The Tempest (Paperback)
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The Tempest is a play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1610-11, and thought by many critics to be the last play that Shakespeare wrote alone. It is set on a remote island, where the sorcerer Prospero, rightful Duke of Milan, plots to restore his daughter Miranda to her rightful place using illusion and skillful manipulation. He conjures up a storm, the eponymous tempest, to cause his usurping brother Antonio and the complicit King Alonso of Naples to believe they are shipwrecked and marooned on the island. There, his machinations bring about the revelation of Antonio's lowly nature, the redemption of the King, and the marriage of Miranda to Alonso's son, Ferdinand. There is no obvious single source for the plot of The Tempest, but researchers have seen parallels in Erasmus's Naufragium, Peter Martyr's De orbe novo, and eyewitness reports by William Strachey and Sylvester Jordain of the real-life shipwreck of the Sea Venture on the islands of Bermuda, and the subsequent conflict between Sir Thomas Gates and Sir George Somers. In addition, one of Gonzalo's speeches is derived from Montaigne's essay Of the Canibales, and much of Prospero's renunciative speech echoes a speech by Medea in Ovid's poem Metamorphoses. The masque in Act 4 may have been a later addition, possibly in honour of the wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Frederick V in 1613. The play was first published in the First Folio of 1623. The story draws heavily on the tradition of the romance and it was influenced by tragicomedy, the courtly masque and perhaps the commedia dell'arte. It differs from Shakespeare's other plays in its observation of a stricter, more organised neoclassical style. Critics see The Tempest as explicitly concerned with its own nature as a play, frequently drawing links between Prospero's "art" and theatrical illusion, and early critics saw Prospero as a representation of Shakespeare, and his renunciation of magic as signalling Shakespeare's farewell to the stage. The play portrays Prospero as a rational, and not an occultist, magician by providing a contrast to him in Sycorax: her magic is frequently described as destructive and terrible, where Prospero's is said to be wondrous and beautiful. Beginning in about 1950, with the publication of Psychology of Colonization by Octave Mannoni, The Tempest was viewed more and more through the lens of postcolonial theory-exemplified in adaptations like Aim C saire's Une Temp te set in Haiti-and there is even a scholarly journal on post-colonial criticism named after Caliban. The magician, Prospero, rightful Duke of Milan, and his daughter, Miranda, have been stranded for twelve years on an island after Prospero's jealous brother Antonio (aided by Alonso, the King of Naples) deposed him and set him adrift with the 3-year-old Miranda. Gonzalo, Alonso's counsellor, had secretly supplied their boat with some food, fresh water, "rich garments, linens, stuffs and necessaries", and "volumes" (books) that Prospero prizes. Possessing magic powers due to his great learning, Prospero is served by a spirit, Ariel, whom Prospero had rescued from a tree in which he had been trapped by the cruel witch, Sycorax, after he had refused to obey her. Prospero maintains Ariel's loyalty by repeatedly promising to release the "airy spirit" from servitude. Sycorax had been exiled from Algiers to the island for wreaking havoc with her magic, and had died before Prospero's arrival and without releasing Ariel. Sycorax's son, Caliban, a deformed monster and the only non-spiritual inhabitant before the arrival of Prospero, was initially adopted and raised by him. He taught Prospero how to survive on the island, while Prospero and Miranda taught Caliban religion and their own language. In slavery, Caliban has come to view Prospero as a usurper and has grown to resent him and his daughter. Prospero and Miranda in turn view Caliban with disappointment, contempt and disgust.