In The Tempest, long considered one of Shakespeare’s most lyrical plays, Prospero, a sorcerer, and his daughter, Miranda, have been stranded on an enchanted island for twelve years. When a shipwreck—caused by the eponymous tempest—brings enemies to the island, the stage is set for comedy, romance, and reconciliation. The Tempest embodies both seemingly timeless romance and the historically specific moment in which Europe began to explore and conquer the New World. Its poetic beauty, complexity of thought, range of characters—from the spirit Ariel and the monster Caliban to the beautiful Miranda and her prince Ferdinand—and exploration of difficult questions that still haunt us today make this play wonderfully compelling.
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Prospero’s use of magic in The Tempest is a source of apparently endless critical speculation. It has been defined as benign and redemptive, its violence excused or legitimated. At the opposite end of the critical spectrum it has been defined as witchcraft and read as a metaphor for colonial oppression…By whatever means The Tempest is approached, magic is the defining factor in the relationship between Prospero and Caliban.”
Times Literary Supplement