"What's past is prologue."

--The Tempest

Nixon Tempest

The Tempest

Directions: After reading the lecture, answer one of the main questions, which will appear in bold. This question is due no later than Thursday, May 17. Following that will be other questions, in black, which you should read and think about--they may help you answer the main question. However, you are not required to answer these questions in writing.

Your responses to other students' answers are due by midnight on Sunday, May 20. In order to get the full 20 points, you MUST respond thoughtfully to at least 2 other people's postings.

This set of discussion questions is worth a possible 20 points. Remember: late answers receive 0 points, so post early :)

We will be using the Canvas Discussion Board for this class. Click on the link below to get to the Canvas portal, sign in, and then click on the box for this class. You will find the "Discussions" link on the left side of the screen:

Discussion Board


The Tempest Link

Remember: You are required to answer only one of the "red" questions, although you are, of course, welcome to answer more than one if you wish.

1. The Tempest was one of Shakespeare's last plays. Some scholars believe that, in Prospero's voice, he is bidding farewell to his audiences. Do you agree? Explain.

2. How does Shakespeare's vision of the world in The Tempest, a later comedy, compare to that revealed in A Midsummer Night's Dream, an earlier one?

3. Compare Prospero's speech, IV.1.165ff., to Macbeth's "sound and fury" speech, V.5.22ff. Do the two men share the same view of the world?

1. Why did Shakespeare choose to begin Act I showing the reactions of those on the ship? Why not begin with Prospero and Miranda?
2. What is revealed by the behavior of Alonso and the others to the Boatswain?
3. What story does Prospero tell Miranda about how they came to be on the island?
4. Whom does he blame for Antonio's betrayal of him? How was Antonio allowed to get so much power in Milan?
5. Who helped Prospero after he was betrayed by Antonio?
6. How did Ariel "convince" the crew and passengers to leave the ship?
7. Why are we told the story of Ariel's background? What dramatic purpose does it serve?
8. Why did Prospero imprison Caliban?
9. What is Miranda's reaction when she sees Ferdinand? What is his reaction when he sees her? How does Prospero feel about this?
10. Why does Prospero intend to make it difficult for Ferdinand to win Miranda?
11. In II.1, Gonzalo is trying to comfort Alonso. What does this scene reveal about the personalities and characters of Gonzalo, Antonio, and Sebastian?
12. Sebastian says of Gonzalo, "No, he doth but mistake the truth totally" (II.1.60). What does he mean?
13. What does Sebastian say to Alonso about the marriage of his daughter? How does Gonzalo rebuke Sebastian? (II.1.131ff.)
14. Why, in II.1., does Ariel leave Antonio and Sebastian awake, while charming the others to sleep? Is Shakespeare saying we are all being manipulated by forces we can't see?
15. What is Antonio's response when Sebastian asks him whether his conscience bothers him? (II.1.317ff.)
16. Other than to provide some comedy, what is the purpose of Act 2, Scene 2?
17. How does Shakespeare use contraries in III.1. to heighten the tension in the lovers?
18. In III.2., why is Caliban afraid of Prospero's books?
19. How do the scenes with Stephano, Trinculo, and Caliban reflect the scenes with Antonio, Sebastian, Alonso, and Gonzalo?
20. How does III.3. exploit the theme of appearance vs. reality?
21. Ariel says, in III.3.70, that it is Destiny which caused the storm and their survival, but really it was Prospero. What is Shakespeare saying about Destiny in this scene?
22. What is the thematic significance of the gathering of the spirits in IV.1.?
23. What is Prospero saying in his speech in IV.1.165ff.? Is this the "message" of the play?
24. In V.1.35-6, Prospero says, "The rarer action is / In virtue than in vengeance." How is that line more appropriate to a comedy than a tragedy?
25. In his speech in V.1.42ff., what does Prospero vow to do? Why does he decide to do this?
26. One of the themes of this play is that goodness can come from evil. Where in the play is this most clearly expressed?
27. To whom is the Epilogue addressed? What is its meaning? Is this Prospero speaking, or the actor portraying Prospero?


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