Art And Nature In Shakespeare's The Tempest

1151 words - 5 pages

   Shakespeare is one of the greatest artists the human race has ever produced.  In the Tempest, he decides to determine which is more powerful – art or nature?  He symbolizes art through civilization and nature through man and his natural place on Earth.  Through the plot, Shakespeare reveals his own beliefs concerning which force is greater.  The Tempest shows the respectable differences between art and nature, but eventually concedes that art is weaker and must bend itself to nature.

In The Tempest, Shakespeare’s Prospero has gotten himself into trouble by entertaining an insatiable thirst for knowledge.  Prospero’s downfall was brought about because he valued knowledge and art over pure power.  Through Prospero, Shakespeare questions the validity of man’s quest for art and beauty.  However, the question is resolved in the end of the play when Prospero once again becomes a Duke, doing so through art.  In this, Shakespeare shows that art is in fact useful.  In the beginning, art is questioned, but in the end it proves to be Prospero’s most powerful saving grace, all the while ultimately bowing to nature. 

Shakespeare presents the influences of both nature and art throughout the play, ultimately with nature prevailing.  The tempest he creates in the first act, the anchor that sets into motion the events of the play, is wholly dependent on nature's own capacities.  Ariel stirs up the winds and sea to frighten the crew and passengers.  "The fire and Cracks/Of sulfurous roaring the most mighty Neptune/Seem to besiege, and make his bold waves tremble;/Yea, his dread trident shake" (Tempest, 48).  This act causes the boat to stray off its course and allow Prospero to pursue his goals.  By beginning the play with an act of nature, Shakespeare makes a subtle affirmation of the strength of nature.  Furthermore, Prospero's dependency upon Ariel to execute his artful commands demonstrates that art's will is dependent upon nature's execution.  Ariel represents the "fluid elements of water and air and also those bodiless energies of nature that strike us as 'spiritual'" (Intro to Tempest, xxv).  Although Prospero is the mastermind of the events, without Ariel his wishes cannot be actualized.  Thus Ariel is also a force of nature upon which art is dependent.

            Nature is also represented in The Tempest through the character of Caliban.  Caliban is a unique creation, one upon which nurture is lost.  Caliban is a savage being, incapable of reason or any of the developed and refined characteristics which art represents.  He is in essence the polar opposite of the refined Prospero.  Caliban's name itself may be an anagram for cannibal, a term used commonly for the savage population of the New World.  It is clear that Caliban has no sense of virtue, not only because he is not completely human due to the union that brought about his existence, but also because he has not been affected by art.   A closer examination shows Shakespeare...

Find Another Essay On Art and Nature in Shakespeare's The Tempest

Apparitions and the Supernatural in Shakespeare's The Tempest

2326 words - 9 pages     What immediately strikes the audience about The Tempest is the use of the supernatural in the form of apparitions like Ariel and the Harpy. These apparitions are under Prospero's authority and the result of his Art, which is the disciplined use of virtuous knowledge. By invoking a masque to celebrate the betrothal of Ferdinand and Miranda, Prospero effectively brings to full circle the theme of re-generation by obliterating the evil done

Romance and Anti-Romance in Shakespeare's The Tempest

2201 words - 9 pages a sort of dramatic illusion for the audience. In the book, Time, Tide, and Tempest, Douglas L. Peterson states: As an imitation of an action The Tempest combines precept with example. It creates dramatic illusion out of the improbable events of romance to the very purpose which Prospero within the play creates illusion: it holds up to nature a mirror that reveals "truths" which in the author's view man must "see feelingly" if he is to be

Resolutions of Forgiveness, Repentance and Reconciliation in Shakespeare's The Tempest

1423 words - 6 pages Stephen Orgel, in the Oxford World Classics Introduction of The Tempest, says that the resolutions of forgiveness, repentance and reconciliation through the harmony of marriage that Prospero has undertaken to achieve are not completely met. This is true as not all injuries are forgiven, and certain characters fail to repent for their wrongs. The marriage does not completely achieve its role of reconciliation, as we have to question its origins

Importance of Language in Shakespeare's The Tempest

1866 words - 7 pages authors evaluate Shakespeare's play The Tempest to be a romance with a "comic subplot", and thereby show how important the interpretation of the language and interaction is in finding meaning in the play. Literary critic Richard Hillman says that, in general, romantic dramas are characterized by their fantasy-like atmosphere with love as the main focus or concern of the play, and they usually exhibit a complete disregard for normal or

European Colonization in Shakespeare's The Tempest

1306 words - 5 pages No Critique of European Colonization in The Tempest    Since the 1960s, several critics have found a critique of colonialism in their respective readings of Shakespeare's The Tempest. The most radical of these analyses takes Prospero to be a European invader of the magical but primitive land that he comes to rule, using his superior knowledge to enslave its original inhabitants, most notably Caliban, and forcing them to do his bidding

