In What Way Does Shakespeare’s The Tempest Resist Traditional Genre Classification?

Usually, Shakespeare’s The Tempest is classified as a comedy. There are all the aspects pointing out at it, such as humorous situations and many misunderstandings that end up being clarified. A happy celebration of marriage at the end also aligns with it. However, some of the play’s scenes include tragic moments.

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It appears that it is not that easy to classify The Tempest since it may belong to three genres at the same time. The most obvious one is comedy. The audience has the pleasure of enjoying multiple humorous moments throughout the play. Trinculo, Stephano, and Caliban drinking and going on little adventures together are the central comic characters. Moreover, the story includes a lot of uncertain situations that lead to misunderstandings. However, by the end of The Tempest, all of them get resolved. Everyone is unharmed and reunited in the last scene, merrily celebrating Ferdinand and Miranda’s union. All of those aspects point out that the play is a comedy. 

Another genre is romance represented by the love between Prospero’s daughter and Ferdinand. At the same time, the audience finds it hard to miss the moments of suffering and loss. Prospero uses his powerful magic to create illusions and manipulate the characters. Even though no one actually dies in the play, many characters have to face emotional crises and anxieties. It also leads to a lot of murder plots which are, fortunately, unsuccessful. Besides, in the beginning, the royal party believes that the king’s son, along with some other crew members, are lost or dead. All that allows us to identify The Tempest as a tragedy that goes against the traditional genre classification. 

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