The Tempest Research Paper

Submitted By rogue42
Words: 1636
Pages: 7

Critical Essay Outline

While Reading William Shakespeare's The Tempest, there were several elements which seemed as though they held a symbolic meaning deeper than their superficial appearance. Prospero and his magic, Ariel the spirit and his influence on the supporting characters, the distinct tone of each of the three storylines, and many other details will be covered in detail. Throughout reading The Tempest, these details felt as though it were alluding to similarities between Prospero and William Shakespeare, or more specifically, his perception of what it means to be a playwright, his personal struggles as a writer and what it took for him to feel successful. It is my belief that he wrote this play as an allegory for his ideal image of what a playwright should be. I am of the opinion that I can support this hypothesis using evidence found in the text.

The first notion I had which made me suspect at the deeper meaning is the role that each character plays. As any student of theater knows, there are several very specific archetypes of character found in a successful play. Shakespeare was known for using these archetypes consistently in his storytelling[1]. Miranda and Ferdinand, the naive lovers, Alonso Antonio and Sebastian, the shortsighted Machiavellian conspirator villains and Caliban Trinculo and Stephano, the drunken comic foils. Caliban also provides the dual purpose of representing the servant character, which is an archetype in itself. In the same vein as the character archetypes, there are three storylines which exist throughout the play. The first is Miranda and Ferdinand. This story arch is one of romance between the two young lovers, with a naivety and foolish optimism oft granted to such characters. The manner in which their pairing is manipulated by Prospero, pretending to be against it, then relenting and eventually welcoming Ferdinand into the family, where in fact it was his intention all along is a prime example of the naievity the characters possess. The second story arch is the three conspirators, Alonso, Antonio and Sebastian, who are the reason Prospero is stuck on the island. Their arch posses the functions of a drama, in that there is a conspiracy in regard to Prosperos having been ousted, there is the revenge theme, which is created with Prospero seeking to avenge his being cast out and the plot by Antonio and Sebastian to murder Alonso and steal his throne. The final story arch is that of the three drunks, Caliban, Trinculo and Stephano, who plot to kill Prospero, but primarily serve as a comedic element to the play. The reason it was important to point out the character and story archetypes is because the first piece of evidence I am offering is the importance that Shakespeare put on including as many styles and playwright elements into this play. It seemed to me as though he were trying to capture a piece of every style he could so that the message of his play would appeal to playwrights and audiences whom enjoy writing or viewing every play type. Additionally, it was interesting to me to note the conclusion of the play itself did not conclude with any particularly emotional outcome. It held a certain anticlimactic feel to it which is not particularly common in theater, especially for Shakespeare, who it seems prefers a quite dramatic conclusion. This is especially interesting when considering that this play was his final solo piece.

One important observation about the entirety of the three narratives is the manner in which Prospero is, for all intents and purposes, pulling the strings of the various players. He is the reason Miranda and Ferdinand come together, the reason Caliban is enslaved in the first place, driving him to seek the aid of Trinculo and Stephano, and is the mastermind behind Antonio, Alonso and Sebastians misfortunes. It is, in fact, by his magic-laden hand that their ship comes to be on the island in the first place. And let us not forget he also controls Ariel and