Do you think Shakespeare wrote this play to please or to teach?

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accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I always think that Shakespeare wrote his plays with a number of different objectives in mind. Certainly, his livelihood depended on writing plays that would please, but also he seems to use them to teach and to explore a number of different issues that were going on during his day. This play, for example, obviously relates to the relationship between the new and old world and the rapid expansion of European colonialism at the time.

malibrarian's profile pic

malibrarian | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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Just to clarify - Do you mean to please an audience or the king, James I at the time?  I can see how this is one of his most "entertaining" plays, at least in our modern mentality.  It's a fanciful tale of shipwreck survivors, airy sprites, a bitter magician who finally is able to forgive his brother, and the love between a beautiful girl and a noble young man.  It is definitely one of his most entertaining plays.

There is speculation amongst Shakespearean scholars that his portrayal of Caliban had to do with the exploration and settlements of the New World and the natives that were encountered and eventually subdued.  I suppose there is a point to that, but I'm not convinced that that was Shakespeare's purpose in writing this play.  It was one of his last plays before retiring, and it could be that he was looking to do one that would remain in the minds of his audience as magical and otherworldly, as opposed to his tragedies, histories, and even his Italian and Greek comedies.

Another interesting thought is that Shakespeare wrote Prospero as a representation of himself - of Shakespeare at the end of his career, disposing of his magical powers as Prospero does at the end of the play.  Maybe it was Shakespeare's goodbye to the stage?

Great question - I love speculating on what the Bard was thinking and what was important to him in writing his plays.

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sasa77 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

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I think that Shakespeare motive with this play is both to entertain and to convey moral virtues.

But at the same time, it's as if he wanted to make a hymne to the art of staging (having several time plays within the play). Maybe a farewell?

crescent's profile pic

crescent | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

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Thank you for replying .

I meant to the audinece . When this question was asked in class there was silence except for 2 answers .First,is that forgiveness is a virtue .Second, is that no matter how much time has passed your will pay for old deeds (like in Case of Alonso and Antonio).

I think that Shakespeare wrote this play to please not to teach some moral lesson . Of course he was effected by the New World in his time and you can see that in the case of Prospero and Caliban relation .

I would like to read more responses ,what do you guys think ?

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