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AS and A Level: The Tempest

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Structuring your essay

  1. 1 Include any relevant contextual detail – Shakespeare’s other plays (particularly the last plays – The Winter’s Tale; Pericles; Cymbeline) may be relevant.
  2. 2 Remember to include possible alternative readings.
  3. 3 What textual evidence (quotations and references) can you use to prove your point?
  4. 4 How does your evidence prove your point? (Analyse the quotes using literary terminology)
  5. 5 Having argued the case, it is usually possible to include a more personal response in your conclusion.

Five things you need to know about 'The Tempest'

  1. 1 The setting is a deserted island which provides a location where conventional social ways and hierarchies can be put aside. Gonzalo’s speech that sees the island as a potential Utopia is undermined by the mocking presence of these two evil lords.
  2. 2 The play explores questions of leadership. The first scene presents a ship in a tempest where the Boatswain challenges the authority of the earthly lords.
  3. 3 The Tempest is Shakespeare’s last complete play and is unusual in that Shakespeare seems to have devised the plot himself although he has included many elements that would fit the genre of Romance literature.
  4. 4 The play debates two main kinds of magic. Prospero’s Art is associated with learning. The magic of Sycorax is contrasted with this – her magic is an example of ‘goety’, magic for evil purposes.
  5. 5 The play is one of the group known as the ‘last plays’. These four plays share similar concerns – conflict resolved through the younger generation; magical elements; elements of ‘old’ stories or fairy tales; tragi-comic elements and so on.

Key characters in The Tempest

  1. 1 Ferdinand and Miranda provide the possibility of reconciliation through their marriage which is a love match but also a political union.
  2. 2 Prospero controls the action of the play through his Art. He is the usurped Duke of Milan who seizes the opportunity to shipwreck his enemies (Antonio and Alonso) on the island where he himself was shipwrecked twelve years previously.
  3. 3 Caliban (whose name is a near anagram of ‘cannibal’) is often portrayed as a mere savage. However, he tends to speak in verse and has some of the most poetic lines of the play.
  4. 4 Ariel is the spirit who performs Prospero’s ‘magic’ as a result of being released from the pine tree in which Sycorax had imprisoned him. Ariel desires his freedom and can be compared and contrasted with Caliban.
  5. 5 • Prospero is often likened to a director of a play – the illusions that he creates through his Art such as the storm, the banquet and the Masque are witnessed as spectacle. Some critics argue that, in the figure of Prospero, Shakespeare himself is bidding farewell to the theatre.

  • Marked by Teachers essays 3
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  1. Marked by a teacher

    Nature vs. Art in The Tempest

    3 star(s)

    The contrasting force is that of Caliban, who represents nature. This connection with nature is, like Prospero's art, both altruistic and misanthropic and causes problems when Caliban comes into contact with Prospero, because these two views conflict. However, they also have some hidden similarities. Caliban and his powerful connection with the natural world represent nature. The lack of control can both be harmful to Caliban, by letting his 'hag-seed' nature shine through, and advantageous, as it allows him to both hear and appreciate (unlike the 'civilised' Stephano and Trinculo)

    • Word count: 2518
  2. Marked by a teacher

    How does Shakespeare ensure that the theme of usurpation and its consequences runs throughout The Tempest?

    3 star(s)

    The main way that Shakespeare has ensured that the theme of usurpation runs throughout the play is through repetition. The first usurpation's started way before the play began. For example his own brother Antonio usurped Prospero the rightful Duke of Milan; also Prospero usurped the island from Caliban for when Sycorax his mother died the island became his. There is proof of this in the play when we are first introduced to Caliban and he states that "Which at first was mine own King: and here you sty me.

    • Word count: 2261
  3. Marked by a teacher

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

    3 star(s)

    This already suggests what the audience should expect from Caliban. We never truly find out what exactly Caliban is; he is described as a ?fish: he smells like a fish, a very ancient and fish-like smell?? which implies that he is an unusual figure. Many critics have debated over Caliban?s true form, John Dryden, an English poet and dramatist (1631 ? 1700) singles him as a ?triumph of poetic invention? because Caliban is a different and mysterious character because his true appearance is never clarified.

    • Word count: 1529
  4. In this essay, I will be comparing the soliloquies and asides placed in the adaptation of William Shakespeares The Tempest by Julie Taymor in 2008-10.

