The world that William Shakespeare creates in The Tempest has many features that make it recognizably like the world we live in. There are bad, self-seeking people; brothers fall out with brothers; people who have power are reluctant to give it up; people fall in love; children love their fathers but want to break free. But there are elements in The Tempest’s world that are very unlike the world we live in. There is a fairy-spirit; there is music in the very air of the island; and there is a powerful magician who can command the elements and even, he tells us, bring the dead back to life. Combining reality and magic, Shakespeare creates an uncanny but morally coherent world through the play’s genre, design, themes, and characters.
This edition features a variety of interleaved materials that expand upon allusions in the play and explore elements of its stagecraft. Appendices offer excerpts from Shakespeare’s key sources and inspirations, along with historical materials on exploration and colonialism.