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Exploring Shakespeare's Presentation Of The Theme Of Power In The Tempest

1968 words - 8 pages

Exploring Shakespeare's Presentation of the Theme of Power in The Tempest

In 'The Tempest', power manifests itself in many different forms.
Three of the main types of power that Shakespeare explores are the
power of love, the power of magic and illusion and the power of a
master over his slave. He presents these forms of power in a number of

In 'The Tempest' Prospero appears to hold the majority of the power.
He maintains his control over other characters in various ways, for
example he uses the power of love to influence his daughter Miranda.
Miranda is devoted to her father, and Prospero uses guilt to maintain
this. In their first conversation, Prospero?s power over Miranda
becomes apparent. She says ?Alack, what trouble/Was I then to you!?
and it is clear that because of the guilt she feels, she will be
willing to do anything for him. It is evident that Miranda is aware of
how powerful Prospero is, as she says ?Had I been any god of power, I
would/ Have sunk the sea within the earth?. This indicates that she
understands the extent of Prospero?s power, and that if she had
possessed the same amount of power, she would use it differently to
her father.

Prospero is manipulative, appearing self-pitying by saying ?When I
have decked the sea with drops full salt/ Under my burthen groaned?
but also egotistical, saying, ?Have I, thy schoolmaster, made thee
more profit/ Than other princesses can? to which Miranda responds
?Heaven thank you for?t!? Although he tries to cause Miranda to feel
sympathy towards him in order to keep control of her, he also wants
her to admire him.

Although he also has power over Miranda using love, he also has power
over a different form of love, namely romantic love. He orchestrates
the meeting of Miranda and Ferdinand deliberately, presuming that they
will fall in love. Although Prospero forbade Miranda from telling
Ferdinand her name, he knew that they would inevitably fall in love.
He does not want Miranda to appear as a prize that can be easily won,
saying ?I must uneasy make, lest too light winning/ Make the prize
light? and he instigates his authority by creating rules for Miranda
and also treating Ferdinand as he would a slave, ordering him to
?Come! I?ll manacle thy neck and feet together?.

Although Ferdinand is a prince, he must bow to Prospero?s authority,
similarly to the characters of Ariel and Caliban. Prospero has control
over his slave Ariel, whom he controls by the promise of freedom. This
type of master-slave power is a dominant form of power within ?The
Tempest?. Ariel is a spirit who is, similarly to Miranda, devoted to
Prospero. He says to Prospero ?All hail, great master, great sir,
hail!? The repetition makes it seem dramatic and joyful, emphasising
Ariel?s devotion to Prospero, and the fact that he will do...

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