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"Explore the presentation of authority and inferiority in 'The Tempest'"

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Introduction

"Explore the presentation of authority and inferiority in 'The Tempest'" Shakespeare has staged a play that explores the human hierarchy of the Elizabethan era. At the time dominance of one person over another was part of a system, which kept the society going. The social hierarchy consisted of the educated, kings, bishops, lords and noble men at the top of the hierarchy, with the working class peasants at the bottom. Everyone had a fixed status in society. However this is all physically displaced on the island, as there is no social structure and it is uninhabited and tropical. Shakespeare sets his plays mainly in Italy; however in 'The Tempest' he has placed a group of civilised people into an unshaped and uncivilised society. In a way he has challenged the view that such a hierarchy works on a wild island. 'The Tempest' is seen to be a play that Shakespeare aimed at the arrogant King James I. Instead of supporting the king's views of being 'God' he staged something that presented power as unpredictable and easily lost. In fact, by challenging the Elizabethan hierarchy Shakespeare has given an indirect warning of the dangers that may face the king. Nevertheless, we know that even on the island there is a hierarchy, which comprises of Prospero being superior and Caliban being inferior. ...read more.

Middle

Though Caliban is perceived as a horrid animal, he shows some understanding of language when he starts talking about the island in verse "the isle is full of noises, Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not." The change in speech shows that even Caliban has some understanding, one so deep with the love of the island that it makes him say no bad word about it and instead describes the beauty and tranquillity. This also shows that Caliban is not completely a monster. This links in with the boatswain even though he is not very educated, he knows the norms and values of the society that he lives in; however he is seen to be of a lower status than most. But his knowledge of how to control the boat amongst the storm gives him an upper hand. Authority is often related to knowledge an example of this in the play is Prospero and Caliban. 'The Tempest' shows how Prospero uses worldly knowledge to his advantage as he manipulates Caliban into telling him all the secrets of the island, in return for the education of language. Straight away we can tell that there are different types of knowledge, one of the natural habitats that one lives in and the other of people and the society they live in. ...read more.

Conclusion

Also Ariel has allowed Prospero to be superior to him as he is more powerful than Prospero. However he is not manipulative enough to hold the power she has over Prospero. Instead she shows a type of childlike eagerness when doing tasks as if she gets a thrill from performing and being complemented by Prospero for doing so. Overall we are shown how authority is very unstable and unrealistic it holds ultimately very little power. The ranking one has in society does not prove anything, as there are many inferior characters, that maybe in some cases a lot more superior to those who do have an authoritative status. Authority is a key theme in the play; Shakespeare has achieved to get an indirect message not only to the king but to people also. In a way the play shows how, no matter if you are an authoritative figure or an inferior one they both have the same amount of difficulties. Just because the rich hide them better doesn't mean there not there nor are they any better than the common people. As we see how cunning and manipulative the rich and educated are, and whether it is there education that earns them the right to have a status that they do. Bushra Din ...read more.

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