The Tempest Recently, NBC aired the world premier of their interpretation of Shakespeare s short play, The Tempest. In this rendition, many key points, themes, plot, and character insight were lost in an attempt to connect Shakespeare s tiny deserted island to the American Civil War in Mississippi. Hollywood, following suit, molded The Tempest to fit American history in a venture to modernize Shakespeare, as the recent re-release of Romeo and Juliet accomplished, fails to maintain essential elements in the backbone of the play.
The character of Prospero, the sorcerer who controls the other characters experiences on his island, loses much of his power in the television movie. With the withdrawal of his power, the plot, mutated, takes turns which Shakespeare never intended in his later years when he wrote The Tempest. The time and setting withdraws meaning from the play, trying, ever so unsuccessfully, to depict Ariel as a powerful spirit in the form of a slave. The most obvious difference between the two is the enormous irregularities between plots. The opening scenes of the movie do not meld with the play.
They are a mode which Hollywood created to portray the incidents leading to the hatred between the two brother s, known to Shakespeare as Prospero, the Duke of Milan, and Antonio, the usurping Duke of Milan. The movie portrays the dispute between these two brothers as one of power, remaining close to Skakespeare, but the way which Prospero gains his magical powers and the fellowship of Ariel deviates from the play. Shakespeare depicts the Duke s magic as all self learned while the movie deforms the evil witch in the play to a caring mother from whom Prospero learns his sorcerous ways.
Instead of acting as an adversary to Prospero, the witch aids him. Ariel, who, in the play, has been held captive by Syncorax, the evil witch, is a spirit, not human, while the movie casts Ariel as the son of the witch; a young black man lacking any spirit-like powers. These variations cause many scenes in the movie to take on different meaning then that in Shakespeare s writing. The character of Prospero loses much of his depth and qualities in NBC s rendition of The Tempest. Hollywood focuses on his violent sides, stressing his harshness, feeling that the American people like these characteristics better.
In this attempt to please the viewers, the movie loses the vitally important love and care involved in Prospero s character. He displays this love and sincerity many times throughout the play and only rarely in the movie. When Miranda and Ferdinand meet and fall in love, Prospero is very happy though he hides it for some time, unlike the movie where he tries to forced Miranda to remain in her sheltered life. Shakespeare, in Act IV-Scene 1, describes Prospero as freely recognizing this love. He does not prohibit it as in the movie. Instead, he celebrates their betrothal. This instance shows his love towards others.
Along with a lack of character insight, the movie reduces the Duke s power over the situation. Shakespeare portrays the almighty Prospero in a god-like manner, allowing him to manipulate his pawns, the people whom he has stranded on his island. While the movie attribute the conjuring of the tempest to his powers, it failed to illustrate his power over the other characters. With the aid of Ariel and the other spirits, Prospero, in the play, leads Antonio and the others in circles. At one point, he magically makes a meal appear in the middle of the forest. The Duke of Milan also controls the actions of his brother and associates.
Nowhere in the play is Miranda kidnaped by her uncle as in the movie. Prospero and Ariel, working together, guide the survivors in maze through the island observing everything that happens. When Prospero sees it fit to administer a lesson to Antonio, he took action. He was not overcome by his brother and nearly killed. The TV movie made by NBC mutated Shakespeare s The Tempest in such a way as to change both plot and meaning of the play. Taking the backbone of the play, the writers and directors of the movie, The Tempest, oversimplified the story, removing many important scenes and aspects of the play.
Prospero as a character suffered immensely from Hollywood s adaption of Shakespeare. His magical powers dwindled to unimpressive and his personal qualities of love and care were overwhelmed by his hatred and harshness. The Tempest by NBC attempted to connect Shakespeare s play with the Civil War and miserably failed. Like many movies based on literature, Shakespeare s The Tempest far outstretched its entertainment counterpart and, when done correctly, displays an important lesson for all to learn.