Essay on Shakespeare's The Tempest as a Microcosm of Society
1240 Words5 Pages
The Tempest as Microcosm of Society
The Tempest is one of Shakespeare's most universal plays and, not coincidentally, is very much concerned with human behavior and emotion. As John Wilders observes in The Lost Garden, “Prospero’s island is what the sociologists call a ‘model’ of human society. Its cast of characters allows Shakespeare to portray in microcosm nearly all the basic, fundamental social relationships: those of a ruler to his territory, a governor to his subjects, a father to his child, masters to servants, male to female, and the rational to the irrational within the human microcosm itself" ([London: Macmillan Press Ltd., 1978], 127).
Prospero himself is an observer of and experimenter with human behavior: he…show more content…
Hirst, The Tempest: Text and Performance [London: Macmillan Publishers Ltd., 1984], 28).
Prospero’s two servants, Ariel and Caliban, are the first subjects of his experimentation. Terry Eagleton explains, “If Ariel needs to be tied down to the life of the body, the creaturely Caliban needs to be cranked up to the level of language. Ariel and Caliban symbolize, respectively, pure language and pure body, a freedom which threatens to transgress all restraint and a sensuous enslavement to material limit. Prospero strives to bring both of them within that dialectic of activity and passivity, bondage and transcendence, which for Shakespeare is prototypically human” (William Shakespeare [Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1986], 95).
When he first arrived on the island and discovered Caliban, Prospero treated the monster “with human care” (1.2.346; all references to line numbers are from The Riverside Shakespeare, ed. G. Blakemore Evans [Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1974]). He tried, with Miranda’s assistance, to educate and civilize Caliban, the offspring of a witch and an incubus, the very epitome of ignorance, bestiality, and treachery. Caliban explains that Prospero taught him “how / To name the bigger light, and how the less, / That burn by day and night" (1.2.33436), and Miranda says, “I pitied thee, / Took pains to make thee speak, taught thee each hour / One thing or other” (1.2.35355). This particular
Essay on The Tempest
1551 Words7 Pages
Explain how Ariel and Caliban serve as character foils for each other. Be sure to consider their physical appearance and their roles as servants to Prospero.
In the world of The Tempest , Ariel, the airy spirit, and Caliban, the earthy monster, can be described as character foils. Unlike and contrasted as they are, they have some traits in common. They both have an aversion to labor and a longing for liberty. Also, they have a primitive sense of humor, a fondness for tricks and pranks, and a spontaneous and unsophisticated love of nature. Furthermore, deeper inside them, one has a fear of a higher power and the other a craving for affection and approbation. Thus, the contrast between them is heightened.…show more content…
Yet her compassion, as real as it is, also has a certain element of shallowness, or at least inexperience about it. She has lived the majority of her life in isolation, on an island known with her only companionship being that of her father. Growing up on this deserted island, Miranda learns to live and abide by the example set by Prospero. He is her only contact with the humanity and therefore he is her only friend and teacher. She knows no other woman and therefore had no female figure to aid the process of raising her. She is naïve and unaware of life's experiences, having been shielded from the rest of the world.
Throughout her life, which began at age three on the island, to the time in which she met the only other human contact, Ferdinand, at age fifteen, she learned many things from her father about life and all its complexities. Living on this island, Miranda is a product of " nurture" rather than that of "nature."
The term nurture refers to the upbringing or raising of a child. Miranda's father is her upbringing. He guides her from her early years on the island all the way through her first meeting of human contact. Miranda had to grow up on a deserted island with no other human contact and having to live by and trust only one person's point of view. It is hard for us the