Historical and Cultural Context of The Tempest Flashcards

When was The Tempest written and first performed?

The Tempest was written around 1610-1611 and first performed in 1611 at the court by the King’s Men during the reign of King James I.

How does The Tempest reflect British colonialism?

The relationship between Prospero and Caliban mirrors the hostility between European colonisers and indigenous peoples.

Prospero’s control over the island and Caliban’s resistance critique colonisation and the dehumanisation of native peoples.

What is Gonzalo’s vision of a utopia in The Tempest?

In Act 2, Scene 1, Gonzalo imagines a utopia where business, judges, money, servants, private ownership, employment and monarchy are abolished.

How does The Tempest reflect contemporary beliefs about magic and the supernatural?

The play features characters like Prospero, a powerful magician, and Sycorax, a witch, reflecting Jacobean society’s fascination with magic, witches and spirits.

Prospero’s use of magic to right past wrongs and then giving it up highlights the era’s views on the potential dangers of magic.

How is Prospero’s character potentially connected to a real historical figure?

Prospero is speculated to be modelled on John Dee, a celebrated Tudor intellectual known for his expertise in mathematics, astrology, history and magic, and his claimed communications with angels and spirits.

What does Prospero’s retirement from magic symbolise?

Prospero’s retirement from magic at the end of the play may symbolise Shakespeare’s own retirement from playwriting, as ‘The Tempest’ is thought to be his final play written independently.

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