Themes In The Tempest Essay

1333 words - 5 pages

Themes in the Tempest

 
  The Tempest is generally considered to be Shakespeare's last sole-authored play. The play draws a number of oppositions, some of which it dramatises, and some of which it only implies. Prospero, a figure exhibiting many resemblances to the Elizabethan idea of the 'Mage', (of whom the best known is probably Dr. John Dee), is opposed to both his corrupt brother, usurper of his role as Duke of Milan, and to Sycorax, an evil witch and mother of the 'deformed slave' Caliban. Sycorax does not enter the action of the play, having died before it opens, but enough is made of her evil disposition and behaviour to show Prospero as a model of human virtue in comparison. This despite Prospero's own use of magic to accomplish his will, and his bullying of the spirit Ariel and his threats to and punishments of Caliban. Prospero's role is central to the play, he is in control of the action throughout, through the exercise of his 'Art'. A further contast is drawn between Miranda, Prospero's daughter, and caliban. Bothe were brought up together by Prospero since his arrival on Caliban's Island, but Caliban has not responded suitably to Prospero's civilising education. Miranda, however, in line with the tenor of Shakespeare's late plays in particular, is a model of chastity and virtue. Caliban's 'ingratitude' would seem to result from what we would call his genetic inheritance. Miranda calls him

 

Abhorred slave

Which any print of goodness will not take (1:2:353-354) [FN1]

 

And Prospero

 

A devil, a born devil, on whose nature

Nurture can never stick; on whom my pains,

Humanely taken, all, all lost, quite lost. (4:1:188-190)

 

The opposition of nature and nurture is made explicitly here, a distinction which has had its cultural importance restated in new terms since Darwin and the revolution in genetic biology. The Tempest is involved in a discussion of 'nobility', seen here as a matter of inheritance, but in the opposition of Prospero and his brother Antonio we see that inheritance has two sides. Antonio betrayed Prospero and stole his inheritance (materially; his Dukedom), so virtue, 'nobility', is not entirely a matter of having noble parentage.

 

A further denotation of nobility, in line with fashionable Neo-Platonism is that the beautiful are good, and the ugly, wicked. This is explicit in Miranda's case, both in herself and in the attitudes she expresses:

 

There's nothing ill can dwell in such a temple:

If the ill spirit have so fair a house

Good things will strive to dwell with't. (1:2:460-462)

 

Caliban, on the other hand, is 'deformed', and described as a 'fish' and a 'monster'

 

As with age his body uglier grows,

So his mind cankers. (4:1:191-192)

 

It is not so simple, however. At this very point Prospero has sunk to a level not much above Caliban's:

 

I will plague them all

Even to roaring (4:1:192-193)

...

Find Another Essay On Themes in the Tempest

Natural Supernaturalism in The Tempest Essay

3942 words - 16 pages (or spiritual), they will never be able to reach the same level as God. Prospero clings to Ariel because he is closer to this level of magical godliness. The claim that The Tempest is without religious implications or ideas is false and unfounded. Those claiming this have not done their research. Religious themes and ideas are rampant and clear in the play. The mere fact that magic is involved, good or not, was enough for severe punishment under

Cultural Diversity in The Tempest Essay

1663 words - 7 pages Cultural Diversity in The Tempest        If we look at Shakespeare's atypically short play The Tempest, the character of Caliban represents a "noble savage" who is enslaved, exploited, and endowed with low-self esteem due to the ethnocentric views of those who encounter him.  In much the same way as the British originally exploited the Hindus or Americans exploited Native Americans, Caliban is considered the "property" of those who

Caliban in Shakespeare's The Tempest

1868 words - 7 pages Missing Works Cited The Tempest, considered by many to be Shakespeare’s farewell to the theatre, has of all his plays the most remarkable interpretive richness. The exceptional flexibility of Shakespeare’s stage is given particular prominence in The Tempest due to its originality and analytic potential, in particular in the presentation of one of his most renowned and disputed characters, Caliban. Superficially portrayed in the play as a most

The Utopian Solution in The Tempest

2600 words - 10 pages     The entrance of The Tempest into theatres between 1610 and 1611, signifies a possible correlation between Shakespeare's play and the colonization of the ideal New World. Before analyzing the courtly order and utopian theme in The Tempest, it is important to understand the politics and culture of the court in the early 17th century. The society that Shakespeare emerges from plays an important role in the themes portrayed in The Tempest

