13 January 2015
Shakespeare’s The Tempest can be interpreted as both a tragedy and romance. When truly interpreting Shakespeare’s final work, though, there are many elements of romance that lead us to lean towards the affectionate genre. Initially, Schwartz writes about “extraordinary occurrences” in his list of characteristics of Shakespearean romance (Schwartz). The Tempest employs quite a few extraordinary occurrences, most specifically the beginning when a shipwreck takes place: “We were all sea-swallow’d, though some cast again” (Shakespeare 2.1). Furthermore, Schwartz speaks about supernatural events, which are extremely relevant in The Tempest. For example, one supernatural being, Prospero, uses his magic to regain his Dukedom and punish his enemies. At the end of the play, Prospero longs to return to society and speaks about his now disinterest with using magic: “…I’ll break my staff, bury it certain fathoms in the earth, and deeper than did ever plummet sound I’ll drown my book” (Shakespeare 5.1). Another example of a supernatural character is Ariel, a magical being who casts spells throughout the play: “Then I beat my tabour; At which, like unback'd colts, they prick'd their ears, Advanced their eyelids…As they smelt music: so I charm'd their ears…” (Shakespeare 4.1.15). Schwartz comments on the supernatural aspects by explaining, “Romance is unrealistic. Supernatural elements abound, and characters often seem "larger than life" (Schwartz).
Lastly, The Tempest employs a romantic feel through its sudden “happy ending.” Schwartz explains that “The "happy ending" may seem unmotivated or contrived, not unlike the deus ex machina” (Schwartz). The Tempest’s happy ending comes with setting prisoners free, Prospero giving up his island, as well as his powers that allowed him to control Caliban. The conflict is essentially resolved at the end of the play and all of the characters seemingly live “happily ever after.” Shakespeare commonly employed these characteristics in his works, and The Tempest in no way lacks in being one of his most well-known romances to date.
Schwartz, Debora B. "Shakespeare's Four Final Plays: The Romances. 2005. Web. 14 January 2015.
"The Tempest: Entire Play." The Tempest: Entire Play. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Jan. 2015.