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

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

Extracts from this document...


"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.


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.


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.

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

    Nature vs. Art in The Tempest

    3 star(s)

    act has been completed, he is certain that he can renounce 'this rough magic' and it never will be needed again. Although Caliban is the key figure in the exploration of nature in the text, Gonzalo makes an eloquent attempt to improve the King's view of the island in Act II, Scene I; 'How lush and lusty the grass looks!

  2. Marked by a teacher

    What is your response to Shakespeare's presentation of Caliban in The Tempest?

    3 star(s)

    qualities o?th? isle: ? cursed by I that did so!? The word ?qualities? conveys that Caliban knows the island well, as though it is a holiday resort.

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

    This brings up the theme of political power and asks the question: 'Does Prospero desire power too much?' This shows that Prospero is not satisfied with his current power status on the island. Caliban is one of the main characters in The Tempest and will be on the stage often throughout the play.

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

    for stealing his rightful title as Duke of Milan; yet he seems to have no reservations with enslaving Ariel and Caliban. We see this motif of "servants" continue throughout the play, for example, the relationships between the powers held as a master and the influence upon his servant.

  1. Explore the theme of rightful authority in The Tempest

    To Caliban a union with the island's only eligible bachelor is entirely 'natural' and he is deserving of it. It is possible that if Caliban were shaped like Ferdinand he would be more accepted as a possibility for Miranda. Shakespeare presents the common belief that appearance was a measurement of

  2. Shakespeares 'The Tempest' as a Study of Colonialism.

    There is a difference in duties for rulers and subjects, a zest for learning, and emphasis on practical living, and the debate about the free will of man. Prospero's failure as a duke is the type of error people who lived in the Renaissance would take notice of.

  1. Consider how the language used by Shakespeare explores the theme of service versus freedom ...

    the form of Caliban, brings out the bestiality of this deformed brute In this scene Ariel uses address terms such as "master" and "lord", suggesting that she is wiling to appear servile it wins her freedom. Caliban, on the other hand, does not use one courteous term to of address;

  2. "The role of the teacher can often be a negative one" discuss…

    Furthermore, Prospero is obsessed with achieving revenge on the men that betrayed his trust, the same crime is scorns Caliban for. From a biblical perspective Prospero's obsession with revenge completely contradicts the Christian principle of forgiveness and fails the aphorism 'forgive and forget'.

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