Themes Of Power In The Tempest

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William Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Measure for Measure are very similar in that they both raise controversial questions, mostly focusing on the theme of power. Shakespeare displays many forms of power in different ways through Prospero in The Tempest and through the Duke in Measure for Measure. These forms of power include the power of love, the desire for power amongst men, the power of an authority over his subjects, and the power of magic(Prospero) and of manipulation(the Duke). The purpose of this paper is to address the problematic relationship between power and the intention of the major characters to teach others a lesson, albeit with different tactics.
Measure for Measure, mainly through the characters Angelo and the Duke, addresses
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At this stage, it is more appropriate to shed some light on another main character Angelo. After having obtained some power, he, too, seems to use his power to his own advantage. During his talk with Isabella, he somehow becomes sexually attracted to him. He asks her to sacrifice her virginity for her brother’s life. She, of course, refuses and when she threatens to humiliate him publicly, Angelo says: Who will believe thee, Isabel? My unsoil 'd name, th ' austereness of my life, My vouch against you, and my place i ' th ' state, Will so your accusation overweigh. That you shall stifle in your own report. And smell of calumny" (II. iii. 164-169). With his current position of power, he relies on his reputation too much and misuses his power to satisfy his lust by taking advantage of a woman in such a desperate state. Meanwhile, contrary to his claims that he has departed for a foreign land, the Duke has disguised as a friar, eavesdropping and spying on others to see the real face of Angelo and coming up with his own plans to clear the mess he is now creating. Pretending to be a friar, he listens to others’ secret confessions that he has no right to have an access to, he then lets Claudio down saying that there will be no salvation for him, and drags Isabella further into despair by hiding her brother. He explains his motivation with these words: “To make her heavenly conforts of despair/ When it is least expected” (IV.iii.106-7) Godlike, he manifests his absolute power. Through his disguise, he persuades Isabella to go along with his plan to have Mariana go to bed with Angelo instead of herself. Even though she reacts sharply against losing her virginity, she is fine with having another woman do so. The Duke is clearly manipulating others and even changing their long- held respectable beliefs. Towards the end of the play, when the Duke returns in his real clothes and everyone is about to get measure for measure, he pretends to have heard, seen and learnt nothing. By
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