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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 22 January 2013
I bought the Kindle version of this great play to facilitate reading out loud in a group. But the erratic pagination, with the text suddenly broken by blocks of footnotes, often in the middle of a sentence, made me give up and return gratefully to a properly printed edition - albeit one with a much smaller typeface.
It is also extraordinary that the Acts and Scenes are not individually indexed in the table of contents. The whole play has but a single heading! To find your place you have to page through the whole text, or search for a key phrase. To have set this up properly would have meant but an hour or so of editing work. Not to have done so takes away one of the main benefits of an electronic version.
Similarly, the footnotes could surely have been better placed all together at the end with live links from the text. The way they are done at the moment is simply infuriating.
The impression I am getting is that Kindle editions are sometimes created carelessly by people who have no love of the text or concern about presentation. Or even, extraordinarily, awareness of the potential of the new medium.
Frankly, this was a complete waste of the admittedly modest amount of money it cost.
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VINE VOICEon 9 December 2008
I keep finding myself writing this at the moment: this is a wonderful work, but do think twice before buying this edition of the play, as if you need something to study, you'll be left rather high and dry here.

The other reviewer on this page has some trouble getting their head around why people get so excited about "The Tempest", and cannot see a clear "story" as in "Romeo and Juliet". But then, that's partly the point: that is an early play, sticking closely to its models and offering relatively little to doubt or to trouble the viewer. "The Tempest" may or may not be Shakespeare's last play (it seems to be the last play he wrote alone; he did collaborate on some other plays), but it is certainly a late work, written at a time when he was so well versed in what the theatre could do, and in the dramatic forms it had to offer, he seems almost to have pushed the boundaries of drama to their absolute limits. One sees here, three plots (at least) running simultaneously, with one central character, each one exploring different issues, and each one employing different dramatic methods. If one were to want an overview of the theatre in England at the beginning of the sixteenth century, one could do a lot worse than starting here.

"The Tempest" may be an odd play as far as its narrative goes, but it is wonderful in its poetry. It contains many glorious passages, sometimes coming from the mouths of the most unlikely characters, and for that reason it is worth reading.

The only reason I've not awarded this book five stars, though, is because this edition is not suited to all readers. Many students will find this very frustrating because there are next to no explanatory notes, and the provision of glosses is niggardly. If you're studying the play in any depth, you may well find a Cambridge, Arden or Oxford edition suits you better. If you want a chance to read the play in a cheap, disposable edition, this will do you well.
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on 20 November 2013
This is a brilliant edition of The Tempest, including the history of the play and its adaptations, complete with pictures. The actual script itself is superb - the play itself runs along one side of the page with various notes explaining the meanings of words and speeches, the way it should be delivered and on occasion the way the audience would have reacted. A brilliant version, essential for understanding The Tempest.
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on 18 February 2016
I purchased this purely as a pleasure read but it would also be perfect for someone to use a part of a school or university course. It has a very comprehensive introduction but I found the accompanying notes explaining the text very brief in some cases. Having said that this is a very 'readable' Shakespeare play and does not, in my opinion, require flicking back and forwards very much as the text and plot are easily understood. If someone wants to expand their knowledge of Shakespeare this is a very good play to start with and great value. Highly recommended.
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VINE VOICEon 7 May 2007
I recently went to see Patrick Stewart in an RSC production of The Tempest and thought I would buy a copy of the play to look again at some of the speeches. Although I'm a little way past GCSE level I found this Cambridge School edition provided clear presentation of the text, with the play displayed down the right hand side and study notes opposite.

However, the book's real selling point is the inclusion of wonderful colour and black and white photographs of various productions of The Tempest. Several of these are from The Globe Theatre, London so provide a glimpse of what Elizabethan theatre (probably) looked like.

On the downside, some of the further study suggestions are a little simple-minded ("Draw a theatre poster advertising The Tempest featuring Ariel") but overall this is an attractively-presented guide which implicitly steers students towards the idea that Shakespeare's plays were meant to be seen and heard rather than read.
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on 11 September 2015
This play worries me, frankly - was WS kicked out of the family home for being Caliban to one of his daughters? He went home to die after this, his last play, after many years of absence. It truly makes me uneasy & I don't rate it as one of his best.
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on 27 November 2015
The York Notes Advanced are helpful if you're struggling to understand the behaviour of some of Shakespeare's characters or the meaning behind certain references. These notes, along with David and Ben Crystal's 'Shakespeare's Words', really opened the play up for me.
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on 6 March 2016
Interesting introduction and a real bargain! A fascinating play that sparks a huge amount of discussion - Caliban, Prospero and Ariel all different facets of one character? The problems of conquest/empire...
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on 12 March 2016
“We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.”

