat herself. She has empathy, a trait that defines her through the play.

How long have Ferdinand and Miranda known each other when they decide to marry?

In Act III, Ferdinand and Miranda express their love for each other, and both express their desire to be married, though they have known each other for less than a day.

Study Guide for The Tempest

The Tempest study guide contains a biography of William Shakespeare, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.

  • About The Tempest
  • The Tempest Summary
  • The Tempest Video
  • Character List

Essays for The Tempest

The Tempest literature essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of The Tempest.

  • Similarities Between Principal Characters in Shakespeare's The Tempest
  • A Post-Colonial Interpretation of The Tempest
  • The Fierce and Mighty Sea; The Dramatic Function of the Powerful and Ever Present Ocean in The Tempest
  • The Sensitive Beast: Shakespeare's Presentation of Caliban
  • Love and Magic Intertwined

Lesson Plan for The Tempest

  • About the Author
  • Study Objectives
  • Common Core Standards
  • Introduction to The Tempest
  • Relationship to Other Books
  • Bringing in Technology
  • Notes to the Teacher
  • Related Links
  • The Tempest Bibliography

E-Text of The Tempest

The Tempest E-Text contains the full text of The Tempest

  • List of Characters

Wikipedia Entries for The Tempest

  • Introduction
  • Date and sources

the tempest essay

the tempest essay

The Tempest

William shakespeare, everything you need for every book you read..

Loss and Restoration Theme Icon

From the opening scene of The Tempest during the storm, when the ruling courtiers on the ship must take orders from their subjects, the sailors and the boatswain, The Tempest examines a variety of questions about power: Who has it and when? Who's entitled to it? What does the responsible exercise of power look like? How should power be transferred? The play is full of examples of power taken by force, and in each case these actions lead to political instability and further attempts to gain power through violence. Antonio and Alonso's overthrow of Prospero leads to Antonio and Sebastian's plot to overthrow Alonso, just as Prospero's overthrow and enslavement of Caliban leads Caliban to seek revenge.

Ultimately, it is only when Prospero breaks the cycle of violence by refusing to take revenge on Alonso, Antonio, Sebastian, or Caliban that the political tensions in the play are calmed and reconciled. After Prospero's merciful refusal to seek revenge, Alonso and Prospero quickly come to an understanding and unite their once warring cities through the marriage of their children. The Tempest suggests that compromise and compassion are more effective political tools than violence, imprisonment, or even magic.

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Power Quotes in The Tempest

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The Tempest Essay Topics & Examples

Students’ life is a bumpy ride, and sometimes you can end up with several vital assignments all of which are due the next day. experts have prepared a compilation of The Tempest essay topics.  

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On this page, you’ll find best questions, prompts, title ideas on the Shakespeare’s play, together with The Tempest essay examples. Feel free to alter and adjust them to your liking and academic requirements!

  • 🏆 Essay Topics
  • 💡 Essay Prompts
  • 📝 Essay Examples

🏆 The Tempest Essay Topics

  • Revenge and forgiveness in The Tempest
  • Colonialism and slavery in The Tempest
  • The role of setting in The Tempest
  • How is Caliban presented in The Tempest?
  • Prospero: character analysis
  • Frankenstein and The Tempest: compare and contrast essay
  • The theme of magic in The Tempest
  • Love and relationships in The Tempest
  • Gender roles in Shakespeare’s plays
  • King Alonso: character traits
  • Non-human beings in The Tempest
  • The symbolism of Prospero’s books

