The Themes Of Power And Ownership In The Tempest

2138 words - 9 pages

The Themes of Power and Ownership in the Tempest

Ownership is a dominant and ever present theme in the Tempest; almost
every character in the play is involved with the theme of ownership in
the play. They are either the more dominant, or the one who is
dominated in the relationship. Ownership is present right from the
beginning of the play, as we see that Prospero creates a storm to
shipwreck Gonzalo and his men, this immediately shows us that Prospero
is a powerful character in the play, later when he is talking to
Miranda we find out what makes her father the Powerful man that he is.
Although the characters have become dislocated on the island there is
still a sense of dynastic power. There are no laws on the island, and
there is no government but the characters themselves create a level of
communal normality. The different sets of characters’ relationships
with each other play a significant part in the theme of ownership;
there are the characters that were shipwrecked such as, Sebastian,
Antonio, and Gonzalo. The characters that have been marooned on the
island for many years (Prospero and Miranda), and the characters that
have been on the island long before Prospero and Miranda were isolated
there like Ariel and Caliban. These set of characters hold onto their
alliances with the people they know best. It is soon apparent when
looking at the text which are the dominant, and powerful characters
and who are the weaker characters.

Act 1 scene 2 Prospero and Miranda

Shakespeare soon makes it clear to the audience that Prospero is the
most dominant character in the relationship between the magician and
Miranda. It is evident that Miranda has more respect for her father
than he seems to have for his daughter. Prospero is talking to his
daughter about the time that he was the Duke of Milan, and how he was
banished to the island after he retired his title to focus on his art.
Prospero refers to his magic as an art where his can become “rapt in
secret studies.” Prospero began practicing black magic whilst he was
the Duke.

Miranda soon becomes uninterested with what her father is saying and
she drifts off into her own thoughts. Prospero quickly orders Miranda
to “Obey and be attentive”. From this Shakespeare shows the reader
that Prospero is a powerful character; at this stage in the text
Shakespeare shows the reader that the relationship between Prospero
and Miranda is based around power, and not love. This is obvious, as
Prospero is demanding his daughter understands he is powerful and that
she realises his status. Prospero continues to give orders as if he is
still the Duke of Milan; his mind set is that of a commanding
individual. Throughout the scene Miranda seems to have a problem
listening to her father, this time Prospero tells her to “mark me” as
she drifts off again....

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