[[caption-width-right:320:A scene -- after [[strike: one hard party]] enchantments]]

''The Tempest'' is one of Creator/WilliamShakespeare's late "romances", not quite fitting into the categories of comedy or tragedy. The play centers around Prospero, a powerful sorcerer and the former Duke of Milan who was usurped by his brother, Antonio, and sent out to sea with just his books and his daughter, Miranda. Twelve years later, Prospero is ruling over a seemingly deserted island, with two of the island's only other beings at his command: Ariel, an air spirit (who's grateful to Prospero for rescuing him from being trapped in a tree, but would like to be freed from his service soon), and Caliban, the deformed son of a witch (who hates his master, and makes no secret of it).

When Antonio, along with a group that includes the King of Naples and his son, Ferdinand, sails by the island, Prospero has Ariel create a storm (the eponymous tempest) to shipwreck them onto the island, so that Prospero may have his revenge. The story ends happily, though, with Prospero forgiving those that wronged him, Ferdinand and Miranda falling in love and getting married, and Ariel getting his hard-earned freedom.

This play is considered one of Shakespeare's finest, even to this day. Creator/GustaveDore illustrated the story. It inspired the science fiction classics ''Literature/BraveNewWorld'', ''Film/ForbiddenPlanet'' and ''Prospero's Books'', and Music/TheDecemberists song ''The Island'', and the characters appear again in ''Literature/ProsperosDaughter'' and ''Literature/AMidsummerTempest''. Contrary to popular belief, it was ''not'' the Bard's final work (it may have been the last play Shakespeare wrote by himself, but even that is not certain). It's also one of the few plays in which Shakespeare appears to have come up with an original plot [[note]]along with ''Theatre/LovesLaboursLost'', ''Theatre/AMidsummerNightsDream'', and ''Theatre/TheMerryWivesOfWindsor''[[/note]].

There are roughly twenty-one filmed and televised versions of this play. Some play it straight, some update to modern times, [[Film/TheTempest2010 one directed by Julie Taymor]] cast Creator/HelenMirren as Prosper''a'', and others such as ''Prospero's Books'' are [[MindScrew massively wild re-interpretations]].

!!This play provides examples of:

* TheAlcoholic: Stephano and Trinculo.
* AndIMustScream: Prior to being released by Prospero, Ariel was trapped inside a pine tree for some time by Sycorax. Granted, he ''could'' scream (which led to his release), but he couldn't do anything about it either.
* ArtisticLicenseGeography: Averted. Act I Scene 2 tells us that Prospero and Miranda were taken from Milan by "bark" (boat) "some leagues to the sea" where they were put aboard "a rotten carcass of a boat". While Milan does not have direct access to the ocean, Milan does have access to an extensive network of canals, one of which connects Milan to the Mediterranean Sea, through its Darsena harbour, via the Ticino river. The Grand Canal (''Naviglio Grande'') [[http://www.gwu.edu/~ieresgwu/assets/docs/CanalsofMilan.pdf is still around today]], and the Darsena harbour only stopped operating as a shipping port in [[http://www.italoamericano.org/story/2015-5-16/darsena 1979]]. A recent renovation has [[http://www.turismo.milano.it/wps/portal/tur/en/arteecultura/architetturaemonumenti/monumenti/darsena reopened this port]] for use as a shipping port and tourism destination.
* AsYouKnow: A lot of this in Prospero's first scenes with Ariel and Caliban, to explain the latter two's back stories.
* TheAtoner: Prospero has moments of this later in the play, and renounces sorcery at the end.
* AttemptedRape: In the BackStory, Caliban tried this on Miranda and has ''never'' ceased reminding Prospero of it.
* AuthorAvatar: Prospero, according to many critics. The FourthWall-breaking speech at the end certainly helps this idea, though it's hardly the first of Shakespeare's plays to end with a character directly soliciting the audience's approval. Some critics view Prospero's farewell to magic as Shakespeare's farewell to theater and writing, but this ignores the official timeline that Shakespeare wrote more plays after this.
* ButtMonkey:
** Stephano and Trinculo, whilst having nothing to do with the usurping of Prospero, spend the entire play being ridiculed whilst flat-out drunk. Trinculo specifically in Act 3 Scene 2, when Stephano constantly beats him as punishment for what the invisible Ariel says.
** Caliban too, but since he once [[AttemptedRape attempted to rape]] Miranda, one can debate that he deserves it.
* CassandraTruth: Gonzalo is right about ''everything,'' but no one ever listens to him.
* TheChessmaster: Prospero
* ClapYourHandsIfYouBelieve: Prospero references this in his fourth-wall breaking speech at the end.
* DaddysGirl: Miranda.
* DrowningMySorrows: Caliban, after ThoseTwoGuys meet him.
* EvilPrince: Antonio.
* {{Expy}}: Prospero is often considered to have been inspired by [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_dee John Dee]], an adviser to UsefulNotes/ElizabethI. Dee was a practicing occultist who was an early advocate of colonizing the New World -- and, contemporary legend had it, he had saved England from the Spanish Armada by using his magic powers to... ''raise a tempest''.
** During his later years John Dee completely lost all courtly income when King James I--well known for his fear of witches, witchcraft, and the supernatural, including astrology--succeeded Queen Elizabeth I in 1603. John Dee was forced to sell most of his books and astrological paraphenalia to survive, a parallel to Prospero giving up his magic, and his books of magic, to return to Milan.
* FriendToAllLivingThings: Miranda. She cries for the victims of the storm, and only calms down when her father assures her nobody was hurt. According to some versions of the play, she tried to teach Fish-Man and resident EnemyToAllLivingThings Caliban to read prior to the events of the play, but gave it up when he attempted to rape her.
* GenderBlenderName: Yes, confused readers: Ariel is male. Sometimes. See ViewerGenderConfusion. [[note]]Until the latter half of the 20th Century, Ariel was more commonly a male name than a female name. In Israel, this is still the case--recall the former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. That said, Ariel is only referred to using masculine gender pronouns twice in the entire play, one of which is a stage direction rather than a line of dialogue, and the character was played exclusively by female actors from the mid-17th century to the 1930s. And then on top of that, Ariel is a shapeshifter, the actor playing Ariel sometimes also plays the goddess Ceres, and the classical conception of the four elements considered air to be hermaphroditic, so honestly, it's little wonder that his gender is so much in question.[[/note]]
* GenreSavvy: Prospero -- why else would the guy fake a ParentalMarriageVeto while playing TheMatchmaker?
* HappinessInSlavery: Averted. Both Caliban and Ariel are Prospero's slaves, and both demand freedom, though they use different arguments. Ariel is eventually freed; Caliban's fate is left more ambiguous.
* HarmlessVillain: It's clear from the beginning that Caliban's takeover has no chance of succeeding.
* HiddenDepths: Caliban is a despicable creature, who tried to rape Miranda and says he only values her teaching him to read because it opened up a whole new world of cursing and profanity for him...and then he gives a poetic, loving, beautiful description of the wilderness of the island, his only lines in rhymed verse.
* IfJesusThenAliens: One of the men believes in unicorns after seeing Prospero's magic.
* {{Irony}} : When Miranda comes in at the climax and sees Alonso, Sebastian and Antonio, she's overjoyed at there being ''more'' humans and exclaims "O, wonder! How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, That has such people in't!"[[note]]Act V Scene 1[[/note]] She's using these words to describe usurpers and men who would gladly turn upon their own brothers and rulers; if Antonio had had his way, she and her father would be ''long'' dead.
* TheIngenue: Miranda.
* {{Invisibility}}: One of Ariel's powers is invisibility. In fact, except for rare moments when he changes form, no one but Prospero can see him at all.
* IslandOfMystery: Prospero's island.
* {{Jerkass}}: Antonio and Sebastian, and Prospero at times.
* KarmaHoudini: Antonio gets basically no comeuppance for his actions against Prospero. Prospero does torture them a bit through Ariel; whether this is enough is another question.