💡 The Tempest Essay Prompts

  • The analysis of Shakespeare’s messages hidden behind the central themes . The first thing you need to find out is what the theme of The Tempest is. There may be more than one, so you should choose those that seem to be the most important. If you have doubts, go back and look through our guide again!
  • Discussion of the historical context of The Tempest with the focus on colonization . It appears that the play was quite relevant at the time. No wonder, because Shakespeare took a chance and used the most discussed topic as the theme. Therefore, your main task would be to find out how the views about colonial imperialism are expressed in The Tempest .
  • What is the role of comic scenes in the play’s plot ? The Tempest is considered to be a comedy since it involves plenty of funny moments. The most memorable ones are performed by the drunken trio. The main idea of this essay is to analyze how those scenes go along with the main plot.
  • How vital are audio impressions and noises in the play? You should start by looking for the moments where various sounds and music are described. Since every element of imagery adds to the overall impression from the play, it is essential to find out what role they play.
  • Colonization in The Tempest : how do characters want to rule the island? It might be a part of the central theme dedicated to colonization, but an additional analysis might be fun to do. After getting on the island, almost all the characters start dreaming about owning it. They all have a different vision of how they would rule it, though.
  • Discuss the impressions from the very first scene of the play. Here is the place for you to analyze everything mentioned in Scene 1 that influenced your perception of the whole play. For example, see how the characters are presented and what their dialogues tell about them. How are the main themes introduced?
  • Contrast and compare The Tempest to one of Shakespeare’s tragedies. Prospero has been planning his revenge for so many years. His desire could have easily turned out as a tragedy for every character if it wasn’t for romance. Therefore, you should look into the differences between this aspect in The Tempest and a tragedy.
  • Draw a parallel between the attempted assassination of Alonso and plotting against Prospero. The two of the king’s staff, along with Caliban, are planning on taking the place of the island’s rulers by killing Prospero. Meanwhile, there is an attempt to murder Alonso. Your task is to compare these two occasions and see how social status might affect them.
  • What roles does Prospero take on, and what is their significance? It seems like Prospero wants to have as much power as he can. He is a father, friend, magician, island’s ruler, and desires to return home to be a duke again. However, it is impossible to have everything. Analyze Prospero’s character and find out which role he is most likely to choose.
  • Analyze and discuss the purpose of Caliban’s character in the play. At first, it seems like Caliban plays a critical role in The Tempest . However, at the end of the play, the audience can see that his part is insignificant. Therefore, your task for this essay would be to find out why Shakespeare involved Caliban after all.
  • The complete literary analysis of Shakespeare’s The Tempest . It is one of the primary and most straightforward topics about the play. However, attention to detail is vital. Try to include the most critical elements in there, such as the central themes and ideas, symbols , literary devices. If you need help with it, just look through our guide!
  • Does Caliban really need to be trained and educated? From Prospero’s point of view, Caliban is a savage who desperately needs help to become more civilized. In this essay, you can let your perspective create the structure. Do you think Prospero should have left Caliban in peace? What is the role of colonization in it?
  • Appearances of feminism in Shakespeare’s The Tempest . Even though there is only one female character in the play, this issue still appears to be relevant. Miranda is always kind to Caliban until the moment he tries to sexually abuse her. Explain what her actions were and how her attitude has changed since then.
  • Discuss the theme of religion and Christianity in the play. If you look closely, you can see some associations between Christianity and Prospero’s character. He is almost seen as God due to his powers and control over the events on the island. In the end, he refuses to use magic any longer and forgives his enemies. Can it be a biblical reference?
  • The correlation between political corruption and greed of the characters. Antonio is the main character in the play, which shows intense greed for power. He is ready to pay any price to get more power, so his personal ethics degrades quickly. However, you should find out about the role of political corruption in Antonio’s actions and plans.
  • What is Miranda’s perception of the island in The Tempest ? She was taken to the island when she was a child. How do you think Miranda perceives her new home as an adult? Does it seem like a prison to her, or does Prospero’s magic makes her believe the island is a utopia?

📝 The Tempest Essay Examples

  • Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” and Sandars’ “The Epics of Gigamesh”
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  • Ahab from Moby Dick and Prospero from the Tempest
  • The Phaedrus and The Tempest: Compare & Contrast
  • Prospero in The Tempest: Character Analysis
  • The Tempest and the Contemporary Arts
  • “The Tempest” Play by St. Louis Shakespeare Theater
  • Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” by Savage Rose Theatre
  • Shakespeare’s The Tempest: Gender Roles
  • Utopia in “The Tempest” by Shakespeare
  • Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Image Exploration

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The Tempest Study Guide

The Tempest is one of the most beloved plays written by Shakespeare. The story is about the duke of Milan who had to escape to an island. Prospero uses magic to revenge his brother for betrayal and takes control over the royal party for that. If it sounds intriguing, you...

The Tempest Summary

The Tempest is a unique and beautiful play that focuses on love and forgiveness at the crossroad of betrayal and magic. The main actions happen on a small island somewhere near Italy. The ship crushes there after a storm. An old magician Prospero and his daughter, Miranda, who live there...

The Tempest Characters

Looking for The Tempest characters? Find them all analyzed here! This article by experts contains character descriptions and analysis of Prospero, Miranda, Alonso, and other characters, as well as The Tempest character map. 🗺️ The Tempest Character Map Below you’ll find The Tempest character map. It contains all the...

The Tempest Themes

Shakespeare tends to focus on very specific issues in each of his masterpieces. In The Tempest, the themes of power and magic are the dominant ones. However, a little bit of attention is also drawn to the topic of colonization. Looking for The Tempest themes? Find them all described here!...

The Tempest Analysis: Literary Devices & Symbols

In case you are one of those who love getting into details or just a student who needs help with literature assignments, The Tempest analysis section prepared by experts is what you need. Here, we discuss The Tempest genre and some details about the setting. There is also the...

The Tempest Questions and Answers

Have you already looked through our complete guide and still have questions? It’s not always easy to grasp the deep meaning of one topic or another just after reading someone else’s opinion. Or do you have an upcoming assignment on Shakespeare’s The Tempest? This section is the best way to...

Who Is Caliban in The Tempest?

In The Tempest, Caliban is the local half-monster who was unfortunate enough to become a slave. Prospero was trying to civilize him by giving language lessons. However, the only thing Caliban actually wants is freedom and his rightful land. He even plots against his master, but the murder plan never...

What Does Tempest Mean?