    Shakespeare uses the speech in this confrontation between the savage slave known as Caliban and his wizardly master, Prospero, effectively by making Caliban speak out against Prospero. This was adequately restored in the adaptation, as Hellen Mirren constantly shows some abhorrence to his spiteful insults, in response to Djimou Hounson's brutality as a noble savage. In relevance to the theme of nature v nurture, Caliban is incredibly ungrateful for the care given to him by Prospero as his original personality resumes control naturally.

    • Word count: 1081
  5. Exploring the theme of enslavement in The Tempest

    It is possible this furthermore provided Shakespeare with ideas for the tempest. A writer at the time who may have influenced Shakespeare is Montaigne who writes about foreign natives, portraying them as "noble savages". Caliban speaks in evocative and beautiful verse: this is epitomised by the terrifyingly eloquent curses he directs at Prospero. Also, by his encounters with the more bawdy and abrasive characters of Stephano and Trinculo bring out the poetry in his language and superior intellect. "Caliban in some respects a noble being: the poet has raised him far above contempt..."

    • Word count: 1555
  6. Caliban characterisation - The Tempest

    The uneven relationship between the coloniser and the wild native is explored by the playwright's repetitive use of the language of colonial exploitation and images of incarceration as Caliban is "confined", with his own island as his "prison". The power relations are highlighted by Miranda calling Caliban an "Abhorr�d slave", the accentuated adjective emphasising the hateful, loathing tone towards the subordinate, uncouth "thing". Caliban's attempted rape of Miranda when he did "seek to violate/ The honour of my child" hints that Caliban brings about his own problems due to his acts of debasement, part of the nature of his unevolved, "vile race".

    • Word count: 795
  7. Discuss Shakespeares presentation of the following issue: Loss and Restoration

    Prospero was forced to flee with his daughter, Miranda, and washed up on the current island they inhabit now. Despite this loss, Prospero has his magic along with Ariel, a rescued spirit. Ariel performs the storm upon Prospero's orders to restore the natural order; the wrongful Royal Court Party are forced onto the island by the shipwreck and face the same loss of position that Prospero did earlier. Ariel himself has faced adversities like Prospero. Trapped under the rule of Sycorax, an evil witch, Prospero liberates him. While this seems to restore the Great Chain of Being, Ariel ends up losing this freedom and is forced to serve Prospero instead.

    • Word count: 897
  8. The Importance of Magic in The Tempest

    However, the destiny of all of the characters in The Tempest, no matter how different they are, is decided by supernatural intervention rather than by the character's free will or their own intentions. As already mentioned, Shakespeare lived in a time that wholly believed in magic. Society was harsh and children were educated about magic as children today are educated about mathematics or science. Within the play magic is used as a kind of illusion. Ariel is shown as a spirit throughout the play who can create music, and fly freely about the island.

    • Word count: 1160
  9. Discuss the presentation and significance of Caliban in 'The Tempest'

    As the play develops it becomes clear that Caliban wasn't originally a slave to Prospero. Prospero only made Caliban his slave as punishment for his attempted rape of Miranda "O ho, O ho! Would't had been done!" (Act 1 Scene 2 L349) This shows that Caliban revels in his plans to dishonour Miranda and he seems self satisfied with his attempt. This presents Caliban as being rebellious and shows that Caliban's servitude can be seen as a rightful punishment in the eyes of the audience. This will also bring up the question; why did Caliban jeopardised his maintaining relationship with Prospero?

    • Word count: 2300
  10. The Significance of Colonialism in William Shakespeare's The Tempest (1610/11), Thomas More's Utopia (1516) and John Smith's A Map of Virginia (1612).

    (Wilson 333). Utopia is said to be inspired by accounts of the communistic way of life observed in some of these new found lands, although it is an imaginary world whose backbone is based upon slavery. Needless to say, Utopia seems to have inspired some of the ideology behind the concept of colonialism during this era, such as this portion from the play Eastwood Ho, which was written by George Chapman, Ben Jonson and John Marston and first performed in London during the summer of 1605.

    • Word count: 3754
  11. Presentation of Prospero in the Tempest

    Magic is a vital theme in the Tempest, and is predominantly linked to Prospero's character. Prospero gains the power of magic through books, revealing his character to be learned and knowledgeable. As we are aware, this knowledge is able to bring Prospero a great deal of supremacy, and he is able to use it in several ways throughout the play. Both magic and knowledge are symbols of Prospero's superiority, as they allow him to gain control over the others on the island.

