The Connell Guide To Shakespeare's The Tempest
In the 400 years since The Tempest was first staged, millions of words have been written about it. Critics, directors and actors have interpreted it in widely different ways and developed theories ranging from the more-or-less plausible to the eccentric and the completely outlandish. It is undoubtedly one of Shakespeare's greatest plays, and as well as its bewitching music, its hallucinatory quality and its enchanted island setting, it contains some of Shakespeare's most beautiful poetry and most famous lines. From Caliban's "The isle is full of noises" to Prospero's "We are such stuff/As dreams are made on", The Tempest haunts our collective imagination. But what is it actually about? Is it about British colonialism, as so many modern critics, especially modern American critics, firmly maintain? Is it a Christian play? Or is it, as Sir Peter Hall believes, the "most blasphemous play Shakespeare wrote", about a "man on an island who's allowed to play God and who doesn't just dabble in witchcraft but actually performs it"? Is it an anti-feminist play, as some feminist critics believe? Or does it, on the contrary present a softer, more feminised view of the world than his earlier works? And what does The Tempest, the last play Shakespeare wrote on his own, tell us about his view of art, and of the human condition? This short guide, drawing on the most interesting and arresting criticisms of the play, explains the issues which have perplexed and divided scholars through the ages, and offers a bold, incisive and authoritative view of its own.