Tempest means a violent and intense storm. It is somewhat significant that The Tempest by Shakespeare opens up with the storm that carries the boat to the island. However, the detailed analysis of the plot and the characters reveals that the title is mainly related to the turmoil of emotions...

In The Tempest, Which Word Describes Miranda?

In Shakespeare’s play, Miranda is described as an innocent and empathetic girl. She is a relatively passive character and the only female character in The Tempest. She may seem quite naïve and helpless to the audience, but a few scenes can prove them wrong. She transcends her traditional gender role...

What Action Does Caliban Suggest When He Discusses Killing Prospero with Stephano and Trinculo?

When Caliban finds new friends, Stephano and Trinculo, he asks them to help him with the assassination of his master. They plot to take away Prospero’s books to disarm him and kill him when he is taking a nap. To motivate his fellows, he promises that they would get control...

What Is Caliban’s Relationship to Prospero in The Tempest

In Shakespeare’s play, Caliban is ultimately seen as Prospero’s slave. Their relationship highlights one of the central themes of The Tempest concerning colonialism and imperialism. He is the only native inhabitant on the island and is not treated well by his master. Caliban wishes ill to Prospero and wants to...

Which Aspect of The Tempest Is the Best Demonstration of a Difference in Power?

Shakespeare’s play includes characters of different levels of power. However, since the latter is one of the key play’s literary themes, the division between them is pretty straightforward. The characters who use magic are way more potent than the ones that don’t. Moreover, Prospero is considered to be in control...

Which Line from The Tempest Is Written in Iambic Pentameter?

There are many lines in The Tempest that Shakespeare wrote in iambic pentameter, so it is hard to pick only one. As an example, the line where Miranda says, “O brave new world,” is perhaps the most famous one. Mostly, the noble characters speak in verse while the others use...

Who is Prospero in The Tempest?

Prospero is the main character of Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest. He was betrayed by his brother and had to seek another home. A remote island appeared to be a nice place, so Prospero and his daughter settled there. Over the years, he has been planning revenge with the help of...

Why Does Prospero Give up His Magic?

In the play, Prospero is presented as a magician who gets his fantastic powers from the books. There are a lot of things that he managed to achieve thanks to that power. However, by the end of The Tempest, Prospero swears to throw away all his books and put an...

In The Tempest, Why Does Ariel Do as Prospero Orders Him?

In Shakespeare’s play, Ariel is portrayed as a magical spirit under Prospero’s control. Throughout the whole play, he has to complete different tasks the magician gives him. Every time Ariel hopes that it would be the last one, but he doesn’t get his freedom back until the end of The...

What Is a Major Difference in the Way That Caliban and Ariel Are Treated?

Caliban and Ariel live on the remote island which Prospero claimed and took under his control. Both characters of The Tempest have a similar fate since the magician forced them both to serve him. However, the significant difference between them is that Caliban is not treated as respectfully as Ariel....

Which of Prospero’s Actions Most Clearly Indicates That He Is Manipulative?

There seem to be too many things that Prospero does, showing how manipulative he is. The character possessing such a power uses it to alter the events in the play and force others to obey. However, one of his actions shows it most clearly. Prospero uses magic to put his...

Who Is Alonso in The Tempest?

Alonso is the king of Naples in the play. Together with the members of the royal party, he gets into the storm and ends up on an unknown island. It appears to be a pretty tragic occurrence since his son, Ferdinand, goes missing. By the end of the play, Alonso...

What Positive Quality Does Caliban Possess?

Caliban is the only islander found by Prospero and Miranda in the play. Even though he shows quite a negative attitude towards other characters throughout the whole story, there is something positive in him. Caliban loves his homeland, and he is ready to share all the knowledge he has about...

When Did Shakespeare Write The Tempest?

It is believed that Shakespeare created his masterpiece in 1610 or 1611. However, it is hard to judge which data is correct. The evidence shows that the first performance of The Tempest was in November 1611. Moreover, it appears to be one of the last plays ever written by Shakespeare....

How Is Ariel Portrayed in the Balinese Production of The Tempest?

In the original play, Ariel is a spirit that was trapped on the island. When Prospero freed him, he made Ariel his servant in return. Therefore, throughout The Tempest, the spirit has to attend to the magician’s wishes. In the Balinese production, Ariel resembles an animal and flies around instead...

Who Is Gonzalo in The Tempest?

Gonzalo is a member of the royal party who appears to be on the boat with the others. He is the king’s counselor and the one who is worried about Alonso the most. Throughout the play, he tries to do everything to help the king and protect him from the...

How Are Themes of Colonialism and Imperialism Most Clearly Shown in Shakespeare’s The Tempest?

Shakespeare included the themes of colonialism and imperialism in The Tempest for a reason. Moreover, they are most clearly represented through Prospero and Caliban’s relationship in the play. Prospero is pictured as a typical colonizer who doesn’t respect the locals and only wants to take over the land for personal...

Which Character Relationship in The Tempest Is the Best Representation of Linguistic Imperialism?

