Authority Struggle In Tempest Essay, Research Paper
The Tempest: Is It Series of Treacheries and Rebellions?
Yes the play consists of ?a series of rebellion, treacheries, mutinies and conspiracies against authority? but the overall view of the dramatic action is much more complex. Many other aspects and themes such as illusion and the supernatural (magic) also play a very important part in shaping the plot.
Power struggle is evident from the beginning, way back when Prospero?s brother, Antonio, seized his status as Duke of Milan and banished him to a barren place and left for dead. ?In scene 2.1, pg 141, Sebastian remarks, ?I remember/You did supplant your brother Prospero.? And Antonio replies, ?True;/ And look how well my garment sit upon me,?. Antonio betrayed Prospero, and yet he feels no remorse for his treacherous act: ?I feel not/ This deity in my bosom?, his conscience is not bothered by what he did to Prospero. Another sibling conspiracy in the play came in Act II when Sebastian is encouraged by Antonio to kill his brother, Alonso, which would put him next in line for the throne but first, they attempted to kill Gonzalo, the Alonso?s faithful advisor. Scene 2.1, pg ?Draw together,/and when I rear my hand do you the like/TO fall it (the sword) on Gonzalo.? Their evil plot is interrupted and plans ruined as Ariel wakes the sleeping party (Alonso and Gonzalo).
But perhaps the most prominent resistance against authority comes from Caliban, the slave of Prospero who feels that the island is rightfully his, ?The island?s mine by Sycorax my mother,?. He goes on to state that Prospero ?tak?st from me.? In order to regain or gain his rulership, Caliban plots with Trinculo and Stephano to kill Prospero and take over the island. Act 3, scene I, pg 160
?Why, as I told thee, ?tis a custom with him
I? th? afternoon to sleep. There thou mayst brain him
Having fisrt seized his books; or with a log
Batter his skull, or paunch him with a stake
Or cut his weasand with thy knife.?
An important factor in authority struggle is the illusion of authority, who is ultimately in charge? Illusion of authority becomes evident from the start when the boatswain speaks to the king in the storm; ?What cares these roarers for the name of king??if you can command there elements to silence, and work the peace of the present, we will not hand a rope more?use your authority.? Who is ultimately in charge here is the boatswain and not the king, after all he knows more about the sea.
Magic (the supernatural) and Illusion entwined are dominant themes that shape the entire story and they both have a profound effect on the events that take place. For example, the storm that brought the king?s court to the island at the beginning of the play was orchestrated by Ariel and Prospero. Another major part of the play that contributed to illusion, was the masque. The masque, brought about by Ariel?s magic, was the ceremony of celebration of the unity of Ferdinand and Miranda. But it is built on sheer illusion and wishful thinking, what he?d like to see happen in the future, not only between Miranda and Ferdinand but symbolizing reconciliation between those who wronged him, starting anew, a clean slate. According to The York Notes it is ? characteristic of a mixture of improbabilities, love, magic and miraculous reconciliations .? (48).
Prospero?s power and magic are dominant throughout the play yet he really has no power?in the sense that his power is based on the willingness of Ariel and Caliban to comply with what he says. Ariel and Caliban give him his power?they let him rule, they are the basis of his power. ?We cannot miss him. He does our fire,/ Fetch our wood, and serves in offices/ That profit us?? In these lines Prospero let?s his audience know that without people like Caliban and Ariel (doing his ?dirty? work) he?d have no one to rule. He needs them, because he commands nothing without them, especially seeing as how Ariel is the basis of his so-called magic! This is evident in the first scene when it becomes clear that Ariel not Prospero was the magician behind the storm; Act 1, ln 194-200 Prospero asks Ariel, ?Hast thou, spirit,/ Performed to point the tempest that I bade thee??. Again in the 4th act, it is Ariel who brings forth the masque, lns. 34-40. ??I must use you/In such another trick?../Incite them to quick motion, for I must/ Bestow upon the eyes of this young couple/ Some vanity of mine art? Ln 59: ?Now come, my Ariel. Bring a corollary,?
However, he does command presence and hold superiority over them; Ariel is owes him for freeing her from entrapment and he uses Ariel to subdue Caliban. Ferdinand is only compliant because Prospero has something that he wants?Miranda, his daughter.
Yes, there are instances of rebellions and treacheries but the dramatic action of the Tempest also comprises of a series of illusions especially pertaining to authority, and m
Pinnington, David. York Notes: The Tempest. Essex: York Press/Addison
Wesley Longman Limited, 1998.
Shakespeare, William. Orgel, Stephen. Eds. The Oxford Shakespeare: The
Tempest. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.