Portrayal of Utopia in The Tempest
In The Tempest, Shakespeare allows the audience to appreciate the possibilities of utopian society and whatever this may posses. Being the good, and bad so that they can see that problems can arise in such a society. The Tempest can be thus seen as a window into the dimensions of utopian societies. While his characters take on the role of the leaders of the utopian societies, Shakespeare uses his creation to portray the social questions and beliefs of society of how a utopian environment should be.
Essential to the discussion of this aspect of The Tempest is the definition of a "Utopia". For different characters this "utopia" means different things. First of all and maybe most important of all, as it is she who says it, Miranda's utopia consists of a populated world with many other human beings in it. This can be seen as created by the way she has been kept in relative isolation due to her father’s action. Human beings, in whatever forms they come in are a fascination for her, and something that she longs to see. Other characters on the other hand have a whole manner of different ideas of utopia and versions of their "utopia". Caliban's utopia changes throughout the play and Gonzalo's utopia seems somewhat confusing as he has two ideas which seem to contradict each other. What is underlined here is that the view of Utopia does not remain stagnant, it is a constant changing process depending on one’s life experiences and points of view.
More specifically Prospero's utopia is a reflection of what society at that time believed to be a utopia. This being an easy existence, void of manual labor, with all of their time spent on the pursuit of greater knowledge and example of the hold of The Enlightenment period fuelled by scientists such as Galileo and philosophers such as Locke, Hobbes and Descartes.
However simultaneously the view of Antonio's utopia is the picture of evil. His own evil intentions and deceitful gain of power fuelled by ego centric views, were what people of that time would have labeled a dystopia, the opposite of a utopia.
Specifically referring to Miranda's utopia we can see how she takes a rather naïve view on what a Utopian society should hold. As aforementioned all her life she has been isolated on the island seeing no-one but her father as well as his slaves Ariel and Caliban, and therefore upon seeing other beings she is amazed and overcome by her new discovery. In seeing the demise of the ship she claims ‘Had I been any God of power, I would have sunk the sea within earth or ere’, this isolates her desperation in saving something so magical and indeed alien to her. In the closing scene Miranda also exclaims rather naively; ‘How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world/That has such people in’t’. The irony is fuelled by how this whole scenario has not been based on truth or scientific discovery as fuelled by Enlightenment debate but...