    • Word count: 3015
  12. Form, Structure and Language are used to convey the theme of control and power in The Tempest, explore how Shakespeare does this.

    An example of this is shown when Gonzalo is speaking of his ideal Utopia, he states that he will ensure that he can 'feed my innocent people' by using the word 'my' to address the people of his ideal land he is contradicting the thoughts of a Utopia, this is somewhat ironic as the idea of a Utopia is freedom and equality yet Gonzalo is instantly asserting a hierarchy through the word 'my', I think Shakespeare does this to show the futility of the idea of a perfect society as every individual human being has their own ideals, Shakespeare therefore

    • Word count: 1341
  13. Explore the way that the theme of power and control is presented in 'The Tempest'

    such as Caliban over Stephano and Trinculo. However, the converse can be argued, too as Stephano and Trinculo see Caliban as a tool in their plot. In spite of that, throughout the entire play Prospero, as the protagonist, keeps control and achieves his aims. In the opening scene, the theme of power and control is introduced to the audience, who do not know yet that it is Prospero who creates the tempest that the boat is caught in. The audience later finds out that it is Prospero who has ultimate control over the fates of everyone on the boat throughout the first scene.

    • Word count: 2059
  14. The Tempest- The Significance of the love story between Ferdinand and Miranda in the play as a whole

    At the end of the play in Act 5 Scene 1 "Prospero discovers Ferdinand and Miranda playing at chess". Everyone is joined together at this part of the play; Ferdinand and Miranda are revealed together playing chess. This gives the image of these two being in control and taking the role of leadership; by them playing chess and controlling their chess pieces this can be linked to royal duty. So perhaps Shakespeare uses chess as a symbol of them being the next rulers.

    • Word count: 3352
  15. Explore the presentation of authority and inferiority in 'The Tempest'.

    One such instance of Caliban's ignorance of the rules of society is when he "didst seek to violate the honour of my (Prospero's) child". In society, this would be considered as rape and one would be imprisoned for it, however Caliban doesn't understand the error of his actions as he says he wanted to populate "this isle with Calibans". To him, He was acting on instinct and doing what animals do, but as Miranda and Prospero were not born on the island, to them it was considered as a violation of basic human rights.

    • Word count: 1841
  16. Explore the theme of rightful authority in The Tempest

    At first Prospero shows love and kindness towards Caliban who shows them the islands resources in return. Miranda and Prospero teach him language giving him the freedom to express himself. He is sensitive to Ariel's songs and his own language is poetic at times. Yet this image is contrasted with Shakespeare's presentation of Caliban as monster, a 'thing of darkness', and the offspring of a witch Sycorax and the Devil. He is described as 'ungrateful' since Prospero and Miranda do 'everything' for him and Caliban returns their favour by making sexual advancements on Miranda. This ingratitude is enough justification for Prospero to enslave Caliban and torment him with invisible spirits.

    • Word count: 1217
  17. Explore Different Interpretations of Caliban(TM)s Character and Role. Is he evil?

    The Tempest evokes the mystery of this new period of exploration. It is clear that Shakespeare's objectives included more than simply entertainment value; he weaves in messages about love, treachery, enslavement, freedom, and mercy. When performed the character of Caliban is open to much interpretation. In the post colonial era for instance, it has become fashionable to present Caliban not as a vile monster but as a victim of oppression. More timelessly, Caliban can be portrayed as someone who is trapped by 'original sin' inherited from his witch mother but who can nonetheless be saved when Prospero chooses forgiveness over revenge.

    • Word count: 1275
  18. Discuss the use of imagery in the Tempest and relate the extract to the themes of the play.

    Prospero is transferring his anger here, through Ariel and in the middle of the extract does not seem to be at all forgiving, however at the end of the extract he depicts that if they say they are sorry for the wrong deeds they did to him, then he will offer them forgiveness, "and a clear life ensuing". Prospero's power is an underlying theme in this extract as he is the one summoning Ariel and causing food and torment to appear, Prospero is like God of the island and wants them to understand that if they want to have a happy life they have to ask for his forgiveness for their foul deeds.

    • Word count: 1276
  19. The Tempest Act III, Scene ii, lines 70-144. How does this dialogue develop your response to Caliban?