* LampshadeHanging: Shakespearean costuming was usually done with rich, well kept contemporary clothes regardless of the setting. This is why Prospero mentions how he was given rich linens before being exiled from Milan, and why the shipwrecked noblemen comment on how their clothes are bone dry despite having been sent through a storm.
* LoveAtFirstSight: Ferdinand and Miranda.
* MadScientistsBeautifulDaughter: Miranda
* MagicWand: Prospero can "disarm thee with this stick, and make thy weapon drop." [[note]]''Act I Scene 2, to FERDINAND''[[/note]]
* MamasBabyPapasMaybe: Brushed on -- Prospero tells Miranda that her virtuous mother had told him she was his daughter.
* TheMatchmaker: Prospero
* MeaningfulName: Prospero's name comes from the Latin word for "good fortune", which may or may not be ironic, depending on your point of view (he's unlucky to have been deposed, but lucky to be alive). Ariel means "Lion of God," appropriate here because he, being the one who unleashes the tempest, carries out the forceful will of Prospero, a godlike figure. Miranda's name means "to marvel", which is something she both does herself and inspires in others. Trinculo's name derives from a word for excessive drinking. Ferdinand means "brave journey". It's been suggested that "Caliban" is an almost anagram of "cannibal". [[note]]Shakespeare, whose carelessness about spelling was such that he never quite made up his mind how to spell ''his own name'', would probably not have agreed with the "almost".[[/note]]
* MissingMom: Miranda's mother is mentioned once.
* ParentalMarriageVeto: Subversion -- Prospero only ''pretends'' to oppose Ferdinand and Miranda's relationship.
* ThePhilosopherKing: Slightly subverted, as, rather than making him a more effective ruler, Prospero's quest for knowledge ultimately distracts him from more worldly concerns, such as his brother trying to usurp him.
* PlotParallel
* RagsToRoyalty
* ReversePsychology: Prospero's fake ParentalMarriageVeto
* RippedFromTheHeadlines: Some Shakespeare scholars claim that the story of the ''Sea Venture'', a ship bound for Jamestown in 1609, which was blown off course to Bermuda where it was wrecked and survivors established a new colony in Virginia, was the inspiration for this play. While eyewitness William Strachey did write an account of the shipwreck and subsequent colony founding in 1610, the letter was critical of the Virginia Company, the management of the colony, and was suppressed until the Company was dissolved in 1625, when it was published as ''A True Reportory''. [[note]]The full name was ''A true reportory of the wracke, and redemption of Sir Thomas Gates Knight; vpon, and from the Ilands of the Bermudas: his coming to Virginia, and the estate of that Colonie then, and after, vnder the gouernment of the Lord La Warre, Iuly 15. 1610''. Publishers seemed to like really long names back then.[[/note]]. Since this story was published 9 years after Shakespeare's death, and was not available outside the Americas until then, it is unlikely Shakespeare used it as his inspiration for ''The Tempest''. Stories of shipwrecks near Bermuda, an island surrounded by reefs, were common, so the story may well have been ripped from the headlines. One such account was of the [[http://www.wrecksite.eu/wreck.aspx?180398#145178 San Pedro]], a ship bound from Castaneda (a Spanish colony in the Caribbean) in 1596 for Spain, listed in contemporary Spanish documents in Madrid, Spain as "Lost In Bermuda". The wreck was discovered in 1951.
* SecretTestOfCharacter: Another reason for the above-mentioned ParentalMarriageVeto.
* SetRightWhatOnceWentWrong: Prospero summons the eponymous storm and performs [[EvilPlan his elaborate plot]] in a seeming effort to avenge his exile from dukedom. But the way his actions serve to teach his scheming brother, and the swiftness in which he agrees to Ariel's plea for mercy, suggest Prospero wasn't in this for revenge: he just wanted to go home with his daughter. (In the very last speech of the play he breaks the fourth wall and asks the audience to pray for him to be forgiven.)
** Bear in mind that Prospero, as a member of the nobility, might not have needed forgiveness for exacting revenge on people who kicked him out of Italy. The sorcery, on the other hand, was [[ValuesDissonance very illegal and a major sin]] in Elizabethan England, and would have been a very good reason for Prospero to beg the audience to pray for his soul, in much the same way that Puck in ''Theatre/AMidsummerNightsDream'' tells the audience that if all this magic has offended them, they should imagine they have just dreamed it all.
* ShownTheirWork: The commands shouted by the boatswain in the opening storm are exactly the actions a contemporary ship's crew would need to perform in their situation.
* SpiritualSuccessor: To ''Theatre/AMidsummerNightsDream''. Both plays feature a splintered cast of characters wandering around an enchanted wood where mythological spirits use illusion and magic to toy with humans, and both feature plentiful allusions between the artificiality of theater and the nature of love and humanity. But whereas ''Midsummer'', written towards the start of Shakespeare's career, is about lovestruck passion, ''Tempest'' is a much more mature work about an aging patriarch using wisdom to temper the folly of youth, as well as his swan song as a solo artist. Together, they form a nice pair of book ends for his career.
* TenderTears: Miranda, on seeing the shipwreck.
* ThoseTwoGuys / ThoseTwoBadGuys:
** Stephano and Trinculo.
** Adrian and Francisco, in Alonso's party.
* UnusualEuphemism: Sycorax, Caliban's mother and the witch who trapped Ariel in a pine tree long before the play's events, is described as "blue-eyed" as a euphemism for "pregnant." Reportedly, this expression refers to the eyelids of pregnant women turning bluish. Maybe an iron deficiency?
* VisibleInvisibility: Ariel and the other fairies are invisible to all characters save Prospero, but visible to the audience.
* WhatTheHellHero: Reversed; the moment Prospero decides to back out of his revenge plan -- a near-miss "MyGodWhatHaveIDone"
** Ariel does do this to Prospero if you assume Prospero is moved by Ariel's lines:\\\
That if you now beheld them, your affections\\
Would become tender.\\\
Dost thou think so, spirit?\\\
Mine would, sir, were I human. ''Act V Scene 1''

