Tempest # Context and Background # Shakespeare’s World # Shakespeare’s life spanned both Elizabethan and Jacobean England, a dynamic period of change, expansion, exploration and enlightenment, yet his view of the world (Weltanshaung) was quite different from ours. Though Copernicus had died 21 years before Shakespeare’s birth and he was born in the same year as Galileo, his world view was still geocentric rather than heliocentric; that is most people still believed that the earth was the centre of the world with the sun and planets revolving around it.
Tempest - # Techniques in The Tempest # The Tempest observes the Aristotelian code of unity of time and place. The action takes place on one island and within a time frame of the play; from about 2:00 pm to 5:00pm. Stage Props # Shakespeare’s stage props were primitive and minimalistic, forcing him to rely on word pictures or images to assist the audience to visualise his scenes. As such his stage is a hotter medium than television or film which does almost everything for its audience.
Tempest # The Tempest can be seen as an allegorical play on colonialism and its effect on both coloniser - Prospero - a guardian figure - coloniser/settler who flees his homeland to conquer the new primitive world to lord over its captive subjects, dilusionally fulfilling the “white man’s burden to civilise the world. Caliban, the indigenous savage slave, represents the ungrateful recipient of paternalistic imperialism, sometimes portrayed as the “noble savage”.
Tempest Themes # Concerns, Issues, Values, Themes # Betrayal: # Perhaps the most recurring theme in Shakespeare’s plays is that of a betrayal of trust. It is present in all his tragedies and most of his comedies. Here Prospero is marooned on an island after having his throne usurped in Milan and Alonso is threatened by an abortive coup by Stephano, Trincolo and Caliban. In contrast to other plays, here we have Prospero offer forgiveness and instead of a tragedy we end up with a comedy where everyone lives happily ever after.