Essay on Biblical Themes in Shakespeare's the Tempest

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Biblical Themes in Shakespeare's The Tempest

Shakespeare is one of the most prolific and admired writers who ever lived. He certainly knew his craft and was familiar with all of the literature available at the time. One of the greatest books ever written was of course the bible. Written over the course of more than a thousand years it is a miracle in itself that the book exists. Shakespeare knew his bible, and his work often incorporated and examined biblical themes. Shakespeare's last completed work was The Tempest, and it is as complex and deeply moving as any of his works. Readers of the play respond on a much deeper level than the literal. In and of itself it is actually a very simple tale, it is the characters who are
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When Joseph's brothers humbly ask Pharaoh's lieutenant for grain to bring back to their famine starved land, and when Prospero informs Miranda and his audience that the tempest has brought his enemies under his control, the gut reaction of the viewer is "now your going to get yours," idea of vengeance. Both characters choose instead to forgive and reunite the family.
Restoration of the family is represented in both works through the imagery of harvest and the earth's fertility. "In Genesis, Joseph is associated throughout with images of plenty, the sheaves of wheat bowing down in his dream at the beginning foreshadowing the grain stored against the famine at the end, with the brothers' sacksful of grain the image of bounty and preservation, and their shared meal at the end of the tale as the emblem of their renewed family. Ceres' masque is of course the equivalent image in The Tempest, with its springtime nymphs and harvest reapers hand in hand replacing the disharmony of the disappearing banquet, communion denied." (3) Food is essential to maintain life as is family harmony seen as essential for redemption of the soul. Another important connection might be considered purification through suffering. Prospero's long exile helped him to atone for his neglecting his subject in favor of his scholarly endeavor with his books. Joseph can also be considered a self-created victim. He brought his brothers' wrath upon himself through his