The Tempest is a play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1610–11. It is set on a remote island, where the sorcerer Prospero, rightful Duke of Milan, plots to restore his daughter Miranda to her rightful place using illusion and skillful manipulation. The play is widely regarded as one of Shakespeare’s last great works and is often seen as an allegory for European colonialism.
The story begins with Prospero and Miranda on an enchanted island. Prospero has been exiled there by his brother Antonio, who has usurped Prospero’s title as Duke of Milan. Twelve years earlier, Prospero was deposed in a coup and expelled from Italy with Miranda; he has since conjured up a storm, or tempest, to shipwreck his enemies on the island. The play opens with Prospero’s soliloquy about his past and present sufferings, as well as his plans for revenge.
The next scene shows Miranda and Ferdinand, the son of King Alonso of Naples, Shipwrecked on the island. Miranda is immediately enchanted by Ferdinand, while Prospero keeps him hidden away. The King and his courtiers are also stranded on the island, and are soon met by Ariel, a spirit who serves Prospero. Ariel tells Prospero that he will release them from the island if they repent their wrongdoings.
Ferdinand and Miranda eventually meet and fall in love, despite Prospero’s efforts to keep them apart. The two couples are wed in a secret ceremony, but Prospero’s plans for revenge are still in motion. He raises a storm that shipwrecks Antonio and the remaining courtiers on the island.
Prospero forgives everyone except Antonio, and eventually all are returned to their rightful place. The play ends with a celebration of marriage and reconciliation.
Shakespeare’s society had distinct degrees of categorization back in his day, with some men being deemed “superior” to others. Shakespeare gives us a taste of this hierarchical culture in The Tempest, showing how “superior” types regarded themselves against lesser beings owing to their race, financial status, and gender. We also see individuals who thought they had good grounds to be superior but who treated others equally and with the respect they deserved.
The Tempest is a story that has something for everyone, and can teach us all a lesson or two about the way we view others. While The Tempest may be one of Shakespeare’s lesser known plays, it is certainly not lacking in intrigue or lessons to be learned.
The play tells the story of Prospero, Duke of Milan, who is usurped by his brother Antonio and left to die on a remote island. Prospero’s daughter Miranda is also stranded on the island, along with Alonso, King of Naples, and his son Ferdinand. The play focuses on the relationships between these characters as they are forced to interact with one another in order to survive.
One of the most important themes in The Tempest is the idea of hierarchy. Throughout the play, Prospero and Miranda are shown to be of a higher class than the other characters. This is evident in the way they speak, the clothes they wear, and the manner in which they carry themselves. The other characters are well aware of their own place in the hierarchy, and often defer to Prospero and Miranda out of respect.
While The Tempest is set in a time when hierarchy was an important part of society, Shakespeare also shows us that not all “superior” people were deserving of their position. Antonio is a perfect example of this. He is Prospero’s brother, and as such should have looked out for him. Instead, he betrayed Prospero and took his rightful place as Duke of Milan. Alonso is another example of someone who does not deserve his position. He is the King of Naples, but he is shown to be a weak and foolish man.
Despite their different positions in the hierarchy, Prospero and Miranda treat all of the other characters with respect. They realize that everyone has their own story and their own reasons for being on the island. This is in contrast to Antonio and Alonso, who view the other characters as inferior and treat them accordingly.
We observe that Caliban is treated as a lesser being because he is not of the same race as Prospero and Miranda. Prospero describes him as “a freckled whelp hag-born – not entrusted with a human form.” Clearly, people from different races were considered less than humans in Shakespeare’s time. Because someone is different, they are perceived to be less than human in this society.
The Tempest is a play about power. Prospero has the power to control nature and he uses this power to enslave Caliban. He sees Caliban as a primitive creature who is not able to understand language or culture. Prospero’s treatment of Caliban reflects the way in which Europeans treated indigenous people in the colonies. The Europeans saw themselves as superior to the people they colonized. They believed that they were bringing civilization to these “savages.”
Prospero’s daughter, Miranda, is also a victim of his abuse of power. She is forced to live on an island with no one but her father for company. She has never seen another human being before the shipwrecked sailors wash ashore. Miranda is a symbol of the innocence of the colonized people. She is natural and good, in contrast to the evil Caliban.
The financial status of a person also has an impact on social hierarchy. Dukes and Earls, who were among the aristocracy, were thought to be superior to other people of their own race during The Tempest’s time. Servants and commoners worked for the nobles.
Shakespeare provides us with an illustration of this in his characters’ interactions with each other as Sebastian, Antonio, and the Boatswain discuss about his boatswain and the sailors. “A curse on your throat, you bawling blasphemous incharitable dog!” exclaims Sebastian at the sailors (I, i , 39-40), implying that they are inferior beings who exist only to serve him.
The Boatswain in turn, calls Sebastian and Antonio,” The ship is on fire, my lord, / And you and I must perish” (I,I,61-62). The nobles are not only shown to be of a higher social class, but they are also harsh and unsympathetic to those beneath them.
Even though The Tempest is set on an island and the characters are marooned there, they still maintain the same social ranking that they had before. Prospero is Duke of Milan and Miranda is his daughter; Ferdinand is the son of the king of Naples. When these two meet and fall in love, it reinforces the idea that social class does not change who you are, or at least it did not during Shakespeare’s time.
The play also makes the point that people in positions of power abuse their authority. Prospero has enslaved Caliban, who was the rightful owner of the island before Prospero arrived, and he treats him cruelly. In addition, Prospero keeps Miranda ignorant of the world beyond the island so that she will be easier to control.
The Tempest is a story about social class, but it is also about race. Caliban is described as a “savage” and a “monster” because he is not white. He is portrayed as bestial and less than human. The other characters are afraid of him and think that he is going to hurt them. This is an example of how racism was used to justify the mistreatment of people who were considered to be inferior.
The play is also about power and how it can be abused. Prospero has the ability to control the weather and to cast spells. He uses his powers to enslave Caliban and to manipulate the other characters. He is a potent symbol of the way that those in positions of power can abuse their authority.
The Tempest is a complex play that touches on many important themes. It is a story about social class, race, and power, and how they can be used to oppress others. The play shows us the importance of understanding and empathizing with those who are different from us. It is a timeless classic that is as relevant today as it was when it was first written.