Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 319
A central theme in the story is revenge. Felix has been wronged by Tony when his play is canceled at the art festival. Felix spends years devastated and sets his eyes on revenge. The opportunity appears when he becomes an instructor at a prison rehabilitation theater program. Here he convinces the prisoners to put on his version of The Tempest. Local politicians are invited to see the progress of the prisoners. Tony has been climbing the ranks since stealing Felix’s position at the art festival. He is now a politician and attends Felix’s latest performance. As part of the play, Felix has the prisoners fake a prison riot. During the fake riot Felix records Tony plotting to murder a fellow politician. Felix then uses the footage as blackmail and gets his old job back.
Felix is made relatable through his mourning of his daughter, Miranda. Miranda passed away years ago unexpectedly at the age of three. Felix has been in mourning ever since and has attached his grief to the play, The Tempest. He planned to perform at the art festival in her memory. When the play is canceled he is trapped in his own grief. He retreats to his lonely, rural home and sees her ghost. He is only able to let go of her when he puts his play on in the prison.
The nature of the art industry is essentially another theme. Atwood adapts this Shakespearean play written in the 1600s to a modern day scenario where a creative mind is hopelessly conned out of his own job. Atwood shares a side of the art industry that is ugly and competitive. Tony is a heartless villain who is willing to take down the dreams of others, in order to climb his own career ladder. While Felix’s intentions are at first artistically pure, once he is wronged, he too uses art to seek revenge.