Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Tempest

The Tempest by William Shakespeare (1610)

Although I'm technically finished reading plays for my Bardathon Challenge, I'll be seeing a performance of The Tempest in December so I decided to read it ahead of time. In this play, the magician Prospero has been living in exile on a remote island with his daughter Miranda. He conjures a storm which brings to the island several people who had conspired together to oust Prospero. His complicated manipulations result in the marriage of Miranda to the son of the King of Naples, and Prospero's own restoration as the Duke of Milan.

My experience reading this was pretty meh. I enjoyed some of the wordplay and humor, such as when a ship was described as being "as leaky as an unstanched wench." When Trinculo notices the monster caliban he remarks: "What have we here, a man or a fish? Dead or alive? A fish, he smells like a fish - a very ancient and fishlike smell, a kind of not-of-the-newest poor-John. A strange fish." Later, that same character says, again to Caliban, "Monster, I do smell all horse piss, at which my nose is in great indignation." So that was all amusing.

Again I read the Folger edition, as I've been reading with the other plays. This time I noticed that some unfamiliar words and phrases weren't explained, though "maze" was defined, which seemed a bit odd. I also had a hard time keeping track of the characters since so many of them seemed interchangeable. And I had a tough time understanding what was happening near the middle, but when all was said and done I think I get the idea.

At this point I sort of think if you've read one Shakespeare play, you've read them all so I probably won't be making a point to read any more. I'm looking forward to this play though - the island setting, storm, shipwreck, monster, and various spirits should lend themselves to a more visual experience.

No comments: