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Old Friday, December 29, 2006
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Default The Tempest- William Shakespeare

ANALYSIS OF THE EPILOGUE OF THE TEMPEST

The Epilogue of the Tempest by William Shakespeare is an excellent -- if not the best -- example of Shakespeare's brilliance. In 20 lines Shakespeare is able to write an excellent ending to his play, while speaking through his characters about Shakespeare's own life and career. Even more amazingly, he seemlessly ties the two together.

In the context of the story Prospero's monologue makes perfect sense. He has lost his magical power, so his "charms are o'erthrown, and what strength [Prospero] have's [his] own, which is most faint." He is now "confined" on the Island, for his other choice would be to go to Naples and reclaim his dukedom, but he doesn't want to do that because he has already "pardoned the deceiver" who took his position many years ago. Prospero then says something a little strange, but it makes sense in the context of the story, he ask us to "release [him] from [his] bands with the help of your good hands." In other words, clap so that the sails of the boats his friends are riding in will be safely returned and Prospero can be "relieved by prayer" of the audience.

All of what Prospero has said is very nice cute, but the most interesting part of this monologue is what Shakespeare himself is saying. "Now that my charms are all o'erthrown, and what strength I have's mine own" means, now my plays are over, and it's no longer my characters speaking. The "Island" or stage Shakespeare is on is now "bare" and it is time for "you" the audience to release Shakespeare and his actors from this play with the "help of [y]our good hands." Shakespeare was not only being released for the performance of the play, he was being release from his career as a playwright. But there are more reasons to clap besides the obvious reason that the play is over, Shakespeare could not allow his final play to be bad, his project "was to please." He reiterates this point by saying "and my ending is despair unless I be relieved by prayer", or the clapping of the audience and it frees "all faults" and allows Shakespeare to indulge the clapping and joy of the audience.

Finally, after we seperate the two different perspectives, we can step back and see how Shakespeare magically works them together. The first such pun is on the word "faint", in the third line. Prospero uses faint to describe his strength, but Shakespeare makes it a pun on the pun he is making! Let me explain, faint means light (amoung other things), which means light hearted, or fun. As if you thought this wasn't confusing enough already, you could put a pun on the pun on the pun! Again, let me explain, faint can also mean hard to see, like the pun on the pun! That might be pushing it a little, though. The thing about Shakespeare is anything is possible. Another, less obvious but more significant double meaning is on the word "please" on line 13. Prospero is literally saying his goal was to make the people on the Island happy, Shakespeare is saying his goal was to please his audience. Shakespeare was without a doubt is one of the greatest authors of all time, this Epilogue clearly shows us that.
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Old Friday, December 29, 2006
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Default Barbarism Versus Civilization

In Shakespeare’s play, "The Tempest," an underlying theme of barbarism versus civilization appears. Shakespeare creates characters that exemplify symbols of nature or nurture. The symbolism of the characters is derived from their actions. These actions show Shakespeare’s view of the uncivilized and the civilized, as well as help the reader develop his own opinion of each side.

In this whimsical play, Prospero, the former Duke of Milan, after being supplanted of his dukedom by his brother, arrives on an island. He frees a spirit named Ariel from a spell and in turn makes the spirit his slave. He also enslaves a native monster named Caliban. These two slaves, Caliban and Ariel, symbolize the theme of nature versus nurture. Caliban is regarded as the representation of the wild; the side that is usually looked down upon. Although from his repulsive behavior, Caliban can be viewed as a detestable beast of nature, it can be reasonably inferred that Shakespeare’s intent was to make Caliban a sympathetic character.

During the first encounter, Caliban comes across very bestial and immoral. While approaching Caliban’s cave, Prospero derogatorily says, "…[he] never/Yields us kind answer," meaning Caliban never answers respectfully. When Prospero reaches the cave, he calls to Caliban. Caliban abruptly responds, "There’s wood enough within." His short, snappy reply and his odious tone, reveal the bitterness he feels from leading a servile life. Caliban’s rudeness makes him seem like an unworthy and despicable slave. Also, Caliban displays an extreme anger toward Prospero. When Caliban is asked to come forth he speaks corruptly, "As wicked dew as e’er my mother brushed/With raven’s feather from unwholesome fen/Drop on you both!…And blister you all o’er!" Caliban’s attitude and disrespect is unfitting for a servant. However, his actions are justified.

