Imagery in The Tempest, by William Shakespeare Essay

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William Shakespeare's play The Tempest utilizes extensive imagery which goes beyond merely creating atmosphere and background or emphasizing the major themes of the play. The supernatural plays a considerable role in the play, thus so does the use of imagery, which is more extensive and somewhat different from many other of Shakespeare's works. The imagery is used as a mediator of supernatural powers, to emphasize the natural scene of action, and establish the enchanted island which becomes vivid through such a wealth of single features and of concrete touches. Therefore throughout the play imagery serves a much larger role than creating atmosphere, and is actually involved in most aspects of the play.

In The
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After Miranda, by her first words, had referred to the events immediately preceding, Prospero leads her memory back to "the dark backward and abysm of time" (I. ii. 49), and thus arises the remembrance of another tempest, endured by Prospero and Miranda when they were expelled by his brother:

there they hoist us,

To cry to the sea that roar'd to us , to sigh

To the winds whose pity, sighing back again,

Did us but loving wrong. (I. Ii. 148)

The two tempests thus become connected by a relation between guilt and redemption, this connection adding to the significance of the tempest-imagery in this scene. Shakespeare then returns to the present through Miranda's asking for Prospero's "reason/For raising this sea-storm" (I. ii. '75). Shortly afterwards we see a being who is himself a kind of storm-spirit and, through his spirit-like nature, is related to the airy elements. The words and images which characterize Ariel (and by which he characterizes himself) at the same time thus revive, the world of the sea, of the winds and waves. Ariel's description of his activity during the seastorm subsequently makes it clear that there were supernatural powers behind it. But if we compare his description with Miranda's first words on the tempest, subtle differences again are revealed:

Jove's lightnings, the precursors

O' the dreadful