* WinWinEnding

!!Various productions and adaptations provide examples of:

* AlternativeCharacterInterpretation: In the play, Prospero makes the accusation that Caliban "didst seek to violate / The honour of my child". In a retelling by Creator/BrianAldiss, Miranda and Caliban were in love with each other, and Prospero separated them against their will.[[invoked]]
** A similar interpretation is visited on all the characters in Literature/MirandaAndCaliban by Creator/JacquelineCarey, which is written as a total PerspectiveFlip starting when the title characters are very young.
* CanonWelding: It's not done in the play itself, but many later writers have identified Sycorax with [[Myth/ClassicalMythology Circe]].
* TheCoverChangesTheMeaning: The 2012 London Olympics opening and closing ceremonies used Caliban's "Be not afraid" speech, but changed the context and the emphasis to give a different meaning.
* GenderFlip: It's not uncommon for Ariel to be played by a female actor. Some productions have a female actor play Prospero. Though less common, some productions recast Trinculo as a woman because of the massive amount of HoYay between him/her and Stephano. Even characters such as Stephano, Sebastian and Antonio have switched genders on the odd occasion.
* HiddenDepths: Creator/RobertBrowning's poem ''Caliban Upon Setebos'', basically Caliban musing on his deity with Darwinist undertones, is an excellent fanfiction on Caliban exploring such depths.
* OutdoorsyGal: Miranda is often interpreted as one (such as in the 2010 film), due to her being a FriendToAllLivingThings who's lived on an island most of her life.