Until Prospero arrived on the island, Caliban was his own king. The island was left to him by his mother, Sycorax. Nevertheless, Prospero took charge of the isle and eventually enslaved Caliban. "…Thou strok’st me…I loved thee…" is part of a quote that illustrates Caliban’s relationship with Prospero before he was his slave. Prospero comforted Caliban and gave him water and berries; he taught him how to speak, as well. During this time Caliban loved Prospero and showed him the features of the island, "The fresh springs, brine-pits, barren place and fertile…" Caliban regrets helping Prospero as he says towards the end of his speech, "Cursed be I that did so!" Caliban feels this way due to his imprisonment. However, Caliban was enslaved because he raped Prospero’s daughter, Miranda. Rape appeals to the reader as a good cause for enslavement, but Shakespeare shows that Caliban deserves sympathy, instead of disgust.

Caliban committed an illicit act that deserved punishment. However, he had not been nurtured by society and, therefore, did not know any better. It is his basic nature to do as he feels. He does not know the difference between right and wrong. The reader tends to feel sympathetic towards Caliban because he is punished and oppressed for conduct he could not control. Prospero says, "A devil, a born devil, on whose nature/Nurture can never stick…" which explains why even though Prospero taught Caliban the ways of civilized life, he still acted upon his natural instincts. Caliban still displays his natural behavior by being blunt and so-called detestable as a slave. Though, once the reader understands Shakespeare’s intent, it can be inferred that Caliban is merely a sympathetic character who has lost his soul. He is helpless among the lives of the civilized, because civilized life is one he will never undertake. Caliban is a man of nature, but he should not be considered less honorable than someone from civilization.

Shakespeare portrays Caliban as a very ugly and crude looking beast, which is how people of nature are pictured by citizens of society. Caliban’s appearance exemplifies the degenerate animal nature within him. However, Caliban has, what no man of society has, purity and innocence. Caliban acts not to please others but to make himself happy. He has an intuitive understanding of the natural world that brings out a sensitivity higher than that of the civilized. Shakespeare gives Caliban some of the finest poetry in the play, "…Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not./Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments…" showing that nature can be as eloquent as society. Caliban might be portrayed as evil, but he is not as callous as Antonio, Prospero’s brother. Antonio is from the civilized world, yet he produces corruption and deformity far worse than that of Caliban’s nature.

In essence, Caliban behaves detestable in the eyes of a civilized society. Nevertheless, his acts are justified by his background and the environment in which he grew up. Caliban is created around the idea of nature and Shakespeare wanted the reader to see that Caliban(nature) was not as bad as he appeared. Shakespeare also wanted the reader to attain an understanding for individuals who were raised in an uncivilized atmosphere. With this understanding, Shakespeare inflicted a feeling of sympathy for those less fortunate. Shakespeare shows that our perception of others is not always the true picture.
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Default The Tempest - Duality between Nature and Society


One of the essential themes of the Tempest is the duality between nature and society. This is made evident through the character of Caliban: the disfigured fish-like creature that inhabits the island at which the play takes place. Caliban lacks civilized influence due to the fact that he was born on the island deprived of any social or spiritual morality other than nature and instinct. He is literally man untamed. Caliban is not monstrous simply for the sake of being frightening, his ghastly visage is intended to literally depict the duality between civilization and natural instinct.

Caliban is literally man untamed. Part fish, part man, but not really either because he is more mentally sophisticated than a fish, but devoid of any characteristics generally associated with civilized beings. He displays promise in becoming civilized, but eventually it becomes evident that it is impossible to fully tame a wild animal, which is what Caliban essentially is. Caliban is more of an animal rather than a monster. While he is labeled a monster throughout the play due to his appearance, he is in fact an animal. He is not inherently evil or malicious, but relies on his own instincts and skills that he has learned to adapt to his surrounding and survive. What is vital to survival in society is not necessarily important in nature; and vice versa.