The Hidden Meaning in the Tempest

785 words - 3 pages Shakespeare’s The Tempest is similar to the colonization of the Americas because they both involve foreigners coming to natives land and enslave them: but they differed in that The Tempest, they enslave a native for a crime, whereas they just enslave the natives for work in the Americas, and Caliban was created as an allegory to the natives that Europeans were enslaving. There are too many similarities in The Tempest to the colonization of

The Oppression of Miranda in The Tempest

2094 words - 8 pages The Oppression of Miranda  in The Tempest                    Miranda's schooling in The Tempest shows the audience the conflicting arrangement white women in the Shakespearean drama as well as Shakespearean times are forced to act within.  Paul Brown points out that "the discourse of sexuality…offers the crucial nexus for the various domains of colonialist discourse" (208) and the conduct in Prospero manipulates his followers' sexuality is

Themes in The Crucible

1178 words - 5 pages Themes in The Crucible In the crucible Arthur Miller takes the chilling story of the Salem witch hunt in 1692 and combines it with the issues of McCarthyism in the 1950s. The play reflects Miller’s ideas and opinions about McCarthyism and what he thinks are the similarities to the Salem witch hunts. Proctor is the main character Millers uses to reflect the unfairness of the Salem and McCarthy trials and how the truth died in the 1950s

Importance of Language in Shakespeare's The Tempest

1866 words - 7 pages . Literary critic Maurice Hunt says, "Caliban's, Stephano's, and Trinculo's farcical interactions have artistic significance for major dramatic themes" (Hunt 64). The themes that Shakespeare implied in The Tempest are greatly debated and largely a matter of personal interpretation, but without implying themes he would have made the experience of viewing the play meaningless. Interestingly, the meaningless theme appears in a more recent novel, Aldous

The Theme of Colonialism in Shakespeare's Tempest

2640 words - 11 pages The Tempest, by Shakespeare, offers the reader a variety of themes. The one theme that stands out the most is that of colonialism. During the time of Shakespeare, many European countries such as Spain, France, and England, were expanding their borders by taking over less developed countries, referred to as colonies. During this time of exploitation, there was skepticism concerning the possible success of the colonies. While some scholars

Portrayal of Utopia in The Tempest

1683 words - 7 pages Portrayal of Utopia in The Tempest        In The Tempest, Shakespeare allows the audience to appreciate the possibilities of utopian society and whatever this may posses.  Being the good, and bad so that they can see that problems can arise in such a society. The Tempest can be thus seen as a window into the dimensions of utopian societies. While his characters take on the role of the leaders of the utopian societies, Shakespeare uses his

Art and Nature in Shakespeare's The Tempest

1151 words - 5 pages      Shakespeare is one of the greatest artists the human race has ever produced.  In the Tempest, he decides to determine which is more powerful – art or nature?  He symbolizes art through civilization and nature through man and his natural place on Earth.  Through the plot, Shakespeare reveals his own beliefs concerning which force is greater.  The Tempest shows the respectable differences between art and nature, but eventually concedes that

Similar Essays

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

Themes Of Forgiveness In The Tempest By William Shakespeare

753 words - 3 pages The Tempest has many themes including reconciliation and forgiveness However, while it is clear that the theme of forgiveness is the main theme of the play, what is up for debate is to what extent the author realizes this forgiveness. After reading the attitudes and actions of the major characters in the play, specifically Prospero, little, if any, true forgiveness and reconciliation is shown in The Tempest. A strong Christian

Miranda In The Tempest Essay

904 words - 4 pages In William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, there has been much debate on whether Miranda, the only female in the play, is a fully formed character or merely an object being used by the men of the play. William Shakespeare wrote in a time where men were considered the dominant sex and women were only used for reproduction and maternal purposes. In the Tempest men like Prospero and Antonio are shown in a position of power and strength, while Miranda is

Magic In The Tempest Essay

715 words - 3 pages The Tempest, written in 1611, was one of William Shakespeare's last plays. It has a combination of superb characters, interesting settings, and a good plot line--all held together by the running theme of magic, and its ever-present importance. A closer examination of the magic in The Tempest, and the public's view of magic at the time, will give insight as to Shakespeare's choice of magic as a theme, and why it has made the play so successful