Why is The Tempest a tragicomedy

Summary of The storm

Magic and belief in witches under Jacob I.

Shakespeare Storm was under the reign of King James I. (English James) premiered on the English throne in 1603 as the successor to the childless queen Elizabeth I. mounted. King James I, son of the Queen of Scotland Mary Queen of Scots, ruled at the same time as Jacob VI. of Scotland and introduced the term "Great Britain" for the union of the two kingdoms, to which he also gave a common flag with the Union Jack. However, he did not succeed in actually uniting the two countries. James I had great problems with the influence of parliament on the affairs of government. The parliamentarians' will to participate in decision-making was in contradiction to his idea of ​​a God-willed kingship. In 1605 he and the parliament escaped the so-called gunpowder conspiracy, in which English Catholics wanted to blow up the parliament and the royal family. In 1622 the king dissolved parliament himself after there were differences over his son's marriage plans.

Jacob I was very interested in the supernatural and in witchcraft. This interest was probably rooted in his visit to Denmark in 1589 Anna of Denmark as his wife, whereupon the two got caught in a violent storm at sea. This storm was the work of witches, claimed the initiators of the North Berwick witch trials, which took place in the Scottish coastal town in 1590 and in the course of which more than 100 alleged witches were tortured and killed. Jacob I even took over the questioning of the main suspects himself. In 1597 the king wrote a book with the title Daemonology and then tightened witch legislation in England and Scotland. Shakespeare Storm not only reminds of the experiences of Jacob I with his storm, the belief in the supernatural and sorcery is also echoed in it.


Shakespeare wrote that Storm probably in the years 1610/11. There is evidence of a performance in the palace of Whitehall before King James I on November 1, 1611 and another one and a half years later on the occasion of the wedding of Jacob's daughter Elisabeth. The sources are diverse. The subject of the deposition of a duke is in Prospero History of Italy of William Thomas to find. Montaignes essay Of the canibals in the English translation of 1603 was taken over from Shakespeare in parts. An important source also appears William StracheysA True Reportory of the Wracke, and Redemption of Sir Thomas Gates Knight To be: This is an eyewitness account that describes how the flagship of the Virginia Company, the "Sea Venture", fell into a storm en route to Virginia in 1609, almost sank and stranded in the Bermuda Islands. The Bermudas were discovered as early as 1503 and were considered Devil's Islands due to the many reefs; they were an ideal projection surface for belief in ghosts and seaman's thread. Although The storm is one of the last plays by Shakespeare, it is the first work in the folio print edition of 1623. The editors thus accorded the drama a special place.

Impact history

The effect of drama on film, literature and music was and is astonishingly diverse. Certainly the best known is the use of Miranda's exclamation in the fifth act ("How beautiful humanity is! O beautiful, new world that carries such beings!") As the title of the novel Aldous Huxley (Beautiful new world, 1932). The American science fiction writer Tad Williams told in his novel The island of the magician (2005) the story from the perspective of the monster Caliban. Ludwig van Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 17 in D minor (1802) was nicknamed "Sturm" because the composer is said to have once mentioned that one should read Shakespeare's drama if one wanted to understand the piece. PeterTchaikovsky turned the drama into one Fantasy after Shakespeare for orchestra (1873). For various modern operas, the drama became the basis of the libretto, for example for The magic island of Heinrich Sutermeister (1942), The storm of Frank Martin (1956) and The Tempest of Thomas Adès (2004). The film adaptation is also famous Prospero's books (1991) by Peter Greenaway.

The piece has even made its mark in modern musicals: it came in 2011 Storm with compositions by Heinz Rudolf Kunze premiered in the Herrenhauser Gardens near Hanover. A current film adaptation of Julie Taymor from 2010 brought the play largely true to the text on the screen - but made the magician Prospero into a woman: this “Prospera” is owned by the British Oscar winner HelenMirren embodied. The banning of acting in some schools in the American state of Arizona seems almost bizarre: The play was put on the index in the Tucson School District in 2012 and banned from the classrooms. because the issues of race and oppression are at the center of the drama.