Cambridge IGCSE English Literature Exam Questions on the Tempest

In the exam on The Tempest, you will be given a choice of questions about a specific character, a theme or an extract. For the character question, you need to have good understanding of that character including: their relationships with the others – the difference between what they say, and what they do. Comment on differing interpretations of that character as well as which themes they’re linked to and parallels with other characters.

For example: Stephano and Trinculo are used as a ludicrous counterpart to (a) Prospero’s authority – as master of Caliban and (b) ‘civilization’ as well as (c) European fantasies of moral superiority over conquered peoples.

Miranda and Ferdinand‘s romance is a version of the traditional fairytale / myth where the prince must perform a series of tasks to win the hand of the fair maiden, where his devotion, bravery and strength of character are tested.

Here are some questions on theme:

The Tempest is a critique of what we think of as civilization. Civilization – and the problems with it – are one of the major themes of the Tempest. This is linked to power and authority as well as master – servant relationships.

What does The Tempest tell us about power? Explore the ways in which Shakespeare portrays power and authority.

The Tempest is a comedy of chaos, magic and misrule.
The Tempest supports the idea of strong, benevolent government.
Which of the two statements above do you think is more accurate. Explain with reasons.

What do we learn about colonialism in The Tempest?

Miranda is a weak character. Discuss. (Ferdinand is weaker, imo).

Why is Prospero’s character so interesting? Yes, this is an actual, EVIL question from the good people at the Cambridge IGCSE board.

Prospero is a controlling, tyrannical man.
Prospero is a kindly god-like figure.
Which of these views do you agree with. Explain and give evidence.

The so-called civilized characters are far worse than the ‘uncivilized’ Caliban. Discuss.

How does Shakespeare use (any of the characters) to bring out the themes of the play. Discuss.

How does Shakespeare make this scene amusing but also deeply serious?

The Tempest at the start of the play is a symbol of the chaos to come. Explore the use of ‘chaos and misrule’ in the play.