Dear Shakespeare: A Critique of The Tempest
To Mr. William Shakespeare,
I am going to get right down to business. I am writing to you regarding
our recent collaboration on The Tempest. In my opinion I think we need to make
a couple of changes. The first is in regards to Caliban and the second has to
do with Prospero.
As I was reading the section of the play where Caliban takes Stephano as
his master I began to think about how he should be wiser by now. As is Caliban
begs a drunken Stephano to be his master. In my opinion Caliban should show
development by not drinking and possibly taking advantage of the drunk Stephano
and Trinculo. It should develop in this fashion:
Caliban:I believe that I can assist you in your stay on the
Stephano: What mean you beast?
Caliban: I prithee, let me bring thee where crabs grow,
And I with my long nails will dig thee pignuts,
Show thee a jay’s nest, and instruct thee how
To snare the nimble marmoset. I’ll bring thee
To clustering filberts, and I’ll teach thee to get
Young scamels from the rock. Does’t though attend me?
Stephano:I do. For all this service what want’st you in return.
Caliban: I ask but one simple service. The death of my tyrant
Stephano:You ask me to murder for you?
Caliban: I ask only that you remove your only opponent in making
me your vassal.
Stephano:Well bargain’d for a monster such as thee. I shall
If the scene is run in this way Caliban is developed as more human and less
monster. Also it adds more urgency to the possible danger Stephano and Trinculo
bring, but the comic aspect remains because the two are drunk.
My second suggestion addresses the issues of Prospero and tempests. At
the end of the play there is the opportunity for great suspense. The
interaction between Prospero and his brother and conspirator could be much more
intense. You could easily create an internal conflict for Prospero where he
debates whether or not to take action against Antonio. Of course he cannot have
given up his powers at this point. Instead of just letting Antonio alone
Prospero could use his magic to give him pains, make him small or one of many
other whimsical tricks to teach Antonio a lesson; I think that causing Antonio
to sleep and in turn not taking him home would be the most fitting punishment.
If need be Prospero could discuss it with the king, possibly in this way:
Prospero:Have you a moment my lord?
Alonso: Of course, what brings you?
Prospero: As you know my brother Antonio caused my daughter and myself to
be stranded upon this isle for these many years.
Alonso: Ay, a fact that I myself apologize for.
Prospero:Thank you my lord but ’twas not your fault. My evil
brother alone deserves the punishment for the wrong acted against me.
Alonso: And you would like to act out the sentence.
Prospero: You are a wise man my liege.
Alonso: What do you propose my good duke?
Prospero:With my powers I could cause him to fall into a harmless
sleep until we have left this isle without him. This would be a most fitting
Alonso: That it would, but would you allow such a fate to befall
Prospero:I do not wish to do such a thing but the rage inside me
demands that action be taken against him.
Alonso: Keep your heart at ease my son. Action will be taken,
he will be ridiculed and you will be reinstated in your rightful position.
Prospero: I wish for action to be taken now. It burns within me that he be
Alonso: I cannot control you my son, but I advise that you let him be.
Though, if with you great powers you were to take some action against him you
would be the only one to know.
After this scene has been inserted I think that at some point a great storm
should form around Antonio only to die down when Prospero regains his composure.
In the fashion the theme of tempests would be enhanced and also the suspense
would be greatly increased bringing the audience more into the moment. Also, it
would take reduce the feeling that Prospero is an old man lacking strength or
As your assistant I bring you these suggestions.