Write a note on the title of the play The Tempest

Write a note on the title of the play The Tempest

Write a note on the title of the play ‘The Tempest’:  Discuss ‘The Tempest’ as a symbolical play, Or ‘’Discuss ‘The Tempest’ as an allegory. Or’’ What is the significance of the title in ‘The Tempest’?

Write a note on the title of the play The Tempest

Shakespeare‘s ‘The Tempest’ is a great symbolical play. If a symbolical interpretation of the play is made, an altogether different meaning comes to light. In that case, the whole play becomes an allegory. An allegory is a composition with double meaning one at the surface and the other with a deeper sense. For example, in the play, the apparent meaning at the surface deals with Prospero while the symbolical meaning makes it an auto biography of Shakespeare.

Title of the play-

The title of the play is highly significant for it symbolizes all the important events of the play. The first tempest was betrayal with Prospero by his younger brother. Prospero was left in a broken boat with his infant daughter. The second tempest was Caliban’s betrayal with Prospero. Prospero had tried to civilize him but he tried to rape Miranda.

The third tempest is raised by Prospero and it opens the action of the play. The fourth tempest is in Miranda’s life with the arrival of Ferdinand. The fifth tempest is again with Miranda when she comes to see a number of human beings. The sixth tempest is Prospero’s decision to give up magic and the island setting free Ariel and Caliban.

Prospero’s island-

It is Prospero’s island. As result to a tempest, all the characters of the play come together on it. The ship is broken, but the passengers are somehow saved. They reach the different parts of the island. Alonso, the King o’ Naples thinks Ferdinand, his worthy son is drowned. Prospero, the right Duke of Milan rules the island.

He was banished unlawfully. He is a great magician and his potent spirit Ariel had raised the tempest. Antonio, his brother usurped the throne of Milan. To teach a lesson to Antonio, the tempest is raised by Prospero who lives here with his daughter Miranda.

Symbolical interpretation-

It is the symbolical interpretation that Prospero’s island represents Shakespeare’s dramatic world. In this world, he ruled with the help of his high imagination and domination over baser instincts of making mean compromises. He was a theatre-writer. He was supposed to write for commercial purpose. High imagination is represented by Ariel and Caliban stands for baser instinct. There was no need of a highly literary composition. There was need of wide popularity.

Shakespeare succeeded in making a balance between commercial purpose and literary value. It was his practical wisdom. He was not an unwise idealist who would have given up writing for theatre in the name of literary quality. Shakespeare’s practical attitude is well-expressed in his dealing with Caliban who represents the baser aspect of life. Miranda is Prospero’s daughter. She represents all virtues in ideal form. She tries her best in civilizing Caliban, but fails. She scorns Caliban for he tries to rape her.

Symbolical interpretation of Miranda’s marriage with Ferdinand-

Shakespeare‘s dramatic art and the heir dramatist are symbolized by Miranda and Ferdinand: ‘The Tempest’ is a great symbolical play. Miranda is symbol of Shakespeare’s dramatic art. When it attains full maturity, it becomes his duty to hand it over to a worthy young man. Miranda looks very beautiful and Ferdinand falls in love with her. Prospero is happy seeing their affection to each other, but puts some obstacle in their union so that Ferdinand might not take her as an easy task. Besides, he succeeds in testing if Ferdinand deserves to be Miranda’s husband or not. Miranda is married to Ferdinand.

Ferdinand is symbol of the young dramatist who would preserve the dramatic art. Now a new sort of characters and their world would be witnessed by dramatic art and presented on the stage. For the first time in her life, Miranda sees so many human beings. She wonders seeing so many goodly creatures on that island. She had seen none except Prospero, Ferdinand and – Caliban.

She had never imagined that mankind is full of such a great variety and beauty. She realizes that the new world has such people in it. Prospero knows that this all is new to Miranda. It shows Shakespeare’s optimism. He is sure that after him drama would not decline but flourish with new colours.

Symbolical interpretation of Prospero’s magic, show and retirement-

In the play, Prospero’s magic, show and retirement have symbolical meaning. Prospero approves the marriage of Miranda with Ferdinand. Prospero presents a show of fairies to celebrate their union. When the show is over, he makes a speech to declare his retirement from the supernatural activities as a magician. Critics discover autobiographical element in it and claim that Prospero is Shakespeare and magic is symbol of Shakespeare’s dramatic craftsmanship.

‘The Tempest’ is his last play. It is symbol of his retirement as a dramatist. The world is symbol of a stage on which a play has its performance. Prospero addresses all supernatural powers to tell them his decision of retirement.

Allegorical meaning of the play-

Unfortunately, Shakespeare had to face a bitter criticism, in his dramatic career that he had filled the stage with killing and blood-shed. Besides, he was accused for not observing dramatic unities. Shakespeare gives reply to all such blames by writing this last play in altogether a different style. The hero does not believe in taking revenge and expresses his full faith in forgiveness. In this play, Shakespeare observes dramatic unities.

There is no change of place for the whole action finished in a few hours and is centralized to one island. Besides, Prospero declares his retirement for magic. It is an indirect declaration of Shakespeare’s retirement. Ferdinand is supposed to be symbol of Fletcher, the young dramatist of that time. He used to meet Shakespeare for guidance. Miranda’s marriage with Ferdinand shows it. Shakespeare’s return to Stratford is represented by Prospero’s return to Milan. In this way, the play is an allegory.

Some scholars have tried to discover political allegory in the play. Accordingly, Prospero is symbol of the English Crown. The island is symbol of local inhabitants of uncivilized areas of Africa. Miranda is symbol of their administrative perfection. Ariel is their wide vision to develop the uncivilized. The passengers of the ship are symbol of other European countries.


Thus, the play is symbolical enough to be taken for an allegory. Prospero may well be taken for an artistic symboi of Shakespeare and in that case, the play takes an autobiographical turn.

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