Shakespeare Update: The Tempest Down


A couple of weeks ago, I marked Shakespeare’s 448th birthday. I decided then to read by his 450th birth anniversary all his plays and poetry—easy to fit in over that time. I’ve decided I’ll keep track of my progress on this site, and my first report is that I finished “The Tempest,” which was “Hailed as a stunning climax to the career of England’s favorite dramatist… Some believe that Prospero’s final speeches signify Shakespeare’s personal adieu from the stage.”

My intention is not to rehash here the stories, but to note briefly my personal reaction to them: In this case, “The Tempest” is simple, straightforward story in spite of protagonist Prospero’s magic powers. No modern twists and turns. For me, Ambition, Greed balanced by Forgiveness, Reconciliation capture the play’s message. The first two attributes still seem to be very much in vogue in the modern character; the latter two continue still in short supply, although greatly needed for a healed world.

Prospero’s last few lines in the Epilogue well carried the message:

And my ending is despair,
Unless I be relieved by prayer,
Which pierces so that it assaults
Mercy itself and frees all faults.
As you from crimes would pardon’d be,
Let your indulgence set me free.

One play down, a bunch still to go and only 102 weeks left!

In case anyone’s interested, other quotes that interested me (for varied reasons) as I read the play this time around:

Miranda: “Your tale, sir, would cure deafness.”

Miranda: “Good wombs have borne bad sons.”

Prospero: “…With colors fairer painted their foul ends.”

Prospero: “O! a cherubim thou wast, that did preserve me! Thou didst smile, infused with a fortitude from heaven…which raised in me an undergoing stomach, to bear up against what should ensure.”

Antonio: “What impossible matter will he make easy next?”

Gonzalo: “…The truth you speak doth lack some gentleness, and time to speak it in; you rub the sore, when you should bring the plaster.”

Alonso speaking of sleep: “I wish mine eyes would, with themselves, shut up my thoughts….”

Sebastian speaking of sleep: “It seldom visits sorrow; when it doth, it is a comforter.”

Sebastian responding to Antonio’s suggestion that Sebastian kill his own brother for the throne: “What, are thou waking?”

Antonio: “…And, by that, destined to perform an act, whereof what’s past is prologue; what to come, in yours and my discharge.”

Miranda: “How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world that hath such people in ‘t.”

Prospero: “There, sir, stop; Let us not burden our remembrances with a heaviness that’s gone.

And with that prompting, I will stop. Next up: “Two Gentlemen of Verona.”

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