Shakespeare's last drama begins with a great storm. The sky and the sea are in tumult. Eventually, the castaways of a ship are saved by a small island. But it isn't any old island: the magician Prospero pulls the strings. The storm is Prospero's doing. As the former Duke of Milan, he had realised too late that his brother Antonio had been plotting to overthrow him, intending to gain sole power over Milan. Antonio's plot worked, and Prospero was expelled from the royal court. He makes the island to which he is exiled with his daughter, Miranda, his own. For twelve years, father and daughter live on the island together with their slave and a native of the island, Caliban, and the spirit Ariel.
A opportunity for revenge arises. With Ariel's help, Prospero succeeds in orchestrating a storm that throws a passing ship bearing his enemies off course, stranding it on the island. The castaways Alonso, King of Naples, and his retinue, Alonso's son Ferdinand and Antonio, are separated. They wander around the strange island, haunted by ghosts and strange creatures, believing each other dead. Naturally, Ferdinand falls in love with Miranda, and a joyous betrothal follows… Also part of the plan orchestrated by Prospero and his spirit, Ariel: "Let them be haunted soundly. At this hour lies at my mercy all mine enemies. Shortly shall my labors end, and thou shalt have the air at freedom."
The Tempest, a visionary comedy by William Shakespeares (1564–1616), is his final and most poetic play. There is scope for endless interpretation. Through his alter ego Prospero, Shakespeare takes leave of the stage. The Tempest is a fantastical dystopian fairy tale, a political parable, a revenge drama, a romance, a philosophical treatise, a metaphysical metamorphosis poem and a colonial drama all at once. It tells the story of tension between nature and civilisation, of the fundaments of just rule, of self-discipline and sublimation, renunciation and competition. Ultimately, this Shakespearean drama remains an open, contradictory text that does not lend itself to clear categorisation, perhaps even consciously refusing it.