I started reading William Shakespeare’s The Tempest today. It’s one of my old favorites—first it was a brilliantly illustrated comic book version that captured my fancy, and from there I went on to read the actual text of the play. As a teen, however, I must admit I found the text pretty dry.
Flash forward to today. Armed with an acquired appreciation for archaic language and some experience in reading it, I took a look at The Tempest and saw it through new eyes.
Dang, it’s good.
Somehow I always find myself amazed when I discover irony, humor, and romance within the writing of stories from hundreds of years ago. I just naturally expect the writing to be complex, wordy, somewhat proper, and devoid of any forms of romantic emotion. I can’t imagine how I came up with this presupposition, but I have it. It’s a good, thing, though, because I’m usually pleasantly surprised.
On the very first page of The Tempest, as I watched the magician Prospero share sharp, witty remarks with his amazingly intelligent teenage daughter, I did my same old double take. My first inclination is to wonder if someone translated the story into modern terms—but no, it’s all classic.
The wit and irony of Shakespeare’s conversations would rival the banter in today’s summer blockbuster movies. And the romantic fervor in the few words of his passages compares to entire novels filled with warm fuzziness.
For right now, my favorite quote of the evening fell from the lips of young Miranda, as she gazed upon the third man she had ever seen in her life. The first she ever fell in love with.
“I might call him a thing divine…for nothing natural I ever saw so noble.”