I‘m tempted to just let the title be my review, but if I want to count this review towards my total, it has to be at least 250 words.
I haven’t read this play in ten years. I’ve never seen it performed. It’s never been my favorite, even though I’ve read it several times now. The best parts of it involve several of Shakespeare’s most classic lines:
“Hell is empty and all the devils are here.”
“We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.”
“What’s past is prologue.”
“How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in’t!”
“Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange”
“I’ll break my staff, bury it certain fathoms in the earth, and deeper than did ever plummet sound, I’ll drown my book!”
“Temperance is a delicate wench.”
All right maybe that last one is just one of my favorites.
And also every scene with Caliban, Stephano, and Trinculo is gold. I never appreciated when I read this in high school how funny those scenes were, even though they are laden with puns that went over my head because I don’t live in Jacobean England.
Biggest takeaway here, as stated in the opening sentence, is that Prospero sucks, and Caliban deserved better. So did Ariel and Miranda. Prospero is an interfering, sanctimonious (THE LECTURING ABOUT THE VIRGINITY!), patriarchal, controlling, manipulative, cruel, gaslighting monster. Part of the reason this play will never be my favorite is that I don’t entirely think Shakespeare wanted us to criticize Prospero or feel sympathy for Caliban. I think he wrote it straight, and its ethics just do not agree with me at all.
Still, a short play. You can read it in about an hour.