• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Explore how Shakespeare presents the theme of power in "The Tempest"

Extracts from this document...


Explore how Shakespeare presents the theme of power in "The Tempest" In "The Tempest", power manifests itself in many different forms. Three of the main types of power that Shakespeare explores are the power of love, the power of magic and illusion and the power of a master over his slave. He presents these forms of power in a number of ways. In "The Tempest" Prospero appears to hold the majority of the power. He maintains his control over other characters in various ways, for example he uses the power of love to influence his daughter Miranda. Miranda is devoted to her father, and Prospero uses guilt to maintain this. In their first conversation, Prospero's power over Miranda becomes apparent. She says "Alack, what trouble/Was I then to you!" and it is clear that because of the guilt she feels, she will be willing to do anything for him. It is evident that Miranda is aware of how powerful Prospero is, as she says "Had I been any god of power, I would/ Have sunk the sea within the earth". This indicates that she understands the extent of Prospero's power, and that if she had possessed the same amount of power, she would use it differently to her father. ...read more.


Prospero could be blamed for Caliban's demise into savagery, calling him "Abhorred slave" and treating him with disrespect. Caliban is often rebellious towards Prospero, refusing to do what he is asked. This is similar to the beginning of the play, in which the Boatswain, who is usually subject to power from authority, is controlling those on the boat, subverting the master-slave presentation of power. He says, "You mar our labour. Keep your cabins" and when Gonzalo says, "remember whom thou hast aboard" the Boatswain replies "None that I love more than myself". Whereas he usually submits to the power of Alonso, the king, he reverses this and takes control. Another example of this subversion of power is when Stephano and Trinculo, who are also servants to the king, convince Caliban that they are his masters. They use alcohol to gain power over him, Stephano saying, "Open your mouth. Here is that which will give language to you, cat" and are amused by Caliban, calling him "monster" and laughing when Caliban says, "I'll kiss thy foot". Caliban believes that they will able to free him from Prospero's control over him, singing, "No more dams I'll make for fish... Cacaliban/ Has a new master, get a new man". ...read more.


He often only uses his powers to show off, and it is questionable as to how powerful he would be without magic, and the willingness of his servants, Ariel and Caliban, to comply with his demands. After all, it is Ariel who conjures the tempest at the start of the play, and as Prospero says about Caliban "We cannot miss him. He does our fire/ Fetch our wood, and serves in offices/ That profit us". Prospero needs Ariel and Caliban in order to have power, and so throughout "The Tempest", contrary to our beliefs at the beginning of the play, we begin to see that the main protagonist of power within "The Tempest" is not, in fact, Prospero. Shakespeare presents many kinds of power in "The Tempest". He demonstrates the control that Prospero has over Miranda using love, and also different kinds of power between master and slave. Sometimes the master and slave power is subverted, such as at the beginning of the play, when the boatswain takes control. Shakespeare also presents a change in the balance of Prospero's power. The main reason Prospero has so much power is due to his magic, however at the end of the play he sacrifices his powers and sets free his slaves, Ariel and Caliban. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level The Tempest section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level The Tempest essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    How does Shakespeare ensure that the theme of usurpation and its consequences runs throughout ...

    3 star(s)

    Caliban may want to usurp Prospero because Caliban resents Prospero because he believes that the island really belongs to him and not Prospero. When Caliban first came across Prospero and his daughter he showed them where to find all the things they would need to survive.

  2. Discuss the presentation and significance of Caliban in 'The Tempest'

    He is insultingly referred to as a 'tortoise' a 'fish' and a 'beast' "What have we here? A man or a fish?" (Act 2 Scene 2, L24) However the people who describe him in these terms are people who have enslaved him so will naturally use negative terms to describe him.

  1. Discuss the character of Caliban and his relationship with Prospero

    Caliban plotting to murder Prospero is a prime example. He did it because of hatred for Prospero. This is a mystical and unpredictable island that seems to have an effect on everyone on the island. People seem to make ill-considered and irrational decisions.

  2. Explore the relationship between servants and masters in 'The Tempest'.

    Caliban is in a similar situation to Ariel. He too is a servant to Prospero however their relationship is somewhat different. While Ariel is trying to gain independence from Prospero, one could argue that he is relatively happy and comfortable under his command.

  1. How far do you agree that The Tempest is a play about the use ...

    Through from lines 30-175 he begins his story with an initial demand to restore order and supremacy over the uninspired Miranda, "Obey and be attentive!" (48) Another notable exploit of magical power Prospero uses is controlling his daughter via putting her asleep to avoid any confrontation with her, which could

  2. The Tempest- The Significance of the love story between Ferdinand and Miranda in the ...

    romantic but Miranda doesn't "beat about the bush", not because she's stupid but perhaps because she lacks common courtesy of how a woman was thought to be, "shy", and not as upfront, because she was not brought up in a society to learn these common attitudes of how women behave and speak.

  1. Presentation of Prospero in the Tempest

    This is echoed at different stages of the play, where Prospero lingers in the background, unnoticed by others but fully aware of what is happening. Shakespeare also highlights Prospero's power through stagecraft as Prospero is usually central to the proceedings in the play.

  2. Character study of Prospero

    Another negative point in the relationship between Prospero and Ariel is seen when Prospero promises Ariel freedom but almost at a price. "Thou shalt be as free As mountain winds. But then exactly do All points of my command." This is negative because although Prospero promises freedom he has still

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work