During a wonderful visit with my sister (who has now returned to what she called “The Land of Stuff”) we were in London to see Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” at the Globe Theatre.
I’m embarrassed to say that I truly understood the play for the first time in my life. Admittedly, I was an adolescent the last time I bothered with what I thought was a pretty ridiculous story about magic and good and bad spirits lined up to help the good and bad guys marooned on an island with a one-dimensional romance thrown in to keep the audience sufficiently optimistic.
Out of curiosity, I went on the internet to see if it was still presented in the stilted fashion in which I was first introduced to the story. I’m afraid I think it is. At least the SparkNotes version is.
I’d love to have a chance to introduce this play to adolescents today. Prospero’s “magic” and his books could represent any kind of power today – money, modern weapons, terrorism, the ability to make war. The challenge of the play is to understand first why Prospero is so legitimately angry – robbed of his position and cast away to die at sea with his young daughter as his sole companion.
And then to understand why Prospero decides to forgive.
That’s the great challenge: to understand why forgiving is more creative, more constructive, more life-giving for Prospero and those he loves than is the revenge which after twelve years he can at last execute. Yet he chooses to forgive instead.
For me “The Tempest” raised the whole question of modern warfare again. However legitimate our grievances, the price of war is huge. It’s not enough to say our anger is legitimate.
We must find other ways to bring peace to this world.