The Tempest Essay

1565 words - 7 pages

In Shakespeare’s The Tempest, in Act 5 Scene 1, lines 33-57, Prospero’s speech shows his redemption by giving up his book, the oak tree, and his power over water. At this point in the play, Prospero is about to get his revenge on the people who have caused him pain. However, as he is giving the soliloquy, he seeks redemption and attempts to reject his powers and revenge. Though he has been living for the past twelve years with wrath and a desire for revenge, he turns away from that path and seeks to become a better person. Shakespeare shows the complete reversal of Prospero’s character through the breaking or giving up of things that are symbolic of his power.
As a form of redemption, ...view middle of the document...

Earlier in the passage, Prospero mentioned how great he was because created an eclipse and tempest but now he realizes he was manipulating nature. To give up his powers, Prospero states “I’ll drown my book” (Act V. Scene 1. 57). What Prospero meant by “drown” was “to suffer death by submersion in water”, he compares his book to a person, as if it was a living thing (OED). This shows how important his book is to him, since he spent nearly half his life trying to perfect the magic, and losing his dukedom for it. But it was all for nothing, because he realized that his magic was doing more harm than good. He redeems himself by drowning his book, resulting in giving up his powers as a form of redemption.
The magnitude of Prospero’s power manifests from his books which he uses to control nature. When Prospero addresses the “demi- puppets” he is illustrating the power that he has over the spirits. (Act V. Scene 1. 36) In this sense, the word “puppets” refers to “a person whose actions are controlled by some other agency.” (OED) Prospero’s ability to control nature comes from his connection to these spirits. This is indicated when he states “by whose aid/ I have bedimmed/ the noontide sun,” (Act V. Scene 1. 42). With the help of the spirits, Prospero was able to create a solar eclipse, a rare event, showing how much power Prospero has over nature. The eclipse also represent Prospero’s heart. Just like the moon blocks out the sun in a solar eclipse, Prospero’s desire for revenge blinded him to the truth. However, just like eclipses are temporary and fleeting, Prospero returns to normal when he realizes he would be a better person for giving up his plans of revenge. Shakespeare uses words such as “azured vault”, “green sea”, “mutinous winds” and “rattling thunder”, to represent the tempest (Act V. Scene 1. 43-44). Each phrase represents at least one element of nature, “azured vault” represents the sky, “green sea” represents the ocean, “mutinous winds” represents air, and “rattling thunder” refers to lightening. This shows how much control Prospero has over nature and also the immense inner turmoil that Prospero faced when he was exiled. The book’s magic powers bonds Prospero and the spirits, which gives him control nature. By giving up the book, Prospero shows how much power he is willing to sacrifice. He has the ability to control nature in numerous ways, but gives it up when he desires redemption.
The destruction of Jove’s oak tree is a foreshadowing of Ariel’s freedom because of Prospero’s need for redemption. Prospero states “Have I given fire, and rifted Jove’s stout oak” (Act V. Scene 1. 45). The word “Jove” means a “poetical equivalent of Jupiter, name of the highest deity of the ancient Romans”, but it could also represent Sycorax, Caliban’s mother (OED). When Shakespeare compares Jove to Sycorax, it does not necessarily mean that Sycorax was a high deity or had divine power, in fact, she was a very powerful witch that was exiled because of her...

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