The tragedy with a twist


Shakespeare’s works are some of the most iconic pieces of English literature that have exploded throughout the world, leaving a lasting impression in the world of storytelling, especially in theatre.

Although I knew of his works before, it wasn’t until another piece of media influenced me to start picking up plays written by the legendary playwright and start reading them for myself, did I get caught in a Shakespeare-reading phase. But that’s a story for another day.

Of course, Shakespeare is known best for his tragedies, from Macbeth to Hamlet and Othello, and let’s not forget Romeo and Juliet. But there are some instances where things take a lighter turn in Shakespeare’s works. Even though things do get bleak and there is still injustice and unfairness, there is also some fantasy, joy, and dare I say, a happy ending.

Revenge plot reversed

Shakespeare is known for his intriguing revenge plots, and The Tempest is a play that has all the elements for one. There’s the wronged family of Prospero, stripped of his title and castaway in an unknown island with his daughter. Then, opportunity strikes when his enemies are brought right to him thanks to a storm caused by the spirit Ariel, and revenge is at hand, as is the chance to take back what is rightfully his.

Of course, his isn’t the only plot that’s afoot. There are a few sub plots that take place as well that could have easily derailed Prospero’s entire plan, either failing entirely, or resulting in more death.

The Tempest sets up an interesting revenge plot, and before the full plan is able to set itself in motion, things take a twist, and what seems like a plot that will end in tragedy becomes a hopeful ending. Prospero’s plan fails, but for the better.

Only in fiction?

If you read through The Tempest, you would easily be able to identify the reason behind this ‘turn for the better’, and yes, although it is true that this is simply a play, it’s also true that works of fiction are reflections of reality, and there’s a few important themes to unpack on how unlike a number of other plays where tragedy strikes (as seen in Hamlet or Othello), it doesn’t in The Tempest. Maybe it’s also true in real life. Maybe Shakespeare is trying to share something valuable for all of us to avoid some of the personal tragedies that we might have to face.

Worth the read?

Of course, this isn’t the only interpretation that’s out there. Art is subjective and is open for interpretation, no matter the medium.

As said before, The Tempest isn’t as notable a piece of literature compared to some of Shakespeare’s other narratives. Does that mean that there isn’t as much substance to obtain compared to other pieces of Shakespeare’s work? Probably so.

But I would say it’s a great place to start experiencing Shakespeare’s work for yourself, and highly recommend you try reading The Tempest for yourself and see what conclusions you might be able to derive from it.

By Shanuka Kadupitiyage