The Tempest

by William Shakespeare
192 pages, Poetry
Reviewed by Jenny

An easy but lovely play of magic and mercy.


Prospero, the Duke of Milan, has been betrayed and cast out of his realm onto a lonely, magical isle, with only his daughter, his mangled servant, and a spirit helper. The lonely years pass by, and when he spies his enemies sailing close in a ship, he sees his chance and conjures up a storm to cast the ship on his shores in order that he may work his vengeance on his foes.


Mercy is one of the greatest themes of The Tempest. While many characters are wicked, grasping, and conniving, and some characters take on the appearance of unwavering cruelty to test the virtue of others, wickedness is always portrayed as evil, and forbearance, mercy, chastity, and keeping one’s promise are all virtues displayed beautifully in this play.

Spiritual Content

One of the major characters in The Tempest is a spirit, and is accompanied at other times by fellow ethereal forms. Prospero has a magic cloak, book, and staff, which he uses to conjure. Several spirits take on the forms of Roman gods, and tenants of Christianity, such as Providence, are alluded to.


The whole company on the ship are thrown into the sea, and Prospero briefly describes the hardship he went through being exiled from Milan. Characters plot to kill others; Prospero’s black-hearted servant fears his master will make the island spirits torture him if he does not obey.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Two characters grow thoroughly drunk, but are punished.

Sexual Content

In contrast to some of the veiled crude jokes by a few characters is the beautiful chastity between Prospero’s daughter and her betrothed.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

“Whoreson” is used, as well as “bastard.” Prospero’s servant, the son of a witch, is considered the child of the devil. "P***" is used once.


This was a quick, easy read, but an enjoyable one. While the characters are not particularly deep nor original, the chemistry of all the characters together in this single play is intriguing: Prospero and his spirit servant are the crown-jewel of the dramatis personae, Prospero’s daughter and her lover create a delicate contrast to the coarse and bloody intrigue of Prospero’s enemies. And the conclusion of the story with its lovely notes of mercy mixed with justice is a music which is true throughout time.

Fun Score: 4.5
Values Score: 4.5
Written for Age: adult

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