    Caliban is nostalgic when talking of his early days with Prospero, it is revealed to us that Prospero wished to educate him, in exchange, Caliban shares the "qualities o'th'isle" the relationship between the two characters is not unlike that of a parent and child. We feel pathos towards Caliban at this point, as he seems to regret at the breakdown of the relationship with Prospero, "Thou strok'st me and made much of me...then I loved thee." The speech presents to us Shakespeare's fascination with the politics of the time, as Caliban is portrayed as the dispossessed native; his resentment to Prospero could be translated into that of an oppressed people.

    • Word count: 1535
  20. How far do you agree that The Tempest is a play about the use and abuse of power?

    The characters on the boat are divided into noblemen, professionals and servants. The danger of the tempest upsets the social dynamic and thus this is where we see how educational power can overrule political power. The boatswain, a lower class commoner, is in direct conflict with the ill-fated nobles, who are appalled at the language a significantly lower class man can use to command authority; this is a contrast to Sebastian and Antonio who seem ignorant and unworthy to the situation onboard.

    • Word count: 2319
  21. Power in the Tempest

    He is controlled by revenge because of his usurpation from Milan. He feels a need to fight against his brother and the king who have so maliciously deserted him on the forsaken island. In turn the jealousy and desire for revenge controls the way he uses his power and formulates manipulativeness in his personality which is shown through his command over Ariel and Caliban. It is ironic that he is so livid with Antonio, his brother for banishing him to the island and amazed that he could be so brutal to him, yet he has no reservations about holding Ariel and Caliban.

    • Word count: 892
  22. How Does Shakespeare Present the Realtionships With Ariel and Caliban

    The way to which Caliban reacts to his new found slavery, indicates the differences in how humans respond to "modern" civilisation, causing bitterness, and much hatred between the two former allies. Prospero and Ariel's relationship is clear, and the dual roles played by both Prospero and Ariel are shown almost immediately between the two. Prospero demonstrates his role as a father to Ariel as soon as the two characters are first together. The first scene with the duo in has Ariel report that the job of causing the storm is done, and the other characters are now shipwrecked.

    • Word count: 2673
  23. Discuss the role and importance of magic in the first 3 acts of "The Tempest" by William Shakespeare

    However despite this, it is questionable whether this magic was benign, as everyone suffered during its implementation. This recurs throughout the whole of the play; as to whether it is necessary to mess with people's emotions, sleep patterns and the natural elements, and indeed whether any good does come of this all in the end. Prospero seems to have no hesitation in performing his magic, mainly for the good of himself, as we see in Act One Scene Two. In the following the audience learn of the magic that has been carried out, in the very first two lines spoken by Miranda.

    • Word count: 2090
  24. Explore Shakespeares presentation of Caliban and Ariel. What does it tell us about the importance of freedom and imprisonment in the play?

    We realize through the language spoken by Caliban that he is imprisoned and discontented as he says "pricks at my footfall" which connotes pain and suffering and he also curses a lot as he says " his spirits hear me, And yet I needs must curse" which suggests that he Is not happy and doesn't want to be enslaved by Prospero. Act 2, Scene 2 also starts with the entering of Caliban with a "burden of wood", which also shows him to be enslaved by Prospero as he rules by fear and threatening him.

    • Word count: 1710
  25. What is important about Act I of the Tempest

    This is important because we later find out that it was in fact Ariel creating an image of the storm, and we get the hint that the storm is so surreal that Boatswain believes it to be alive. This just highlights Ariel's power, and if she can be this powerful, then Prospero's magic must be very influential. During the opening act, we also learn much of the relationships between the characters. We see Prospero and Miranda's relationship as quite a trustworthy one.

    • Word count: 826

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?
  • Discuss the presentation and significance of Caliban in 'The Tempest'

    "Caliban contributes to a number of themes throughout The Tempest and is one of the most active and mysterious characters throughout the play. Caliban has great effects and influences on many of the other characters this is emphasised by the use of imagery and metaphors conjured up by Caliban. The audience will have mixed feelings for Caliban as he has to put up with the ordeal of being threatened and punished by Prospero, however within a second will conjure up a plot to kill him. In my opinion I feel sympathy for Caliban because I think Prospero expresses too much illegitimate anger on Caliban. However many people will have different assumptions on Caliban presentation through The Tempest."

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