The Tempest has long dazzled readers and audiences with its intricate blend of magic, music, humour, intrigue and tenderness, its vibrant but ambiguous central characters. As Virginia and Alden Vaughan show, in their wide-ranging new edition of this established favourite, such antithetical extremes exemplify the play?s endlessly arguable nature, its appeal to diverse eras and cultures. The Vaughans situate The Tempest at the centre of changing cultural attitudes towards colonialism, power politics and patriarchal hierarchies, and demonstrate how the play both shaped and reflected those changing attitudes. Informed by the concerns of a post-colonial international community, their edition emphasizes the play's world-wide cultural appropriation, and includes an extensive discussion of the play's after-life as well as an appendix of selected appropriations. The interdisciplinary editorial approach contributes a distinctively blended cultural and historical focus. ?The Vaughans have provided a valuable new edition of the play, one whose expanded contextualisation, especially, will contribute to The Tempest?s lively and varied afterlife both within and beyond the classroom.? Barbara Fuchs, University of Washington, Seattle, Shakespeare Quarterly
Generally agreed to be Shakespeare's last play, THE TEMPEST was most likely written in 1610. Twelve years before the action begins, Prospero--Duke of Milan--and his daughter, Miranda, were stranded by Prospero's brother, Antonio, on a remote and idyllic island where Miranda has grown up happily among the beasts and flowers, never seeing any man but her father. Many years later, Prospero uses his powers and the help of Ariel, the sprite, to effect a shipwreck--hence the play's title--that brings Antonio to the island, along with the king of Naples and his son, Ferdinand, who promptly falls in love with Miranda. Their love story, juxtaposed with Prospero's revenge on his brother and his final act of mercy, form the basis of a simple plot. A combination of tragedy and romantic comedy, the play includes a happy ending that, finally, leans toward the latter. Unlike Shakespeare's other plays, THE TEMPEST is full of magic and exoticism and what we now think of as special effects, using evocative music and extravagant imagery to create a mood of enchantment that, nonetheless, confronts serious questions about reality and illusion. Some interpretations of the play see Prospero--who, in his dazzling last speech, renounces his magic powers--as the aging Shakespeare bidding farewell to the theater. THE TEMPEST is also interesting because its events take place in a 24-hour period. And it is, of course, the source of a famous phrase: when the sheltered Miranda first lays eyes on Ferdinand, she exclaims, "Oh brave new world, that has such people in it!"
- Drama, Literary Criticism
- Drama, Shakespeare
- August 1, 1999
- August 1, 1999
- Virginia Mason Vaughan, William Shakespeare, Alden T. Vaughan