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An Exploration of the Themes of Power and Ownership in the Tempest

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An Exploration of 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. ...read more.


This gives Prospero the opportunity to achieve power in the state, In addition to the authority that he holds in Milan. Prospero plans to use his daughter's marriage to Ferdinand as a chance to elevate his own status, and to gain power in Naples. When Prospero is speaking to Ferdinand Shakespeare hints that Prospero is using his daughter to "make this contract grow". Instead of going back to Milan and regaining his title as Duke, Prospero desires more, and he creates his chance by the manipulation of Miranda. Prospero does not show any evidence to prove he is happy for the young couple, the entire time we see that the magician is thinking how the outcome of the event will benefit his own aspirations. Acts 1 scene 2 Prospero and Ariel. Shakespeare has shown the reader that Prospero uses his status to gain power over other characters in his relationships with them. For example, Ariel is a spirit that Prospero freed from the trunk of a tree whilst on the island. He did this so that the spirit could serve him, and help develop his art. The first time the reader sees the relationship between Ariel and Prospero, in Act 1 Scene 2 the spirit addresses Prospero as "great master", without being prompted by the magician. When calling Ariel, shortly beforehand Prospero calls "servant come! ...read more.


It seems strange that after so little time on the island, the relationships between the islanders are formed around the idea of power and ownership, and what they can do at the expense of their companions to benefit themselves. The characters still believe they have the same status and responsibilities on the island as they did when they were in Naples and Milan, all though there is no government and no dynasty where this can be reflected there is still a class system where this is enforced. The characters are not disturbed in the slightest by what has happened to them in the previous few hours, or what may happen to them in the next few. Shakespeare shows us that, because of their arrogance they believe they are still of the same significance on the island as back on the main land of Europe. They may never see Italy again but this does not cross the minds of the majority of islanders, and this is why Prospero is able to use power and ownership with such a significant effect in the Tempest, because he, as master and creator is able to focus on manipulating the other characters to provide him with what he wants. All the magicians' requirements are met by the other characters even though they are unaware of them doing so. Ashley Howe 12SMI English Lit. A/S Priest ...read more.

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