The tempest


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Sonnet in a Bottle – writing to imagine, explore, entertain:

Each students chooses one character to focus on. They must put themselves in the shoes of their character and imagine that they have been given a quill pen, paper and a bottle with a cork in order to write a message in a bottle for their character. They may write about who they are, what has happened to them, their ambitions and disappointments, etc. They must write in the first person. Challenge students to write their message as a sonnet. Model the activity on the board first. For example, Miranda’s sonnet might start:

Borne across the waves twelve long years ago

My father’s dukedome never since I’ve seen;

Now winds across the seas our ship will blow

And I shall there return and reign as queen.

This activity provides rich scope for wall displays.

Love in the play – writing to analyse, review, comment:

Students should consider as many different kinds of love as they can, eg. self love, platonic love, romantic love and the love of power. Find examples of each kind of love in the play, writing quotations underneath each type of love.

Students to consider which type of love is most important in “The Tempest”.
Magic in the play – writing to analyse, review, comment:

Explain that most, if not all, of the characters in the play undergo a “sea-change” and are forever altered by the events following the tempest. The tempest itself is the first magical act of the play, but certainly not the last and it is perhaps magic that results in the largest and most noticeable changes in the characters.

Essay: How is magic used in “The Tempest”?
Also consider Caliban’s words about Prospero, “First to possess his books; for without them / He’s but a sot …” (Act 3, Scene 2, lines 79-80). What does Caliban mean by this? Do you think this is an accurate portrayal of Prospero? Does Prospero ever use magic in a bad way? What could Prospero have done to get his Dukedom back had he not used magic?
Enslavement in the play:
Does Shakespeare present enslavement as a positive or negative concept in “The Tempest”?

Consider how the following characters experience some kind of enslavement:

Prospero; Caliban; Alonso; Miranda; Ariel; Ferdinand.

Ask students to think about Prospero’s position on the island, his treatment of Ariel and Ariel’s freedom at the end of the play. Also consider how Alonso becomes remorseful about his treatment of Prospero while on the island and how slavery can keep innocent people safe.

Language techniques in The Tempest
Consider the use of the following techniques in “The Tempest”:

Alliteration, onomatopoeia, repetition of key words, balanced phrases, exaggeration, emotive language, dramatic words or phrases, use of imagery, groups of three, pronouns to involve the audience, exclamations and questions.

More able students should be able to identify examples of each device in the play.
Imagery and patterns of language
Start with Prospero’s metaphor,

he was / the ivy which had hid my princely trunk, / And sucked my verdure out on’t”

which he uses to describe how his brother, Antonio, ursurped him. Students could also draw a sketch to illustrate this image.
Students should then find other examples of similes and metaphors in the play and explore their meaning. Examples are listed below:
I’ll warrant him from drowning; though the ship were no stronger than a nutshell and as leaky as an unstanched wench.
He receives comfort like cold porridge.
They’ll take suggestion as a cat laps milk.
The truth you speak doth lack some gentleness

And time to speak it in; you rub the sore,

When you should bring the plaster.
His tears run down his beard, like winter’s drops

From eaves of reeds.
Songs in The Tempest
Identify the different songs used in “The Tempest” in the following scenes:

  • Act 1, Scene 2

  • Act 2, Scene 1

  • Act 2, Scene 2

  • Act 4, Scene 1

  • Act 5, Scene 1

What is the importance of music in “The Tempest”?

Who changes the most and who changes the least in the play? Consider Miranda, Prospero, Alonso, Ariel, Antonio, Ferdinand, Sebastian and Caliban.
Reporting the news:
Examine the following main events in the play. Students should select the five most important events. In making their decision, students should take into account the dramatic impact of the events, their effect on the plot and their effect on the characters:

  1. The king and the royal party are caught in a storm

  2. Ferdinand is led to Prospero and Miranda

  3. Caliban tries to rape Miranda

  4. Ferdinand and Miranda fall in love

  5. Prospero has an opportunity to get off the island

  6. Antonio persuades Sebastian to murder Alonso

  7. Caliban persuades Stephano and Trinculo to murder Prospero

  8. Gonzalo is a loyal old man

  9. Prospero pretends to disapprove of Ferdinand and Miranda’s love, but he secretly approves

  10. Antonio’s daughter has just got married

  11. Ariel prevents Caliban, Trinculo and Stephano from murdering Prospero

  12. Ariel prevents Antonio and Sebastian from murdering Alonso

  13. All the sailors on board the ship are kept safe and the boat is sea-worthy at the end of the play

  14. Prospero forgives the king for his part in his banishment

  15. Ferdinand and Miranda intend to get married

  16. Prospero returns to Milan to be Duke again

  17. Prospero surrenders his magic

In groups of two or three, students should then imagine they are part of a TV news channel, bringing important stories and updates to viewers as they happen. Each group is a news team and is in competition with every other team to bring the most relevant, interesting and insightful news reports to the viewers. Each group will need to give the “bare bones” of the top stories on the island and work out how to present them to make the most impact. Remind students that they need to imagine that they do not know what will happen next – this news is unfolding as they are working.

