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Explore the roles of Ariel and Caliban in The Tempest.

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Introduction

Explore the roles of Ariel and Caliban in The Tempest The Tempest is a play written by William Shakespeare and is based on an event that actually happened in 1609. A great storm engulfed the flagship of nine ships that had set out to establish the colony of Virginia. This ship was driven against Bermuda and everyone mourned over the loss of one hundred and fifty people. However the colonists survived and the following year the ships reached Virginia. Ariel is Prospero's willing servant. Ariel uses magic to perform tasks and hence is believed by people to be a part of Prospero's imagination. Although Caliban is similar to Ariel by the fact he is slave, his roles vary greatly from completing physical tasks for his master to being a victim of colonization. Rebellion occurred on the island just like in the play: Caliban: ' Having first seized his books, or with a log Batter his skull, or paunch him with a stake', This sub-plot of the play expresses Caliban's role in The Tempest of how he up sets the normal balance of power. Caliban tries to upset the 'master-slave' relationship he has with Prospero, as he believes the island was stolen from him. ...read more.

Middle

This both prevents prospero from the indignity of ever actually conjuring, and endows Ariel with great powers and responsibility. Prospero seems to love Ariel as he speaks to him affectionately: 'Brave spirit' 'delicate Ariel' However Prospero's affection soon turns to anger when Ariel asks for his freedom. Prospero turns to Ariel abusing him and threatening to punish him. Ariel apologises and promises to be good in the future. I believe their relationship is more father and child then that of a master and slave. When Prospero is angry, Ariel becomes sullen and apologetic. Assuming this a father child relationship, Prospero is an old fashioned father, expecting instant obedience and punishing any disobedience. Ariel role in the play is to work for Prospero and she does this with her magical powers of changing shape: Prospero: 'go make thyself like a nymph o' the sea' In Jacobean England everyone knew most of the ancient myths and so Shakespeare includes these in his plays. In Greek myths nymphs were the personification of various nature objects like rivers, trees or lakes. This shows the supernatural powers that Ariel has as she uses it when Prospero asks. ...read more.

Conclusion

Unlike Caliban, Ariel plays the role of the willing servant, in order to get what he wants. Ariel and Prospero are affectionate towards each other, but this does not hide the fact that Ariel is Prospero's slave. His manner being happy and eager to please reflects his childish nature. I believe Ariel and Prospero reflect father child relationship, as when Prospero is affectionate, Ariel is happy and eager to please. Unlike Ariel Caliban's role is to act as a contrast to the other characters, as he has a natural violence when he plots against Prospero while Antonio shows civilised evil as he tries to kill the King. Caliban's role as a noble savage shows us he loves the island, and his language tells us the most haunting poetry in the play. Ariel's roles are to provide prospero with magical powers but I believe she also teaches him compassion and this hence allows him to forgive his enemies. In conclusion Ariel and Caliban are similar yet contrasting characters Shakespeare uses them together to reinforce the theme of master servant relationship to the audience. While Caliban is used only to reinforce theme of colonialism, Ariel's role in the play maybe less significant to Calibans, but she is still vital to the plot. By Steven Barker ...read more.

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