The Tempest is a tragic comedy because there are elements of both tragedy and comedy in the story.
Tragedy in literature comes from unfortunate events befalling the characters, either through no fault of their own or as a result of their actions. Generally, in a tragedy, the audience identifies with characters that are experiencing difficulties. Before the beginning of the play, tragedy befell Prospero when his position was usurped by his brother. More tragedy happens when the people on the boat hit the tempest and land on the island. Even though the play ends in a good place for many of the characters, it takes tragic circumstances to arrive there.
Comedy, by modern day's standards, is amusing. It's something that can make the audience laugh and defy situational expectations. For example, Caliban throws himself toward Stephano as his new master and says things like "Let me lick thy shoe." Even though Caliban is a tragic character, he can still provide humor depending on the production....
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