“Something Rich and Strange”: Shakespeare’s "The Tempest"
by Dr. Jayson Grieser
A Hamlet who forgives? A Lear who regains his kingdom? After writing the greatest tragedies the world has ever seen, Shakespeare, at the end of his career, turned to something surprising, something derided by contemporary Philip Sidney as “mongrel,” not mentioned by Aristotle, and rejected by Cicero who said, “the comic is abhorrent in tragedy and the tragic abhorrent in comedy.” Shakespeare took up a Renaissance invention, the tragicomedy, or what we now call a romance.
Shakespeare’s final plays, written in consecutive years beginning in 1608, comprise Pericles, Cymbeline, The Winter’s Tale, and The Tempest. These adventure tales include shipwrecks and wonder and unlikely reunions; they sparkle with father-daughter relationships, providence, and forgiveness. In The Tempest, Prospero, the Duke of Milan, having neglected his duties for his books, loses his dukedom to his “false brother,” who then allies with Alonzo of Naples. These usurpers cast …
Read More · 4 min read · Oct 14 2015