The Tempest And Antigone Essay

1436 words - 6 pages

In William Shakespeare’s The Tempest and in Sophocles’ Antigone, both authors explore and illustrate the differences between “human law” and “higher law”. The two authors have different opinions about those laws. In The Tempest, Prospero uses his magic to manipulate various characters, and he often uses his magic to follow the plot of the story by his own way. Prospero uses his magic for total control over the people on the island where he lives. In Antigone, Creon, the King of Thebes, uses his title to manipulate others that kills Haemon and Antigone. Though the ending is more tragic in Creon’s control than in Prospero’s, by the end of Creon’s manipulation, the Greek Gods destroys Thebes. Regardless of the differences between the plays, both have different views of “human law” and “higher law”. Through the character and the setting development of the story in both plays, it is obvious that Shakespeare favors “human law” and Sophocles favors “higher law”.
In Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the focus throughout the story is on the “human law” as Prospero is seen as a manipulator. Near the beginning of the play, Prospero enslaves Caliban, and he obeys Prospero all the time when Prospero orders him to do so. After Prospero gives instructions what to do, Caliban says in an aside that, “[He] must obey. [Prospero’s] art is of such power/ It would control [his] dam’s god, Setebos, / And make a vassal of [Setebos]” (Shakespeare I.ii.448-450). When Prospero threatens Caliban that he, “would control [Caliban’s] dam’s god, Setebos” (Shakespeare I.ii.449), making Prospero more powerful than the gods. Prospero’s actions prove that he is the top of the Great Chain of Being. Thus, Shakespeare use of indirect characterization demonstrates to the audience that Prospero is a controllable, powerful person. Later on in the play, Prospero has total control over Alonso and his friends, and in an aside, he says “My high charms/ work/ And these my enemies all knit up/ In their distractions. They now are in my power” (Shakespeare III.iii.107-110). Since Prospero’s plans are working the way he intends to, the audience sees that Shakespeare agrees with the “human law”. Prospero’s enemies are “knit up” (Shakespeare III.iii.109) and he uses that distraction to control Alonso and others. Thus, conveying the “human law” is stronger than “higher law” as Prospero’s magic has the ability to change any circumstances. Prospero uses his magic to force events to stop such as the masque between Miranda and Ferdinand. Prospero sadly explains to Ferdinand that, “[Their] revels now are end[ing]. These [their] actors, / As [Prospero] fore[tells] [Ferdinand], [are] all spirits and/ are melt[ing] into air” (Shakespeare IV.i.165-167). Shakespeare makes it clear that “human law” can ruin only one person, Prospero, and he has the control to continue manipulating others, or to stop. It conveys that Prospero’s law, despite it is “human law”, is comparable only to spirits and therefore the “higher...

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