It may not appear obvious, but there is an example of linguistic imperialism in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Prospero and Caliban have a pretty complicated relationship which reflects a typical situation between the colonizer and the locals at the time. It results in the unpleasant occurrence of language barrier and misunderstanding,...

In What Way Does Shakespeare’s The Tempest Resist Traditional Genre Classification?

Usually, Shakespeare’s The Tempest is classified as a comedy. There are all the aspects pointing out at it, such as humorous situations and many misunderstandings that end up being clarified. A happy celebration of marriage at the end also aligns with it. However, some of the play’s scenes include tragic...

Which Production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest Is Most Clearly an Interpretation?

Among the different productions of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, there are some that can be clearly considered an interpretation. For example, the audience would know that the one in which Prospero shows sympathy to Caliban is far from the original. The magician doesn’t actually act as fair and kind towards his...

Is The Tempest a Comedy or Tragedy?

Shakespeare’s The Tempest is generally considered a comedy. The plot is based on a series of misunderstandings that turn out to be comic by the end of the play. Moreover, no one dies, even though some of the characters get lost or upset. However, there are some small elements of...

What Interpretation of The Tempest Was the Same in Both the Utah Valley University and Balinese Productions?

In both the Utah Valley University and Balinese productions, several characters from the play are pictured very similarly. The interpretations of Prospero, Caliban, and Ariel appear to be the same in both perceptions. The main character is shown as a powerful magician who made the islander and the spirit his...

Who Is Sebastian in The Tempest?

Many important characters in The Tempest appear in the first scene of the play. Sebastian is one of them. It already seems like he and Antonio are up to something, but the audience remains clueless until the play ends. Sebastian is the king’s brother who attempts a murder later on....

How Does the Utah Production of The Tempest Emphasize Miranda’s Fear of Caliban?

Caliban is not presented as the most pleasant character of The Tempest. While Prospero rules over him, Miranda is simply afraid of the islander. Indeed, he is portrayed as an angry, uneducated, and untidy man. The girl feels threatened by him and tries to stay away from him as much...

What Is the Theme of The Tempest?

Shakespeare’s The Tempest raises a few quite important and relevant literary themes. One of them is colonization. It was a popular topic back then, and its main issues are well represented in the play. However, power may be considered the central theme in The Tempest and goes throughout the whole...

Which Events from Acts 1 and 2 Would Most Likely Categorize The Tempest as a Tragedy?

Even though Shakespeare’s The Tempest is considered to be a comedy and maybe a romance, there are some elements of a tragedy. It is especially noticeable in the first two acts. Some of the events just don’t align with the standard genre categorization of this play. One of them is...

Which Opinion about Colonialism Is Best Supported by Events from The Tempest?

Shakespeare seems to have a very definite view on colonization which is reflected in The Tempest. All the issues that Prospero has with Caliban, the native to the island, prove the main idea of the play. Unfortunately, Caliban is treated like a handicapped monster by almost every character. There are... no longer supports Internet Explorer.

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The Tempest as a Post-Colonial Text: Exploring Power, Identity, and Oppression

Profile image of Injamamul Hoque

William Shakespeare's play "The Tempest" has been widely regarded as a post-colonial text due to its themes and portrayal of power dynamics, colonialism, and the effects of colonization on both colonizers and the colonized. This essay aims to delve into the post-colonial elements present in the play, examining how it challenges traditional narratives of colonialism and explores themes of power, identity, and oppression.

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International Journal of Linguistics, Literature and Translation

International Journal of Linguistics, Literature and Translation (IJLLT)

The twentieth century brought about a new form of understanding, producing and living art that has become a mean to react against the oppression that different groups suffered for centuries. Post-colonial criticism is an approach of analysis that questions racial identity and gender equity. This study investigates how Shakespeare's plays relate to the social codes and the more recent history of the reception of Shakespearian drama within decolonization movements. The Tempest by Shakespeare is defined as a postcolonial text because the colonised is represented in regarding cultural hybridity in which the Self and the Other enlace the colonial experience. Literature has naturally given a voice to these omitted groups and this play is thought to be an early post-colonial work by some scholars. Shakespeare had intended to criticise the European attack of the new lands to the West, and the theme of colonialism is outrightly presented in The Tempest. Post-colonial reading of the text examines the projection of the colonial experience back to Europe. Slavery, colonialism, and the power of changing other civilisations by the West are themes to make inferences.

the tempest essay


Prabha gour

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) is indubitably the best playwright of all time. He acquired an unique place in the world of literature. His plays earned international commendation and acceptance as the finest dramatist in the entire history of English literature. His play, The Tempest has been decoded differently by critics as a postcolonial text. In1611 when William Shakespeare wrote the play The Tempest, colonization was a recent concept in Britain. This paper is an attempt to inspect the postcolonial issues such as subjugation, dominance language, power and knowledge etc. and conjointly converse about the complex relationship that exist between the master and slave in The Tempest.

