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The Relationship Between Servants And Masters In The Tempest

1632 words - 7 pages

The Relationship Between Servants and Masters in The Tempest

Within "The Tempest" there are several accounts of different
relationships between various servants and masters. Many scenes
throughout the play are used to convey different messages concerning
each character involved, and reveal many things about them. The most
prominent cases of servants and masters are those involving Prospero.
He was shipwrecked on the island after being usurped from his title of
Duke of Milan. Since the savage Caliban attempted to rape his
daughter, Miranda, he seems determined to make life for him very
unpleasant. As well as Caliban, Prospero is also in control of Ariel -
a spirit whom he rescued from being tormented by an evil witch -
Sycorax, Caliban's Mother. Caliban also is within a second group
involving servants and masters, this time with Stephano and Trinculo,
two drunken servants within the King's court who's first encounter
with Caliban leads them to believe that they can use him to their
advantage in becoming

The opening scene of the play is one that displays an unusual set of
events concerning King Alonso and his lords, and crewmembers, who
would be regarded of a much lower status, giving orders to people
higher up than them. This is an odd relationship between servants and
masters at this time of crisis. The orders of higher-class men are
fickle and unnecessary; it is the skill of the lower class crewmembers
that takes precedence:

"Good boatswain have care… Play the men" and just asking: "where's the

The Boatswain, trying his best to regain control of the ship urges the
nobles to "keep below…. You mar our labour"

The naive upper class men, oblivious to the fact that the Boatswain is
desperately trying to maintain course, are extremely angered by his
commands. Gonzalo, the King's councillor manages to find some comfort
in the Boatswain:

"Methinks he hath no drowning mark upon him, his complexion is perfect
gallows… If he is not born to be hanged, our case is miserable

Gonzalo is furious with the Boatswain for giving orders to him and his
superiors and is certain that it is his destiny to be hanged.
Therefore by divine right they must safely return to land for him to
meet his fate. This is a peculiar relationship between these people of
differing status, and reflects the insecurity of the people with
higher status when their "lesser" peers give them orders or prove them
wrong. "


A similar example of where the master figure is angered by the servant
answering back or challenging orders is one involving Ariel and
Prospero, in Act 1 Scene 2. Ariel is weary from the work that Prospero
continues to assign him and expresses this to his master by saying:

"Is there more toil? Since thou dost give me...

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