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

Explore the ways Shakespeare presents ideas of society in 'The Tempest'

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Explore the ways Shakespeare presents ideas of society in 'The Tempest' 'The Tempest' was Shakespeare's last play written alone. He used it to express his thoughts on the structure of society, albeit through using certain characters as a mouthpiece. These characters include Gonzalo and Prospero. To begin with, the society on the island consists only of Prospero, Miranda, Caliban and the spirits, which only appear to Prospero. One theme in the play is the idea of usurpation, which is shown several times throughout. One of Caliban's reasons for hating Prospero is his idea that Prospero usurped him as ruler of the island. This is made clear as early as Act 1 Scene 2, when Caliban says "This island's mine, by Sycorax my mother, which thou tak'st from me". Antonio also usurped Prospero as Duke of Milan, Stephano wishes to be "king of th' isle" and Sebastian plots to kill Alonso to become King of Naples. On the island, it seems that all social restraints are removed. Antonio and Sebastian would never have dared to plot to murder Alonso back in Italy. The anonymity of the island means that the characters' genuine feelings are shown, rather than hidden. ...read more.

Middle

This is shown by the way in which he tells Miranda by delayed exposition that "those (his magic) being all my study, I cast government upon my brother". This quotation implies that Prospero knows he paved the way for his brother to take over. It also shows that he now knows he was a neglectful leader, which shows some humility, perhaps meaning that his character has changed since being marooned on the island. Gonzalo muses on creating a commonwealth on the island, with "no sovreignty", in the presence of the King of Naples. This is quite startling in its outspokeness, and starts to disabuse us of the notion that Gonzalo is just a kindly old fool. This gives us another parallel between Shakespeare and Gonzalo, as Gonzalo voices his commonwealth idea in front of the king, and Shakespeare is sending this message out in front of an audience that could very likely have included royalty. Also, I believe that Prospero presents some ideas of society too. He is a very dominant character, speaking the epilogue, which is unusual for a main character in a Shakespeare play. Prospero manipulates the characters and shapes the story, and is almost always totally in control. ...read more.

Conclusion

The way he rules on the island could, therefore be likened to the way we are told he ruled in Milan, where although it was actually him that was the Duke, his brother ruled the country. This idea of society that Prospero has created on the island is that of a single all-powerful ruler. Prospero is eager to return to Naples and the rigid social structure of Italian high society. I believe that this is because the small, relaxed society on the island did not satisfy his need for power over others. He does relinquish his magic, however, which was the main source of his power on the island. I feel that this is because he knows that when he is back in Italy he will not need magic powers to control people, as he will be the rightful duke, and this will be respected by members of Italian society. This also is another example of how important the theme of power is. In conclusion, I think that the island is a microcosm of society, and due to its size, and the small number of people on there, everything is concentrated. For example, Sebastian's desire to be King would probably have been suppressed back in Italy, but on the island it is not. ...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)

    In act 1 scene 2 Prospero keeps the theme of usurpation going when he tells Miranda for the first time that he is the Duke of Milan. The fact that Miranda did not know this after twelve years of living with her father emphasises the distance between them both.

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

    Ariel is a spirit who is, similarly to Miranda, devoted to Prospero. He says to Prospero "All hail, great master, great sir, hail!" The repetition makes it seem dramatic and joyful, emphasising Ariel's devotion to Prospero, and the fact that he will do whatever Prospero asks of him.

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

    Caliban and Ariel, and over his daughter Miranda, are imagined as projections - the 'virtual', mediating and invisible power structures that pervade social and political life in Europe, that regulate its geographical and cultural borders. This virtual world of projections is contrasted with the actualities and pressures of a localised

  2. Explore Shakespeare's presentation of the theme of power in the "The Tempest"

    He does this by giving up his robe and all his books. These were the main signs of his power so the fact that he gives them all up means that he really has given up all his magic power.

  1. Explore the theme of rightful authority in The Tempest

    The tempest that causes the trouble on the boat was created by Ariel under Prospero's instruction.

  2. How far do you agree that Shakespeare presents status as the greatest enemy to ...

    The first time that Shakespeare presents their relationship to us is in Act 1 Scene 2, where the first conversation begins with an insult from Caliban to Prospero, uncharacteristic of an ordinary master servant relationship. Prospero responds just as aggressively, provoking Caliban further.

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

    Prospero has therefore created the scenes unfolded before the audience's eyes, by the power he has to bring and maintain the illusory magic enchanting his family on the ship to be lured towards the fantasy he lives in. Prospero has the absolute power to control what humans see, hear and feel on the island, as well as the audience.

  2. Explore the way that the theme of power and control is presented in 'The ...

    so their relationship is one of negative emotions, suffering and derogatory treatment. He is the son of witch Sycorax and is half-beast, half-man. The often maligned beast is bitter about being treated as such and is frequently tortured by Prospero for misbehaving, which is a clear instance of the physical control that Prospero has over him.

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