Talent Development & Excellence

Thamir R . S . Az-Zubaidy

William Shakespeare's The Tempest is both created in and influenced by an era when colonialism was coming into being. It begins with the arrival of a European coloniser, Prospero, to an island in the Mediterranean Sea where he imposes his colonial domination, norms and culture on its natives. In addition to exploring these issues, this paper examines questions of racism, slavery, suppression, and the role of language in consolidating the process of colonisation and maintaining the colonisercolonised politics. It also critiques the coloniser's involvement in the exchange of women as gifts for political gains as he does with his daughter Miranda. Moreover, while highlighting the discursive practices of othering the native, Caliban, the paper investigates his attempts to resist cultural and political European colonisation through Caliban's linguistic and political appropriation of Prospero's power.

Zahra Sadeghi

Colonization and imperialism are of those interesting critical conversation throughout the world and this study examines how English theater addressed, promoted, and at times challenged ideologies of colonization and notions of civility and civilization. The Tempest in regarded as a New World drama by many critics because of colonization and civilization debates presented on the London stage and depiction of the colonizers and the colonized to present and, at the same time, question those colonial debates. Shakespeare depicts the New World’s indigenous cultures in an ambiguous way to both present and question the ideologies of empire. This dramatization of the “other” helped sixteenth and seventeenth century audiences to recognize New World indigenous peoples as different rather than uncivilized and reevaluate what they have read or heard of these native peoples. Shakespeare presented the contemporary rhetoric through the medium of the theater and helped audience to visualize the process of conquest and colonization. He helped to civilize audiences about the reality of colonization, civility, and the New World. This theatrical medium makes audiences to challenge those established stereotypes of the New World natives and understand them as different, not inhuman or monster, and ignorant of European language and cultures, but no incapable of being civilized. Shakespeare, in dramatization of the New World, neither support nor oppose the process of colonization but he tries his best to show both sides of the issues and let the audiences to decide whether it is legitimate or not. This ambiguous representation of both colonizers and the colonized encourages the audience to examine colonial debates in as objective manner.

Md. A M I R Hossain

In this paper, my purpose is to focus on the underlying reading of The Tempest in the 21st century attempt with a view to revealing the colonizing attitudes of human psychology and embittered experiences of nations, ethnic groups and race. Shakespeare’s The Tempest during the late 20th century and early 21st century has been influenced by “post-colonialism” from the point of view of either Prospero or Caliban. Post-colonial criticism is dealt with Western colonialism of different nations, creed, and caste with the colonial relations of hegemony and submission, especially with regard to race and gender. Shakespeare has drawn upon the language of prayer and religion as a storehouse of emotion and symbol for which his audience and reader are readily responsive as a mode of intensified expression for the feelings and values. Shakespeare’s curses are the language of fury, hatred, helplessness, and despair wrought to its uttermost. The language of prayer is used in expressions of love, kindness, and gratitude, in outbursts of joy and wonder, and in countless eloquent pleadings for mercy, forgiveness, and compassion. The discourse of prayer, elegant and artful thought is an attempt to euphemize the 21st post-colonial domination of the island. Prospero’s ideas and thoughts extend the discourse of prayer into the life of audience. Caliban’s curses are regarded as an integral part to the dialectical structure and the discourse of prayer in the play for which they belong as cataplectic threats of Prospero. Ariel is being held to his side of a bargain at a time of desperate need; Ferdinand is being tested in self-control and in his respect for Miranda; Prospero’s enemies are subjected to corrective punishments designed to bring them through suffering to self-knowledge and a change of heart. Keywords: Ariel, Caliban, Ferdinand, Post-colonialism, Prospero, The Tempest

Deborah I K E O L U W A Jayeoba

This study seeks to explore and enunciate the characteristics of and pointers to the presence of colonialism which validates the events of colonialism in these three plays: William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Aime Casaire’s A Tempest and Esiaba Irobi’s Sycorax. William Shakespeare’s The Tempest exposes a Western view and political indifference to colonialism; neither invalidating nor justifying. Aime Casaire’s A Tempest and Esiaba Irobi’s Sycorax presents a writing back and questioning as it restructures the narrative of colonialism in its adaptation of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

Rituparna Paul

The objective is to present a critical study of discursive practices of ‘othering’. The post colonial critics have referred to Caliban as the ‘other’ and this makes ground for us to delve into the politics of unsaid, or things that have been omitted. Hence, the chief focus of a post-colonial investigation of The Tempest is through the character of Caliban, seen not as the ‘deformed slave’ of the dramatis personae but as a native of the island over whom Prospero has imposed a form of colonial domination.

Ramayana Lira

Taking on assumptions about oppression, identity and representation as they are developed in contemporary postcolonial theory, this study proposes the analysis of the 1993 theatrical production of William Shakespeare's The Tempest by The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC). It aims to discuss the role of Caliban's monstrosity in the production and how it pertains to issues such as power relations and spectacle. The main benefit of doing an analysis of a performance of a Shakespearean text seems to be the possibility of seeing the play's meaning as contingent, as a result of a series of elements (actor's body, visual clues, the theatrical institution, spectatorship) that release it from the burden of being considered as the work of a single, universal, non- contradictory mind that contemporary criticism has pointed out as the 'Shakespeare Myth'. I conclude that the 1993 RSC production presents a Tempest that, in many ways, reinforces traditional positions about th...