The Tempest is a play by William Shakespeare, written between 1610–11. It is thought by many critics to be the last play that Shakespeare wrote alone. The sorcerer Prospero, rightful Duke of Milan and his daughter Miranda are stranded on an island with the deformed Caliban. A second shipwreck brings ashore the man of Miranda’s dreams. Prospero plots to restore his daughter Miranda to her rightful place. He uses illusion and skilful manipulation to conjure up a storm, the eponymous tempest. He does this to lure his usurping brother Antonio and the complicit King Alonso of Naples to the island. There, his scheming brings about the revelation of Antonio's lowly nature. It also redeems the King, and the brings about the marriage of Miranda to Alonso's son, Ferdinand.

The story draws on the tradition of the romance. This is a fictitious narrative set far away from ordinary life. Romances use themes such as the supernatural, wandering, exploration and discovery. They were often set in coastal regions, and featured exotic, fantastical locations. The also use themes of transgression and redemption, loss and retrieval, exile and reunion.

These are a few more themes I noticed when I watched and read the play.

The Illusion of Justice

The Tempest tells a straightforward story involving an unjust act. This is the usurpation of Prospero’s throne by his brother and his quest to restore himself to power. But, the idea of justice that the play works toward seems subjective. This idea represents the view of one character who controls the fate of all the other characters. Prospero’s idea of justice and injustice is somewhat hypocritical—though he is angry with his brother for taking his power, he has no qualms about enslaving Ariel and Caliban to achieve his ends. Because the play offers no notion of higher order or justice to supersede Prospero’s interpretation of events, the play is morally ambiguous.

By using magic and tricks that echo the special effects and spectacles of the theatre, Prospero persuades the other characters and the audience of the rightness of his case. As he does so, the ambiguities surrounding his methods resolve themselves. Prospero forgives his enemies, releases his slaves, and relinquishes his magic power, so that, at the end of the play, he is only an old man whose work has been responsible for all the audience’s pleasure. The establishment of Prospero’s idea of justice becomes less a commentary on justice in life than on the nature of morality in art.


Miranda and Prospero both have opposing views of Caliban’s humanity. They think that their education of him has lifted him from his brutish status. But they seem to see him as inherently brutish. His base nature can never be overcome by nurture. The play leaves the matter ambiguous. Caliban balances all his eloquent speeches, with degrading drunken, servile behaviour.


The uninhabited island presents the sense of possibility to almost everyone who lands there. Prospero has found it, in its isolation, an ideal place to school his daughter. Sycorax, Caliban’s mother, worked her magic. All these characters envision the island as a space of freedom and unrealized potential. Yet, while there are many representatives of the colonial impulse in the play, the colonized have only one representative: Caliban. We might develop sympathy for him at first, when Prospero seeks him out to abuse him. But this sympathy is made more difficult by his willingness to abase himself. Even as Caliban plots to kill one colonial master (Prospero) he sets up another (Stefano). The urge to rule and the urge to be ruled seem intertwined.

As for the book itself, at this price you can't go wrong, its a bargain. Supplement your reading by watching the play itself, then it'll all make much more sense.
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Many consider "The Tempest" to be the final play that Shakespeare wrote solo, which gives a certain bittersweet flavor to its story -- especially since the main character is a sorcerer who manipulates others to get the ending he desires. Shakespeare juggled a trio of main stories before tying them off in rare style, but it's Prospero and his final speech that are truly intriguing.

For many years, the exiled Duke of Milan Prospero has lived on a remote island with his young daughter Miranda. But when he discovers that his treacherous brother Antonio and his similarly treacherous friends are nearby on a sailing ship, he summons a storm that causes the ship to crash on the island.

And like a puppet-master, Prospero arranges this as he wants -- he sends his servant Ariel to haunt the men who betrayed him, he thwarts the machinations of his evil servant Caliban, and he pretends to treat Alonso's son Ferdinand badly while secretly matchmaking him with Miranda. In the end, everything will be as he desired.

"The Tempest" is a play with two different dimensions. On one hand, we have a simple story about a mage whose power allows him to manipulate everything in his little domain. And on the other, we have the story of a brilliant storyteller who arranges his own little worlds as he sees fit, and bids farewell to his role ("Now my charms are all o'erthrown/And what strength I have's mine own...")

And appreciated on its own, "The Tempest" is a brilliant play -- Shakespeare juggled the three main plotlines nicely, and brought a solid sense of resolution to the story. His rich dialogue is stunning ("But doth suffer a sea-change/Into something rich and strange/Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell..."), especially during Ariel's songs and Prospero's speeches. Even the insults are brilliant -- just try yelling "A pox o' your throat, you bawling, blasphemous, incharitable dog!" at someone you don't like.

Prospero is a rather unique character -- he rules over his little island with magical powers, sort of like a local demigod. Everything that happens on the island is because he wants it to be so, but he's a sad, benevolent figure rather than a tyrannical one. And Shakespeare sketches up an intriguing cast of characters, both mortal and immortal -- the ethereal, puckish Ariel and grotesque Caliban, the naive Miranda, and the contemptible trio of onetime conspirators.

"O brave new world, That has such people in't!" cries Miranda at the end of "The Tempest," and while not every character in it deserves a "brave new world," the play itself feels like a weekend trip into a magical world.
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