Prospero’s Loss in Shakespeare's The Tempest

2061 words - 8 pages Prospero’s Loss in The Tempest     Shakespeare’s The Tempest is a play about loss - more specifically, Prospero’s loss. Prospero is a tragic hero, in a sense, because he makes the transition from having everything to having nothing. He loses his daughter. He brings his enemies under his power only to eventually lose control and release them. In the end, he gives up his influence on the world – including his incredible power over nature

Conquering Nature: Magic in the Tempest

1214 words - 5 pages , and one who Queen Elizabeth herself kept on staff was Dr. John Dee (Woolley). John Dee was also known as a magus, a title given to someone who was considered a master magician or adept in astrology, alchemy, or sorcery (Melton). Evidence for this cultural preoccupation with magic during the Elizabethan period can be found in many of William Shakespeare’s plays, including his final work, The Tempest, which was written between 1610 and 1611

Importance of Environment in Shakespeare's The Tempest

2000 words - 8 pages begins with a tempest which invokes explicitly all four elements in their uproars, G. Wilson Knight has shown how constant the "tempest" idea and symbolism is in Shakespeare's thought: the movements of the cruel, ruthless, raging sea are frequently a symbol of the passions and emotions of men. It is Prospero's responsibility then as creator of the tempest to initiate change amongst the men under his rule; he has to bring disorder to order, storm to

Defending Prospero in Shakespeare's The Tempest

1796 words - 7 pages Defending Prospero in The Tempest      In William Shakespeare's The Tempest, the character of Prospero brings about a great deal of debate. Modern literary critics are quick to use him as a poster child for English colonial practice in the sixteenth and seventeenth century. Many see him as person who desires complete control of everything around him from the fish-like monster Caliban to his spirit servant Ariel, even his own daughter

The Theme of Colonialism in Shakespeare's Tempest

2640 words - 11 pages . Similarly, the colonists would do the same when they colonize a new land. They would take over whatever land they see and use nature as they see fit, such as exploiting resources and cutting forests to make way for farmland. In A Tempest by Aime Cesaire, the author takes a more literal approach in reflecting the colonial aspects of the play by depicting the characters Gonzalo and Sebastian as true colonists, who reflect on the financial gains they can

Mothers in William Shakespeare's The Tempest

2268 words - 9 pages Mothers in William Shakespeare's The Tempest Although Miranda’s mother and Sycorax never actually appear in The Tempest, their memories occupy a precarious position in Prospero’s will to power. Prospero invokes the memory of Miranda’s mother to legitimize his lineage, yet feels threatened by the control she exerts over it. His narration deftly erases his wife’s presence from Miranda’s memory, rendering him the sole purveyor of his

Similar Essays

Tempnature Art Vs. Nature In Shakespeare's The Tempest

1295 words - 5 pages Art vs. Nature in The Tempest    The debate between Art and Nature in The Tempest is very much based on the Renaissance debate, on whether “civilized man” or the "natural man" was superior. The advocates of  “civilized man” presenting the "natural man" as being savage, intemperate and brutal in contrast to the nobility, self-control and high-mindedness of the  “civilized man”. The advocates of "natural man" presenting him as what

Opposition Between Art And Reality In Shakespeare's The Tempest

1181 words - 5 pages Opposition between Art and Reality in The Tempest       The Tempest is a self-reflexive play that explores the boundaries of art and reality. Shakespeare's island is a realm controlled by the artist figure; where the fabulous, the ideal and the imaginative are presented as both illusory and palpable, and where the audience is held in an indeterminate state, a "strange repose". The juxtaposition of the world of art with political and

Caliban In Shakespeare's The Tempest Essay

1868 words - 7 pages Shakespeare had read, and indeed quoted from Michel de Montaigne’s ‘Of Cannibals’ where it is argued that the customs of natives were not barbarous or uncivilised, merely different. Post – colonial interpretations of The Tempest appear to view Caliban in a similar light. Caliban’s wonderful grasp and description of his surroundings does not suggest evil, rather his words imply a true innocence. Caliban is not a monster and so should not be presented as such, he is simply bare, unimproved nature, an example of humanity at its rawest form.

Women In Elizabethan England And Shakespeare's Miranda In The Tempest

3502 words - 14 pages Women in Elizabethan England and Shakespeare's Miranda in The Tempest Treatment of women has evolved much since Elizabethan England. As a preface to the dissection of The Tempest – in particular, the character of Miranda, Shakespeare’s role for women as a whole must be addressed. According to Carolyn Ruth Swift Lenz’s introduction of Woman’s Part, “patriarchal order takes different forms and is portrayed with varying degrees of emphasis