International Review of Humanities Studies

amir mohammad

The paper focuses on how the colonizers who in this play are Prospero and Miranda in particular, endeavor to inflict their own socio-cultural precept including their language to make the colonized fully unprotected in The Tempest as a colonial play, but eventually fail to fulfill this attempt. In addition, the high importance of learning the language of the colonizer by the colonized gets illuminated which finally contributes to Caliban so as to undermine the roots of the colonizer in the colony. This article fully evaluates affected literary works by The Tempest, the importance of transferring the colonizer's language to the colony, and the main colonizer and his manners and attitudes towards the colonized; it also brings forth postcolonial concepts including Mimicry, Orientalism, the double consciousness of the colonized and his unhomeliness. Furthermore, it features the dirge situation of mimic men who come across a disappointing dead end from both colonizers and the colonized. After all, this article reflects on the ever-presence of ambivalence and mimicry in colonial discourse and also the vital importance of violence as an inseparable part of the decolonization.

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Inside the Garrick, the Elite Men-Only London Club Rocked by Criticism

Founded in 1831, the opulent private club has long guarded its membership list closely. A leak this month caused a scandal.

The entrance to a grand sandstone building, approached from a cobbled street.

By Mark Landler

Reporting from London

On a side street in Covent Garden stands an imposing palazzo-style building, strangely out of place amid the burger joints and neon marquees of London’s theater district. It houses the Garrick Club, one of Britain’s oldest men’s clubs, and on any given weekday, a lunch table in its baronial dining room is one of the hottest tickets in town.

A visitor lucky enough to cadge an invitation from a member might end up in the company of a Supreme Court justice, the master of an Oxford college or the editor of a London newspaper. The odds are that person would be a man. Women are excluded from membership in the Garrick and permitted only as guests, a long-simmering source of tension that has recently erupted into a full-blown furor.

After The Guardian, a London newspaper, put a fresh spotlight on the Garrick’s men-only policy, naming and shaming some of its rarefied members from a leaked membership list, two senior British government officials resigned from the club: Richard Moore, the chief of the Secret Intelligence Service, and Simon Case , the cabinet secretary, who oversees nearly half a million public employees.

Only days earlier, under questioning at a Parliamentary hearing, Mr. Case defended his membership by saying he was trying to reform an “antediluvian” institution from within rather “than chuck rocks from the outside,” a line that provoked derisory laughs. Mr. Moore’s membership seemed at odds with his efforts to bring more racial and gender diversity to the British spy agency, known as MI6.

Now, the club’s 1,300 members are debating the future of the Garrick over lamb chops in the dining room, after-dinner drinks in the lounge under the main staircase and in a WhatsApp group, where they swap fretful messages about the latest developments. Some welcome the pressure to admit women as long overdue; others lament that doing so would forever change the character of the place.

“The Garrick Club has an absolute right to decide who its members are,” said Simon Jenkins, a columnist at The Guardian and a former editor of The Times of London who is a longtime member. “That said, it is indefensible for any social club these days not to have women as members.”

“Judi Dench, for God’s sake — why shouldn’t she be a member?” he added.

Or Jude Kelly, an award-winning former theater director. Ms. Kelly, who now runs the charity Women of the World, said that excluding women from membership in the Garrick deprived them of access to an elite social circle where professional opportunities inevitably flowed with the brandy.

“We’re in 2024,” Ms. Kelly said. “These are incredibly senior people. Many of them are espousing diversity and inclusion in their professional lives. Being on the inside for a long time makes you complicit.”

The Garrick Club is not the only private club in London that does not admit women: White’s, Boodle’s, the Beefsteak Club and the Savile Club are also men only. But what makes the Garrick unique is its star-studded membership list, which ranges across the worlds of politics, law, arts, theater and journalism.

Members, based on The Guardian’s leaked list, include the actors Benedict Cumberbatch, Brian Cox and Stephen Fry; Mark Knopfler, the guitarist of the rock band Dire Straits; Paul Smith, the fashion designer; the BBC correspondent John Simpson; Oliver Dowden, Britain’s deputy prime minister; and, yes, King Charles III (on an honorary basis).

The boldfaced names have lent the dispute extra piquancy, especially since many of them would seem the kind of bien-pensant progressives who would abhor any kind of discriminatory policy. Indeed, Mr. Cox, Mr. Fry and Mr. Simpson are among those who have come out publicly in favor of admitting women.

The last time the members voted on the question, in 2015, a slender majority — 50.5 percent — said they supported it. But the club’s bylaws require a two-thirds majority to change the policy on membership, and a new vote, if it were scheduled, would not be held until the summer. A club official declined to comment on the matter.

For all the misgivings that members have about not admitting women, some predict they would still fail to reach the two-thirds threshold. The dispute has, perhaps inevitably, turned bitter, pitting a handful of committed campaigners against a larger, older group, many of whom are fine with women as guests but are reluctant to rock a boat that has sailed grandly since 1831.

