Tempest Presentation

- Shakespeare
The Tempest is Shakespeare’s last play.
It is a pastoral romance (which mixes
pastoral poems with a fictional narrative in
prose) like The Winter’s Tale.
But its opposition of court and country is
affected by Shakespeare’s adherence to the
unity of place. We never see the courts of
Milan and Naples. Rather they come to the
island in the persons of courtiers (Alonso,
Antonio, Sebastian and others).
Prospero – his dukedom was usurped by his
brother Antonio twelve years ago in Milan.
By his magic art he conjures up the storm and
bring the courtiers to the island in order to
his usurping brother Antonio into repentance.
Miranda – his daughter. Married to Ferdinand
who is a son to Alonso, the king of Naples.
Prospero plans this marriage for the purpose
of bringing a harmony between Milan and
Ariel - an airy spirit, representing fire and air,
concord and music, loyal service.
 Caliban – a savage and deformed slave, of the
earth, associated with discord, drunkenness
and rebellion.
However he has a wonderful attunement to
the natural environment: he knows every
corner, every species of the island.
Alonso – King of Naples, Ferdinand’s father
Antonio – Prospero’s usurping brother,
planning to usurp Alonso’s throne with
Sebastian (Alonso’s brother)
Stephano – a drunken butler, planning to
kill Prospero to take over the island with
Trinculo (a jester) and Caliban.
The Tempest may be Shakespeare’s most
tightly structured play.
Composed of nine separate scenes, the play
begins with a shipwreck and ends with the
restoration of the ship that had seemed
earlier to split.
Scenes 2 and 8 involve Prospero, Miranda and
Scenes 3 and 7 develop Antonio and Sebastian’s
plan to kill Alonso.
Scenes 4 and 6 display the drunken antics of
Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo, and their plot to
kill Prospero and take over the island.
The central scene showcases Ferdinand and
Miranda’s betrothal
* Prospero’s overthrow in Milan twelve years
earlier is nearly repeated.
(first in Antonio and Sebastian’s plot to
murder Alonso, and second in Caliban,
Stephano and Trinculo’s plan to assassinate
Prospero’s ultimate goals, the restoration of
his rightful place and a proper marriage for
his daughter, are celebrated in the masque
of goddesses he stages for Ferdinand and
Miranda in 4.1.
Alonso, Sebastian and Antonio are stunned by
a disappearing banquet and Ariel’s sudden
appearance as a harpy in 3.3.
Harpy is a mythical predatory bird with a
woman’s head, talons for hands and the body
of a vulture, associated with divine retribution.
More than a simple setting, the island takes
on a life of its own –
Caliban creates its mythic resonances with his
evocations of exotic flora and fauna.
His perspective is shaped by physical
responses to night and day, moon and starts,
emptiness and fullness, silence and music.
To Gonzalo it has possibilities as a
golden-age plantation.
To Sebastian and Antonio it evokes
travellers’ tales of unicorns and the
To Prospero it is a temporary if
unwanted haven from the cares of
To the audience it is the stuff that
dreams are made on, a imaginative
world of words and music.
 By
yoking tragic themes and
comic resolutions, realistic
characterizations and exotic tales,
the romances highlights the
paradoxes of human experience.
Stage spectacle was the essence of the
Jacobean court masque, a form
embedded in The Tempest not just in
the musical interlude but in other scenes
as well.
 Masques were the original multimedia
event, requiring ‘painting, architecture,
design, mechanics, lighting, music of
both composer and performer, acting,
choreography, and dancing acrobatic
and formal.’
Staged at great expense for special court
occasions – wedding, birthdays, investitures
– masques treated the audience to a vision
of court ladies and gentlemen dressed in
lavish costumes within spectacular moving
Prospero’s masque continues Ben Jonson’s
hymeneal theme, his insistence on
continence. His concern of his daughter’s
chastity is linked to his hopes for her
fruitful marriage and the legitimacy of his
There may be more relevance in Tudor
and Stuart England’s incipient empire.
 Caliban
 Africa and Ireland
The theme of repentance, reconciliation,
Tempest versus Music
Storm or tempest – a symbol of turmoil.
During the tempest in the opening scene, the
normal social order is out of joint: the
boatswain commands the courtiers.
Music – a symbol of healing , harmonizing
As Allardyce Nicoll puts it, the use of this
framing device is closely associated with the
architectural shape of the Elizabethan
playhouse, which is suitable for ‘the entire
fabric of the romance drama’, where deities
and creatures of the folk imagination are
mixed with what purports to be the real, or
the purportedly real includes the fantastic’.
(Nicoll 51)
The events that occur on the island are
planned by Prospero to restore his
The Tempest itself is a sort of play-withina-play presented by Prospero.
Prospero functions as a playwright and a
director in that he has the power to control
the actions of the other dramatic personae
through his magic power. As a result his
island is the stage and the rest of the
characters are actors.
The masque presented by Prospero’s pageant
before Ferdinand and Miranda forms another
frame, so that it becomes a play-within-aplay within a play.
Robert J. Nelson uses the term ‘triple
convolution’ (Nelson 30) to describe the
structure of this play.
The fact that his role as a dramatist is the widest frame in the
play is revealed in the epilogue where Prospero addresses the
theatre audience:
Now my charms are all o’erthrown,
And what strength I have’s mine own,
Which is most faint: now, ‘tis true,
I must be here confin’d by you,
Or sent to Naples. Let me not,
Since I have my dukedom got,
And pardon’d the deceiver, dwell
In this bare island by your spell;
But release me from my bands
With the help of your good hands [.] (1-10)
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