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How does William Shakespeare's The Tempest reflect society at the time?

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Introduction

How does William Shakespeare's The Tempest reflect society at the time? William Shakespeare's The Tempest is a pastoral Tragicomedy that was written during the Elizabethan period in which society was expanding and extracting ideas from many other cultures. Even though King James was on the throne for a good part of the Jacobean period it was still considered as the Elizabethan period as not much changed at first. It is Shakespeare's last play that he wrote on his own that contains some of his most complex ideas that coincide with his theatrical balance. The metaphor for the theatre is in fact the play itself with Shakespeare as the leading role, "break my staff" laying down his pen and bringing his world to a d´┐Żnouement. This play is very much concerned with the emotion and overall behaviour of people. There is a sense of ambiguity with the actual Tempest as its meaning is that to a real - life event. ...read more.

Middle

He believed that people should be allowed to think clearly away from the conflict that real life gives unto people. Many people at this time simply created the assumption that Europeans had a right to go to other countries in Africa's for instance. Whilst others carried the great worry that this idea of "civilisation" might not be totally beneficial to all those in favour of it. This idea of "civilisation" is reflected in the character of Caliban. To our modern audience he seems to be the most sympathetic characters in the play and is one of the most analysed characters. He is termed as "a savage and deformed slave" with most people in England at that time believing that anyone who was uncivilised were below them in God's hierarchy. Shakespeare did however believe that the dishonesty in what people perceived as their "civilised" society was more repulsive than the way people should act. Caliban is not a perfect flawless character in the same way as Shylock in "The Merchant of Venice" with every character has their downsides. ...read more.

Conclusion

This was to make them understand that their complete pursuit of a utopian civilization could cause great problems. Shakespeare achieves showing the audience the good points and of cause the bad points of a perfect way of life, it almost acts as a clear window in to the heart of what people this is a perfect environment. The roles of the leaders in such a society is encapsulated in the characters, yet all the way through Shakespeare is there indirectly asking questions in to the beliefs that his audience would have of how they think their culture should be. In the book of "The lost Garden" John Wilders quotes that "Prospero's island is what the sociologists call a 'model' of human society". In this microcosm the characters portray the basic relationships, for instance, master and servant (being of course Prospero and Ariel), Male to female. With this being Shakespeare's last play we can presume that within it he decided to make a controversial statement by challenging these ideals made by the earlier Queen and her country. ...read more.

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