|← Hamlet Play||Langston Hughes' "Mother to Son" →|
William Shakespeare is considered to be the most influential writer in all English literature. “The Tempest” is thought to have been written between 1610 and 1611 and was first performed by the King’s men in 1611. Many scholars believe that “The Tempest” is the last play written entirely by Shakespeare given its original plot. The play employs code switching between "lower" forms and elevated literary language, between low art and high art, characteristic of the contemporary literature. The play is also a comedy. The Tempest is a play that undeniably deserves to be considered a classic because of the way language is used to convey meaning. Shakespeare uses language in the play by putting depth of meaning into a word. The prose is lyrical, the words are very descriptive and one can easily get lost in them. The language skills presented by Shakespeare help make the play seem extremely sophisticated and fashionable.
A theme clearly brought out in “The tempest” is the illusion of justice. This is a simple story where the unjust act occurs when Prospero’s brother usurps his throne. Prospero then seeks justice by trying to restore his power. It is important to note, however, that justice in the play seems extremely subjective given the fact that it represents the view of one character capable of controlling the fate of all the others. In the play, Prospero presents himself as a victim of injustice. He is a victim struggling to right all the evil that has been done to him and what is clearly revealed is that Prospero’s view of injustice and justice is totally hypocritical. This is because he is extremely angered when his brother takes over power yet he has no problem enslaving Caliban and Ariel so that he can satisfy his needs. It is evident in the play that Prospero’s view of justice is one-sided and always involves what is good for him. One could say the play is morally ambiguous because the play does not offer a higher power or justice capable of superseding Prospero and his interpretation of events. As we get deeper into the play, we realize the author’s deepening involvement with art and creativity and the fact that the role Prospero plays mirrors the author’s creation of a story. This metaphor allows us to view Prospero as Shakespeare’s surrogate just at the moment when Prospero’s sense of justice loses its perfection and even seems to be sympathetic. In addition, the means he employs in his quest to achieve his version of justice mirrors the authors own views as he works towards showing everybody his view of the world. Playwrights the world over usually organize their stories in such a way that their understanding of justice is imposed upon events. In ‘The Tempest’ the author has a role within his creation where he imposes his idea of justice and crafts a happy ending for all the characters. Prospero attempts to convince the audience and the other characters on the rightness of his case by employing the use of tricks and magic that accentuate the theatre’s spectacles and special effects. It is of value to note that as he does this, the ambiguities surrounding his views and thoughts gradually resolve themselves. He forgives his enemies, renounces his magical abilities, and sets his slaves free such that by the play’s conclusion he is the sole individual responsible for the audience’s pleasure. Shakespeare seems to say that happy endings are possible because artists through their creativity can create them despite the fact that the moral values responsible for happy endings originate entirely from the artist’s imagination (Nostbakken, 122).
Trinculo makes a reference to drinking the first time he speaks in the play. This is an indication that alcohol constantly occupies his thoughts, and he thinks out loud quite often. This metaphor helps the reader understand early enough where Trinculo’s mind is at. It is also important to note that Trinculo refers to Caliban as a fish about seven times in the first five lines of their encounter. The fact that Trinculo repeats the word over and over serves to explain the fact that Caliban is truly unlike anything anyone has ever laid their eyes on. In the play many thought of Caliban as a native to the island and nobody gave any real definition of his appearance. Trinculo’s words magnify his differences since he compares him to an animal with almost no resemblance to a man. When Miranda sees Ferdinand for the first time she remarks that he is the third man she had ever seen. It is safe to assume that the first two are Caliban and Prospero. It is worth noting, however, that when Miranda and Prospero interact with Caliban they hardly say anything to suggest he was a human. Miranda stresses the fact that before she taught him language he merely gabbled like some brutish creature and Prospero insists that he gave Caliban human care; a suggestion that he did not deserve this kind of care (Shakespeare, 67).The ambiguity of Caliban’s nature increases further into the play and at one point Prospero refers to him as a devil. The contradictory views held by Prospero and Miranda concerning Caliban’s humanity,areevident in the play. At one point they believe that the education they offered him served to lift him from his former brutish self while at other times they see him as naturally brutish. According to Prospero, no amount of nurturing will overcome his devilish nature, a statement that Miranda fully agrees with. In the play the authoremphasizes the fact that Caliban’s human part is driven out by his inhuman part (Nostbakken, 102).