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Issues Of Power And Control Are Evident From The Start Of The Play. To What Extent Do You Find The Truth Of This Statement Reflected In Acts I & Ii Of 'the Tempest'?

1076 words - 4 pages

An oddity amongst the works of William Shakespeare, his final individual work; ‘The Tempest’ explores a relatively unknown side to Shakespeare’s imagination, the fantastical, unfair and unreasonable world of magic, spirits and unworldly abilities. Through this play, written in 1611, toward the end of Shakespeare’s career, the writer clearly displays his confidence in his standing within the world of literature. He uses several risky techniques throughout this play, however somehow still keeps the interest of the audience while conveying all information, whether necessary or not. In this way Shakespeare displays his power and control over his use of the English language as well as introducing the audience to this uncharted territory of his imagination.
From the very start of the play Shakespeare presents the audience with the magical power of Prospero. Act I scene i of ‘The Tempest’ begins with a rapid, exciting scene, illustrating the title as ‘the storm.’ This brings about the arrival of Prospero’s brother, the usurping Duke of Milan as well as many of his fellows through the sinking of their ship and them being washed ashore. Using his power of magic Prospero commands the spirit, Ariel to conjure up this storm, but to leave the sailors and travellers alive. His power is highlighted by his daughter Miranda; “If by your art, my dearest father, you have put the wild waters in this roar, allay them,” demonstrating his control over all elements, the spirit of the air, the waves, as Miranda shows her character of such empathy; “O, I have suffered with those that I saw suffer.” However Prospero grows tired of her questioning his motives for raising the storms and with the words; “Thou art inclined to sleep...thou canst not choose,” and Miranda sleeps. This abusive use of his magical power does not endear Prospero to the audience, presenting what would appear to be the world’s most controlling father and his dictator-like power over the island. A very significant and disturbing quality of Prospero, his magic appears to be used as a means to his own benefits, primarily for revenge and suffering. However he also appears to use this power for, although manipulative, good means. He questions, “But are they, Ariel, safe?” showing what would seems to be compassion for those in the ship wreck, but this is possibly just for consideration of his daughters empathy as well as ensuring his enemies are brought to him alive. This is reinforced by him using his magic in regards to the first meeting of Miranda and Ferdinand. Having never set eyes upon a young man such as Ferdinand before Miranda is unsure of his nature; “What is’t? A spirit?” emphasising Prospero’s protective nature and the isolation of her life on the island. Using his powers Prospero causes Miranda to fall instantly for Ferdinand; “I might call him a thing divine, for nothing natural I ever saw so noble.” This would seem unnecessary hastle for Prospero, however it may yet to be seen if it is in aid...

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