The Tempest


William Shakespeare

Teachers and parents! Our Teacher Edition on The Tempest makes teaching easy.

The Tempest: Style 1 key example

Read our modern English translation.
Act 1, scene 2
Explanation and Analysis:

The Tempest conforms to many traditional aspects of the Shakespearean style. Most of the play appears in iambic pentameter (with a few variations). Low-status or comic characters often speak in prose, whereas higher-status ones mostly speak in verse. More sophisticated, beautiful language signifies higher status. This play subverted some conventions, however, as Caliban flouts this rule in order to demonstrate his humanity. He speaks some of the most beautiful lines in the play. In Act 1, Scene 2, he describes the way Prospero treated him before he tried to rape Miranda:  

And then I loved thee,
And showed thee all the qualities o' th' isle,
The fresh springs, brine pits, barren place and fertile.

Allowing Caliban to speak such beautiful lines might be Shakespeare's way of commenting on the capacity of people who are perceived as "monstrous" or "backward" by the western world. It contributes to the thesis that The Tempest offers an implicit critique of the way Europeans treated natives of other countries, especially in the context of colonialism.

The Tempest also has a clear five-act structure with a beginning, middle, and end. This was common in Elizabethan theater and gives an otherwise fantastical play a clear, tangible structure. Act 1 introduces the setting, characters, and conflict, Act 2 develops the conflict, Act 3 contains the climax, Act 4 is the falling action, and Act 5 presents a resolution.