The Tempest

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The Tempest Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on William Shakespeare's The Tempest. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of William Shakespeare

Shakespeare's father was a glove-maker, and Shakespeare received no more than a grammar school education. He married Anne Hathaway in 1582, but left his family behind around 1590 and moved to London, where he became an actor and playwright. He was an immediate success: Shakespeare soon became the most popular playwright of the day as well as a part-owner of the Globe Theater. His theater troupe was adopted by King James as the King's Men in 1603. Shakespeare retired as a rich and prominent man to Stratford-upon-Avon in 1613, and died three years later.
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Other Books Related to The Tempest

The Tempest is different from many of Shakespeare's plays in that it does not derive from one clear source. The play does, however, draw on many of the motifs common to Shakespeare's works. These include the painful parting of a father with his daughter, jealousy and hatred between brothers, the usurpation of a legitimate ruler, the play-within-a-play, and the experiences of courtiers transplanted to a new environment. It is commonly classified with Pericles, The Winter's Tale, and Cymbeline in a small group of plays called "romances." These plays contain elements of comedy and, to a lesser extent, tragedy, but do not wholly belong to either category. Common elements in Shakespearean romances include experiences of loss and recovery, as well as imaginative realms in which magic can play an important role.
Key Facts about The Tempest
  • Full Title: The Tempest
  • When Written: 1610-1611
  • Where Written: England
  • When Published: 1623
  • Literary Period: The Renaissance (1500-1660)
  • Genre: Romance
  • Setting: An unnamed island in the Mediterranean Sea
  • Climax: Ariel appears as a harpy before Antonio, Alonso, and Sebastian and condemns them for stealing Prospero's kingdom

Extra Credit for The Tempest

Shakespeare or Not? There are some who believe Shakespeare wasn't educated enough to write the plays attributed to him. The most common anti-Shakespeare theory is that Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford, wrote the plays and used Shakespeare as a front man because aristocrats were not supposed to write plays. Yet the evidence supporting Shakespeare's authorship far outweighs any evidence against. So until further notice, Shakespeare is still the most influential writer in the English language.