In New York City, private clubs like the Union League and the Century Association began admitting women in the 1980s, often under the pressure of legal judgments. But in London, where clubs like the Garrick are more zealous about being social rather than professional networking institutions, defenders argue that the case for preserving male-only membership is more justifiable.

These members say they go to the Garrick to drink wine, unwind and enjoy themselves. They crack jokes they wouldn’t make in mixed company. They are not allowed to conduct business; even pulling papers out of a briefcase is looked down upon.

Some dismissed it as a tempest in a teapot. Jonathan Sumption, a lawyer and former justice in the Supreme Court, said he supported the admission of women, but added that those who opposed it were entitled to their opinion.

“The Garrick Club is not a public body and the whole issue is too unimportant to make a fuss of,” Mr. Sumption said. “It is still a pretty good club.”

Mr. Jenkins, the columnist, agreed, suggesting that some of the news coverage had caricatured the Garrick as a vaguely sinister place where men gather to plot against women. Women, he said, were welcome at the communal table in the dining room, perhaps the club’s most hallowed place.

The only room off limits to women is the members’ lounge, known as Under the Stairs, where men gather after dinner. Yet, as Ms. Kelly and other women note, the most valuable relationships are often formed in such informal settings.

To that extent, the Garrick is different from White’s, an even more exclusive men’s club in St. James’s, where Queen Elizabeth II was the only woman ever invited as a guest. When President Donald J. Trump’s ambassador to Britain, Robert Wood Johnson IV, held lunches there with his senior staff, he could not invite his own political counselor because she was a woman. Female employees at the embassy complained to the State Department, and he was urged to end the practice.

But White’s and its old-line, Conservative-friendly brethren “tend to be high Tory places, where the question wouldn’t arise,” said Alan Rusbridger, a former editor of The Guardian, who resigned from the Garrick more than a decade ago.

“The Garrick membership is more a mix of actors, journalists and lawyers,” he said. “Thus, it’s a more pertinent question.”

Mark Landler is the London bureau chief of The Times, covering the United Kingdom, as well as American foreign policy in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. He has been a journalist for more than three decades. More about Mark Landler


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  1. The Tempest: A+ Student Essay

    On Shakespeare's troubled island, the wish to murder and steal is all too human. By setting up a false contrast between Caliban and the human characters, Shakespeare makes The Tempest ' s pessimism all the more devastating. At first, we are led to believe that there is nothing human about Caliban: the facts of his breeding, behavior, and ...

  2. The Tempest Study Guide

    The Tempest is different from many of Shakespeare's plays in that it does not derive from one clear source. The play does, however, draw on many of the motifs common to Shakespeare's works. These include the painful parting of a father with his daughter, jealousy and hatred between brothers, the usurpation of a legitimate ruler, the play-within-a-play, and the experiences of courtiers ...

  3. Analysis of William Shakespeare's The Tempest

    The Tempest is a composite work with elements derived from multiple sources. Montaigne's essay "On Cannibals," whose romantic primitivism is satirized in Gonzalo's plan for organizing society on Prospero's island in the second act, is a possible source.

  4. The Tempest: Mini Essays

    By the end of the scene, Miranda seems almost to have forgotten her father entirely, and she seems much older, in control of her destiny. By leaving her alone for perhaps the first time, Prospero has allowed Miranda to leave behind her childhood. The transition is not complete, however, and may not become complete, even by the end of the play.

  5. The Tempest: Study Guide

    The Tempest by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1610-1611, is a captivating play that blends elements of romance, magic, and political intrigue.Set on a remote island, the story follows Prospero, the exiled Duke of Milan, who uses his magical powers to create a tempest that shipwrecks his usurping brother, Antonio, and other nobles on the island.

  6. The Tempest Essays

    The Tempest. In William Shakespeare's final play, The Tempest, the playwright intertwines love and magic, creating one of play's the major themes. Prospero, the protagonist, uses magic to plan the events of this comedy. The first act of magic is the tempest...

  7. The Tempest Analysis

    The Tempest is filled with music, magic, and supernatural spirits, much of which appears during the betrothal masque conjured up by Prospero for Ferdinand and Miranda in IV.i. A masque is an ...

  8. Shakespeare's The Tempest essay, summary, quotes and character analysis

    Master Shakespeare's The Tempest using Absolute Shakespeare's Tempest essay, plot summary, quotes and characters study guides. Plot Summary: A quick plot review of The Tempest including every important action in the play. An ideal introduction before reading the original text. Commentary: Detailed description of each act with translations and ...

  9. The Tempest Essay at Absolute Shakespeare

    The Tempest essay features Samuel Taylor Coleridge's famous critique based on his legendary and influential Shakespeare notes and lectures. THERE is a sort of improbability with which we are shocked in dramatic representation, not less than in a narrative of real life. Consequently, there must be rules respecting it; and as rules are nothing ...

