The Tempest is often considered to be the last work that William Shakespeare wrote by himself, without collaboration. It does not have much plot to it, and it is fast-moving; it is filled with music and supernatural elements, and there is not much in the way of character development. Yet, it is an enchanting play to read and watch, as Prospero wields his magic powers, aided by the fiery spirit Ariel, to right a wrong done to him by his own brother 12 years before. The play is also very funny, in a humor that still stands even with today’s students. The play covers important themes such as illusion vs. reality, revenge, discovery, and redemption.
Thought to be written in 1611, many scholars believe that Shakespeare was inspired by the story of an expedition of the Virginia Company which had been scattered in a storm. Miraculously, the flagship vessel called Sea Venture (sometimes also called the Sea Adventure ) ran aground in Bermuda, and the men aboard the ship were able to regroup and found the island delightful. They made it safely back to the Jamestown colony, and their stories of the mysterious but beautiful island of Bermuda created quite a buzz in the colonies, and in England. The most notable man to survive the voyage was Sir Thomas Gates, the future governor of Virginia. Have students read more on the connection between Bermuda and Jamestown.