The Tempest Essay

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In Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Prospero is a learned sorcerer and has dominion over the Mediterranean island and his two servants, Caliban and Ariel. For Caliban, offspring of the witch Sycorax servitude is natural, for he does not understand the concept of freedom. Prospero enslaves Caliban and keeps him overpowered using magic frighten him or subdue him. Ariel is in thrall to Prospero, who rescued him from the “cloven pine” (1.2.330) to which he was imprisoned by the witch Sycorax. Both characters similar in title however dissimilar in their affects through the play.
Although Caliban appears as “A freckled whelp, hag-born not honoured with/ A human shape” (1.2.336-337) and “he smells like a fish – a very ancient/ and fishlike smell” (2.2.26-27). …show more content…

Despite this elevated status, Ariel is obedient to his “noble master” (1.2.357). The use of ‘sir and ‘master’ by Ariel to address Prospero provides evidence for Prospero’s authority and power over his subject. Ariel appears to be indebted to Prospero, a fact emphasized to the audience by his exaggerated language. Shakespeare’s use of hyperbole to force the ideas that Ariel serves Prospero is highly effective. For example, “All hail, great master! Grave sir, hail! I come/ To answer thy best pleasure” (1.2.224-225); portray Ariel almost as a sycophant to his master, desperate to appease him. This is continually reinforced throughout the play, with Ariel’s responses to Prospero’s questions becoming increasingly elaborate – “Not a hair perished. On their sustaining garments not a blemish” (258-259), is Ariel’s response when Prospero asks him whether all those who were entrapped in the tempest are still …show more content…

Although Caliban appears to be nothing more than a vile slave, his complexity of language is comparable to that of Prospero. Caliban directs his accusations toward Prospero, claiming, “You taught me language, and profit on’t/ Is I know how to curse. The red plague rid you/ For learning me your language!” (1.2.437-439). Caliban, who has acquired Prospero’s tongue, lashes out his frustrations in a poetic verse. Caliban’s mouth has become a channel through which Prospero vents his frustration for the injustices and pains he has endured. Caliban complains that he was his “own king” until Prospero [stied him]/ In this hard rock” and denied him “the rest o’th’island” (409-411). Prospero, who was denied access to his dukedom, could very well have used Caliban rhetoric in protest. Yet Prospero who purports to be “A prince of power” (68) would rather disguise his inner vulnerability. He tells Miranda, “[Antonio] whom next thyself/ Of all the world I loved (86-87). Prospero’s calloused appearance belies his true sensitivity and affliction from being betrayed by his brother, whom he loved dearly. Caliban’s irate language is therefore a representation of the discontentment that Prospero cannot express himself. He serves as the incarnation of Prospero’s own hatred and darkness

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