Individually, students could write a newspaper article about the most important event.
TASK: Consider how Prospero changes his attitude to others in the play. How would you direct the two extracts from Act 1 Scene 2 and Act Five Scene 1 to show these changes?

3. produce formal essays in standard English within a specified time, writing fluently and legibly and maintaining technical accuracy when writing at speed;

13. develop and compare different interpretations of scenes or plays by Shakespeare;

Prepare students carefully for this activity by planning and discussing the essay in class before they write up their responses, under timed conditions.

Consider how Prospero’s language shows he is ready to give up magic and forgive the characters who have wronged him?
Points to consider:

In Act 1, Scene 2, Prospero checks Ariel’s work on the tempest and is affectionate towards him. However, his close attention to detail is also very demanding. Note that Prospero gives Ariel very little praise and encourages Ariel to do even more work, checking time, etc. Prospero also responds without sympathy to Ariel’s request for freedom – notes how the speeches become shorter and more hostile, reminding Ariel the way he has freed him from Sycorax’s captivity, accusing him of ingratitude and longer speeches paint detailed pictures of the past, ending by threatening Ariel with imprisonment and ordering him to do more work.

Prospero’s words to Caliban are also harsh with a great deal of insults and orders.
In Act 5, Scene 1, Prospero has achieved the results he wished from the tempest described in Act 1, Scene 2 – a more relaxed, seemingly older man, despite the fact only four hours have passed (it is now 6 o’clock). He asks for update on King and followers since he raised the tempest – they are weary and totally under his control – powerful magic. Prospero orders Ariel to release them and his long soliloquy addresses magical elements, before abandoning his powers, “I’ll drown my book.”
The length of his address to Gonzalo, Alonso, Ariel, Sebastian, Antonio, Adrian and Francisco, who are now in front of his cell, underlines Prospero’s power – they are still under his spell. He forgives them all and orders Ariel to get his hat and sword and promises his freedom. Ariel sings a song of summer happiness while Prospero removes his magic cloak and gives Ariel his freedom and reveals that the ship is ready to sail away from the island. As the characters come out of the spell, Prospero forgives them.

Discuss revenge in general. What makes people seek revenge? How do they get it?

In groups of 4 or 5, students should devise a scene in which a person seeks revenge for a betrayal. How do they get revenge?

Students should then imagine that the person seeking revenge has developed magical powers. How might this affect their revenge?

Ask students to discuss how people feel when they get revenge on someone. Does it satisfy them? How might this link with “The Tempest”?

In groups of 6 or 7, students should devise a scene in which a ship is caught in a storm. They should use mime and dialogue to show panic and fear in language and physical actions. Students should think carefully about how to end the scene effectively.

The scene could be set to music or sound effects.

Discuss with the class how Miranda is very naïve and has a very limited knowledge of humanity.

Students should then imagine that aliens have landed in their town and have to have everything explained to them, including the complex ways humans interact. In groups of 6, students should devise a scene in which the aliens are confused by how people act towards each other on Earth and the human “tour guides” have to explain what is really happening. They should try to build up a sense of mystery for the audience before the scene is explained.

Discuss with the class how human behaviour is sometimes odd, confusing or cruel, and what might cause such behaviour.
Remind students how, in this scene, Caliban has been drinking with Trinculo and Stephano and is boasting to them while Ariel makes himself invisible and taunts Caliban by calling him a liar.

In groups of 5, students should devise a modern scene which shows one person bragging in order to impress a group of people. Perhaps this bragging is fuelled by alcohol. The fifth person is an invisible “voice” who taunts the speaker. It is up to the group to decide how the “voice” is connected to the bragger and whether the other characters can hear it. This scene could be used to explore comic timing.

Give students photocopies of Prospero’s soliloquy. Read and discuss this speech. Ask students how this might be presented using dramatic devices to help explain its meaning to a group of younger students.
In groups of 3 or 4, students should prepare, learn and present this epilogue in an interesting yet explanatory way.
Students to show how Prospero was usurped;

Show through drama how a teenage Miranda might rebel against her controlling father;

Fast-forward in time to show what becomes of the main characters five years later;

Imagine Ariel, Caliban, Prospero and Miranda have been invited to appear on a TV chat show (Jerry Springer?). Devise a scene to show what might happen!

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