Shakespeare's Theme of Power in Act 1- The Tempest
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Shakespeare's Theme of Power in Act 1- The Tempest There have been suspicions of Shakespeare's last play written in 1612, named: "Cardenio"- a lost play. However the play we know today as the last written in 1611 is "The Tempest". Shakespeare's main focus was the Theme of Power in "The Tempest". Throughout the play the audience encounters power possessed by different characters enabling them to force another character in particular, against their own will. An example of this was the usurpation of Prospero's Dukedom, forced by the King Alonso and his accomplice Antonio. Although Prospero demonstrated his wizardry as an element of power to cause the shipwreck in the opening scene, it had evoked the audience's anticipated responses especially the colonisation of the island. Power is a symbol of competence substantially used to combat against usurpation. It is also expressed through language to convey the feelings of a character. Boatswain defied his noble; challenging his authority and against the inevitable power of nature: "Blow till thou burst thy wind." His use of power was selfish as well to disrespect the King; a lack of patriotism. Atmospheric power manifests the scenery of the shipwreck as a dramatic technique to reinforce the audience responses of a vicious storm; hence the link to the title "The Tempest".
But Ariel intends to be released from Prospero and reminds him of his good deeds: "Remember I have done thee worthy service"- Ariel's ambition is his freedom and not ruled by a master of power. This impression draws our intention to usurpation with a direct comparison with Caliban. There is also power of manipulation when Ariel had sent the King and his nobles to sleep. Since Antonio and Sebastian were convinced to kill the King for Sebastian to claim the throne, Ariel had woken the sleepers in time before the danger of the assassination. In this scene we also see the enduring power of Antonio's malicious plans despite Alonso was his accomplice to overthrow Prospero. Caliban claims Prospero had usurped him. Despite his powerlessness he chants a false cursing on him: "A south-west blow on ye". His false power engages the reader's interest of Caliban's anger over Prospero. Miranda also mimics Prospero's power: "Abhorred slave", perhaps she is following her father's footsteps of sorcery. She uses words to give images of violence: "savage" and "vile race"- it helps us understand the hideous and violent nature Caliban has. Caliban has such physical strength of power but is incompetent against Prospero's wizardry: "I must obey; his art is of such power".
Shakespeare particularly intended to portray this power of love that establishes a connection in the culture of our society today. On the other hand Prospero doubts this love between the two: "Poor worm, thou art infected". This depiction of love is seen as a disease in Prospero's eyes as if Miranda had caught it. Possibly Prospero had called Miranda a "worm" to express her vulnerability and the powerless nature of her that Prospero so much controlled her. Shakespeare's intention of alcohol used to pollute the minds of consumers is conveyed through Stephano who first introduces it in the play. Perhaps this scene is intended to portray a microcosm of the wide spreading of alcohol in Europe. Alcohol is an addiction to Stephano: "but here's my comfort". Stephano tempts Caliban to drink the alcohol as well which poisons his mind into drunkenness. There is a handling of power from Stephano as Caliban intends to become his slave, since he believes that he is a God. Perhaps this is an interpretation of slaves being exchanged for worthy masters that Shakespeare wanted to send a message to. This mimics Caliban's loyalty and trust to Prospero when they first met, that Caliban was honest and loyal to him as a servant. However Trinculo denies this power from Stephano : " A most ridiculous monster, to make wonder of a poor drunkard." Silky Ng Power- The Tempest
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