In nature only the most basic aspects of survival are required. Nature is all about survival, at any cost. Society is not. Civilization was developed out of convenience with the mental and physical skills of man. It has been from the very beginning, about making life easier. Basic ideals that are present in almost every society in the world are no murder and no theft. These are present because life is easier with rules like this. Human beings no longer had to worry about being killed or being looted as much as long as they were within the confines of a civilization. People started to be able to take up specialized professions and be able to count on other people to perform tasks such as carpentry, cooking, etc. Governments were formed to organize the people and efficiently run a civilization. Now the individual was not responsible for every aspect of survival but contributed to the overall survival of a civilization. From this economies were born either through trade or currency. However, the cornerstones of human civilizations (money and power) have lead to a whole new form of evil and brutality that was never present in nature. Its almost of a blind perversion of human nature. Through bettering our situation, we have corrupted ourselves to an extent (greed). Civilization can produce more savage and evil beings than nature. While Caliban is perceived as being evil and monstrous, he really is not. He just does not know any better. However, Antonio is much more malicious than Caliban because he knows what he has done is evil This goes back to the concept of nature vs. society.

Caliban is Shakespeare's representation of natural instinct and how it collides with society. Of course Caliban could have simply been a man raised in nature, but his image enhances his character by fulfilling, in his own flesh, the opposition and seemingly impossible compromise between nature and society. Caliban is in a sense a living breathing paradox. He cannot be tamed, but he shows characteristics of a tamed being; as does he show promise to be tamed. But he seems to revert back to his instincts and natural intelligence. Shakespeare's message is that no matter how hard we try we cannot unlearn things that have become our nature, what we are cannot be changed, it can be tamed to an extent, but the beast within will eventually shine through (physical image of Caliban). We will always revert back to what has been imprinted into our minds from the beginning of our lives, everything else will always seem foreign and no matter what we will always slip up somehow. The character of Caliban fully exemplifies nature vs. society and their clash, both physically and as a character within the play.


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Default The Tempest - Slavery

Slavery occurs on a widespread basis in The Tempest. Occurrence of slavery to many of the characters, all in different ways, helps to provide the atmosphere for the play. The obvious slaves are not the only slaves, as Prospero has basically got everybody entranced when he wants, to do whatever he wants with them. He can also control the way that they think.

The first and most obvious slave is ariel. Ariel is an airy spirit who is promised his freedom by Prospero if his job is done well. His job was to entrance the visitors to the island under Prospero's control. "What Ariel! My industrious servant, Ariel!" That is what Prospero said in act 4, scene 1, line 33. He was talking to his slave, Ariel, who entranced the visitors to the island.

Another example could be Alonso, the king of Naples. Since he is not in Naples, but on Prospero's island, and under his control, he is a slave in a way. In act 3, scene 3, lines 95-102, Alonso admits complete and utter loss of control. "O, it is monstrous, monstrous! Methought the billows spoke and told me of it; The winds did sing it to me; and the thunder, that deep and dreadful organ pipe, pronounced the name of Prosper; it did bass my trespass. Therefore my son i' th' ooze is bedded; and I'll seek him deeper than e'er plummet sounded and with him there lie mudded." He is telling us that Prospero is in control of him.

Prospero, Trinculo, and Stephano are in control of Caliban, the deformed son of Sycorax, and therefore Caliban is their slave. "Monster lay-to your fingers; help to bear this away where my hogstead of wine is, or I'll turn you out of my kingdom. Go to, carry this." In act 4, scene 1, lines 250-253, Stephano told Caliban to carry something for him, or he would be out of his kingdom. He treats Caliban like dirt because he is their slave.

In act 4, scene 1, lines 262-265, Prospero is describing how all of his former friends are now pretty much under his control, even though they don't know it, and enslaved to Prospero. "At this hour lies at my mercy all mine enemies. Shortly shall my labors end, and thou shalt have the air at freedom."

In act 5, scene 1, lines 7-10, it states "Confined together in the same fashion as you gave in charge, just as you left them-all prisoners, sir, in the line grove which weather-fends your cell." Ariel is telling Prospero that the visitors are under his spell, as they still are the way that he left them. They cannot do much until he breaks the spell.

In conclusion, The Tempest is a very good play to demonstrate the monstrosity of slavery in society. The play teaches lessons about slavery, and about classes of people, and how they react to their surroundings.
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