  10. The Tempest: Critical Introduction :: Internet Shakespeare Editions

    The Tempest challenges its readers and spectators to respond thoughtfully and feelingly to its complex representation of the world, to judge without sentimentality and to empathize with those we judge. One of its principal ways that the play does this is by means of metatheater, which is the element of the drama that draws attention to the ...

  11. Essays on The Tempest

    The Tempest is a timeless play by William Shakespeare that offers a myriad of themes, characters, and plot points to explore. Choosing the right essay topic is crucial to producing a compelling and insightful piece of writing.

  12. The Tempest Critical Essays

    The Tempest is filled with music, containing more songs than any other Shakespearean play. Write an essay analyzing the function of the songs in the play in relation to theme, dramatic action ...

  13. A Modern Perspective: The Tempest

    In this essay, Montaigne ("whose supple mind," writes Ronald Wright, "exemplifies Western civilization at its best" 6) argues in effect that American "savages" are in many ways more moral, more humane people than so-called civilized Europeans. As with so much of The Tempest, Caliban may be seen as representing two quite different ...

  14. The Tempest: Suggested Essay Topics

    Suggested Essay Topics. Previous Next. 1. Discuss one or more of the play's comic scenes involving Trinculo, Stephano, and Caliban. How do these scenes parallel and parody the main action of the play? Pay particular attention to Trinculo's speech about Caliban in Act II, scene ii, lines 18-38. This is one of the longest speeches in the play.

  15. Forgiveness and Reconciliation in Shakespeare's The Tempest

    Forgiveness and Reconciliation in The Tempest Many scholars argue that, along with Shakespeare's other late romances, The Tempest is a play about reconciliation, forgiveness, and faith in future generations to seal such reconciliation. However, while it is clear that the theme of forgiveness is at the heart of the drama, what is up for debate is to what extent the author realizes this forgiveness.

  16. The Tempest by William Shakespeare Plot Summary

    A raging storm at sea threatens a ship bearing Alonso, King of Naples, and his court on their voyage home from the wedding of Alonso's daughter in Tunisia. Frustrated and afraid, the courtiers and the ship's crew exchange insults as the ship goes down. From a nearby island, Prospero, the former Duke of Milan, and his daughter Miranda watch the ...

  17. The Tempest Essay Topics: Writing Guide And Key Tips

    Step 3: Gather the Evidence Base and Build Arguments. In the main part, you will do everything to prove your position. Argument paragraphs constitute the main part of your essay. When writing the main part, follow three basic rules: Start with a topic sentence. Pick strong arguments to prove your point.

  18. The Tempest Essay Questions

    The Tempest Essay Questions. 1. To what extent can Prospero can be considered the protagonist of the play? Many would agree that Prospero is the protagonist of the play, given that he starts out as a sympathetic character who has been robbed of his station and betrayed by his brother.

  19. Power Theme in The Tempest

    After Prospero's merciful refusal to seek revenge, Alonso and Prospero quickly come to an understanding and unite their once warring cities through the marriage of their children. The Tempest suggests that compromise and compassion are more effective political tools than violence, imprisonment, or even magic.

  20. The Tempest Essay Topics & Examples

    Shakespeare's The Tempest in the Savage Rose Theater. The Epic of Gilgamesh and The Tempest: Being "Civilized" or "Uncivilized". Shakespeare's "The Tempest" - Viewing and Reflection. Ahab from Moby Dick and Prospero from the Tempest. The Phaedrus and The Tempest: Compare & Contrast.

  21. The Tempest as a Post-Colonial Text: Exploring Power, Identity, and

    William Shakespeare's The Tempest exposes a Western view and political indifference to colonialism; neither invalidating nor justifying. Aime Casaire's A Tempest and Esiaba Irobi's Sycorax presents a writing back and questioning as it restructures the narrative of colonialism in its adaptation of William Shakespeare's The Tempest.

  22. Literary Context Essay: Shakespeare's Sources for The Tempest

    Of the many sources that exerted an influence on The Tempest, the most significant is Michel de Montaigne's "Of the Cannibals," which Shakespeare would have read in John Florio's English translation from 1603. Montaigne (1533-1593) was a French statesman and philosopher whose essays influenced European literature and philosophy from ...

  23. The Tempest Critical Lens Essay

    The Tempest Critical Lens Essay. 1134 Words5 Pages. You have probably felt wrongfully accused once in your lifetime. Punished without reason, slapped across the wrist, put into a timeout; all because of a simple misunderstanding. Such silent oppression is worse than vindicated punishment, as the equilibrium of right in accordance to wrong is ...

  24. The Tempest: Themes

    The Illusion of Justice. The Tempest tells a fairly straightforward story involving an unjust act, the usurpation of Prospero's throne by his brother, and Prospero's quest to re-establish justice by restoring himself to power. However, the idea of justice that the play works toward seems highly subjective, since this idea represents the view of one character who controls the fate of all ...

  25. Inside the Garrick, the Men-Only London Club Rocked by Criticism

    March 27, 2024. On a side street in Covent Garden stands an imposing palazzo-style building, strangely out of place amid the burger joints and neon marquees of London's theater district. It ...