Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Tempest Read-Along Post 2.

On August 16, I posted my thoughts on the first two acts of William Shakespeare's The Tempest. You can find them here.

I will sadly say that I set the play aside for a bit as I went on a reading craze and when it came time to go back to it, I had to reread what I had finished to refresh my memory. Thankfully the play was easy to fly through and I finished the entire play the other night.

As the first Shakespeare play that I was reading by myself (all the others I have read for this project were rereads of plays I had read in high school and college), I was surprised at how easy it was for me to decipher things. Perhaps it was because of my previous experiences with Shakespeare as a writer, or I am just getting better at understanding more complicated language, but I did not struggle too badly.

With all of that being said, I absolutely adored the play and it is probably one of my favorites (behind Much Ado about Nothing and Macbeth). The character of Ariel, in particular, I developed quite a fondness for, and I was loving the amount of action and intrigue in the play.

I also really loved the relationship that developed between Miranda and Ferdinand. Even though they only knew each other for a few hoursish, they seemed to have a more realistic relationship than say...Romeo and Juliet. Anyway, here is a passage I want to talk about:

'If you'll sit down,
I'll bear your logs the while. Pray, give me that;
I'll carry it to the pile.

No, precious creature;
I had rather crack my sinews, break my back,
Than you should such dishonor undergo
While I sit lazy by,'" (III.i.22-28).

I love this exchange. It is full of the courtesy and chivalry that should be evident in the beginning stages of love, don't you think?

But Ariel...what an interesting character. Trapped until Prospero freed him, he is not a servant to Prospero and spends most of the play doing his bidding. I could feel the unfairness of Ariel's situation. Prospero and Miranda are abandoned on the island and while Prospero has power, there is nothing he can do to free them. Ariel is finally free and probably believed that a man had finally come to free him, but rather than be granted the freedom that Prospero also desires, he is no better than a slave. It is an interesting contradiction and I was happy when Ariel was freed at the end.

Overall, it was a play I rather enjoyed. It was a little darker than his comedies, and certainly wasn't a tragedy. It was a play that I could imagine was received in awe, given the effects needed to carry out Prospero's magic. It is definitely a play I would love to see live and learn more about.

If you participated, leave your thoughts, or a link to your site so I can come and visit!


  1. This was my first play. I actually read the play all in one sitting and I loved it. Of course I had to use one of the "No Fear" books, but I was able to follow and it helped just to check to make sure I was getting it. I liked the characters and how it ended. I just had a hard time grasping how easy it seemed for Miranda to just accept everyone and fall in love. Other than that-it was good. Thanks for getting me to read things I normally wouldn't have. Love, Mom

  2. I've always been fascinated by this play. For the last couple of decades, critics have read The Tempest as an exploration of themes of slavery and colonialism (Ariel's deferred freedom and the enslavement and island-theft of Caliban) and considering those issues does add a new layer to my reading. But I also just love the playfulness of the spirits and the sweetness of Miranda. If you ever get a chance to see it live, I definitely recommend it! It's a difficult play to stage (what with the shipwrecks, disappearing feasts and cavorting spirits) but when it's done right it's absolutely magical!

  3. Oh shoot! I finished Tempest a week ago, but kept putting off writing a post, and now the end of August has sneaked up on me. I'm not sure when I'll have time to get something up, hopefully in the next day or two.

  4. Better late than never, my post is up now.

  5. Again, I'm sorry for not reading it, too much stuff caught up with me.
    But the passage you quoted from is one of my favorites from the play. I love ferdinand and miranda's relationship, and you're right it is more realistic. I think I read 'The Taming of the Shrew' before i read this play, so after reading all the sexist-y stuff in there, seeing this was like O_O I just really liked it :)
    keep up the good work sis!