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Analysis

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 350

There are many different retellings of Shakespeare's plays. Some have been successful while others have flopped. Hag-Seed seems to be one of the few that has done overwhelmingly well. Hag-Seed is the story of a play inside a play. The overarching plot is a classic rendition of The Tempest. It is the story of betrayal and revenge. The play inside the play is also a version of The Tempest. The Prospero of the story is Felix, an artistic director of an art festival who is staging his own take on The Tempest. His archenemy, Tony, cancels his performance and he lives in solitude in Southern Ontario for twelve years. He finally takes a position as an instructor for a prisoner rehabilitation program. It’s through his play that he is able to take his revenge on Tony. Atwood aptly adapts a play written in the 1600s to modern times. While there is much that is different from Shakespeare’s plot line, Atwood stays true to the emotion it evokes and characterization of Prospero/Felix and Antonio/Tony. Felix, like Prospero, is relatable in his mourning. While Prospero mourned the loss of his wife, Felix mourns the loss of his daughter. Furthermore, Atwood uses ghosts, also commonly referenced in Shakespearean plays. Felix is haunted by the ghost of his daughter. It is only when he is convinced that he hears her voice that he determines he must engage with the outside world. In addition, Atwood remains true to the plot development of Shakespeare. Shakespeare is famously known for his complicated structural use of a play inside a play. Atwood differs from Shakespeare in her description of the “storm.” There is no literal storm in her renditions of The Tempest. Instead, the storm is the chaos that ensues between characters. Unlike Shakespeare, Atwood also allows Felix to be free at the end of the story. He is set free from mourning his daughter and begins to plan cruises. Meanwhile, the inmates he used in his revenge plot remain imprisoned. The stark contrast between him and the other characters can be heavily critiqued.

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