Key themes

Shaking hands signifying empathy and forgiveness, a bird for freedom and a plant for nature verses nurture.

There are many ideas and concepts that run through The Tempest. Depending on your reading of the text, you might think one or another is more significant. For example, in recent years critics have examined how Caliban might represent colonised people, even though Shakespeare was writing long before the world of empire building had begun.

You could also say that this is a play about love in its different forms – parental, romantic, brotherly, aesthetic. The themes are often connected and you will notice links between many of the key ideas.

Some of the main themes include:

  • freedom
  • empathy and forgiveness
  • nature versus nurture