50 pages 1 hour read

William Shakespeare

The Tempest

Fiction | Play | Adult | Published in 1611

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Background

Literary Context

A Shakespeare play basically is a long poem written in blank iambic pentameter, or unrhymed lines of five “feet” of two syllables each, with accents on the second syllable of each foot (as: da-DUM, da-DUM, da-DUM, da-DUM, da-DUM). For example, when Prospero brags to Ferdinand about his daughter Miranda:

 

Do not smile at me that I boast her off,
For thou shalt find she will outstrip all praise (IV.1.9-10)

 

Readers can find the stresses in the lines like this:

 

Do NOT smile AT me THAT i BOAST her OFF,
for THOU shalt FIND she WILL outSTRIP all PRAISE.

 

The thing about iambic pentameter is that it sounds close to regular English speech. So even though it is carefully crafted, actors can recite their lines and still speak in a natural-sounding rhythm, even if their diction and syntax are very different from what modern audiences are used to.

 

A style of poetry and story-telling arose in France and Italy during the Middle Ages called blank verse, which is unrhymed iambic pentameter. English authors, especially Chaucer, adapted it into the form used by Shakespeare.

Related Titles

By William Shakespeare

Study Guide
logo

All's Well That Ends Well

William Shakespeare

All's Well That Ends Well

William Shakespeare

STUDY + TEACHING GUIDE
logo

A Midsummer Night's Dream

William Shakespeare

A Midsummer Night's Dream

William Shakespeare

Plot Summary
logo

Antony and Cleopatra

William Shakespeare

Antony and Cleopatra

William Shakespeare

STUDY + TEACHING GUIDE
logo

As You Like It

William Shakespeare

As You Like It

William Shakespeare

Plot Summary
logo

Coriolanus

William Shakespeare

Coriolanus

William Shakespeare

Plot Summary
logo

Cymbeline

William Shakespeare

Cymbeline

William Shakespeare

Study Guide
logo

Hamlet

William Shakespeare

Hamlet

William Shakespeare

Study Guide
logo

Henry IV, Part 1

William Shakespeare

Henry IV, Part 1

William Shakespeare

Plot Summary
logo

Henry IV, Part 2

William Shakespeare

Henry IV, Part 2

William Shakespeare

Study Guide
logo

Henry V

William Shakespeare

Henry V

William Shakespeare

Plot Summary
logo

Henry VIII

William Shakespeare

Henry VIII

William Shakespeare

Plot Summary
logo

Henry VI, Part 1

William Shakespeare

Henry VI, Part 1

William Shakespeare

Plot Summary
logo

Henry VI, Part 3

William Shakespeare

Henry VI, Part 3

William Shakespeare

STUDY + TEACHING GUIDE
logo

Julius Caesar

William Shakespeare

Julius Caesar

William Shakespeare

Plot Summary
logo

King John

William Shakespeare

King John

William Shakespeare

STUDY + TEACHING GUIDE
logo

King Lear

William Shakespeare

King Lear

William Shakespeare

Plot Summary
logo

Love's Labour's Lost

William Shakespeare

Love's Labour's Lost

William Shakespeare

STUDY + TEACHING GUIDE
logo

Macbeth

William Shakespeare

Macbeth

William Shakespeare

Study Guide
logo

Measure For Measure

William Shakespeare

Measure For Measure

William Shakespeare

STUDY + TEACHING GUIDE
logo

Much Ado About Nothing

William Shakespeare

Much Ado About Nothing

William Shakespeare