“The Tempest,” from The Oxford Shakespeare: The Complete Works, by W. Shakespeare

As much as I’ve heard about this particular play, I’m not sure how I feel about it myself. Maybe it’s just been a weird week and I’m not in the best place to really absorb it, but I guess it didn’t really intrigue me as much as I thought it would.

As The Tempest features magic (and I wondered how the usurped-noble, Prospero, was able to get such magic in the first place, though some of the books left with him in his banishment on a raft were helpful), I guess I expected more. Also, there were so many different characters with similar names that I just gave up after a bit.

Frankly, I think I’m getting a bit ill and that’s why I just couldn’t get into it, so take this with a grain of salt.

The tempest mentioned in the title is the inciting action of the play. A ship carrying Alonso, the King of Naples, and Antonio, the Duke of Milan, on their way from the wedding of the king’s daughter to the Prince of Tunis is cast about and the party is shipwrecked on an island. The inhabitants of the island are Prospero, the former Duke of Milan (and one who helped create the tempest), his daughter Miranda, Ariel, a spirit and helper to Prospero’s magic, and Caliban, the son of the witch that used to live on the island and now is essentially Prospero’s servant (though slave would be just as accurate, I imagine). Prospero watches the shipwrecked party and uses Ariel to play tricks on the people stumbling about on different beaches where the storm sent them. One feared lost is Ferdinand, Alonso’s son and heir, and he’s brought out from the rest to meet Miranda, where the two will obviously fall in love because that’s the point of the meeting. Miranda hasn’t seen a male other than Prospero and Caliban in 12 years, so that’s not going to be too hard.

I admit, that might be part of the reason I’m not terribly pleased with this play. Miranda is a mix of naive and playful, always dutiful to her father. I find it kind of interesting how much she already knows about sex considering how sheltered she’s been, though it’s revealed early that at one or two points, an angry Caliban wanted to rape and impregnate her. As she’s the only woman on the island, he figured if he got her pregnant, there would be other Calibans to take the island back from Prospero. Why he’s not a smear on the ground long before this day, I don’t know, unless there’s a bit of pity on Prospero’s part because he essentially took the island from Caliban after he’d shown Prospero all the secrets the island held, and has been held as a servant/slave ever since.

On the other hand, Caliban is foolish in a lot of regards, easily swayed, and tends to be petty and dull most of the time…rather like the nobles that are easily provoked into plotting against each other or getting drunk on the beaches.

Maybe some day I’ll give this one another shot. I think some of the characterization, especially Miranda’s, just wasn’t what I wanted to read about right now.

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