Power And Authority : The Tempest Essay

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Power and authority, whether it be legitimate or illegitimate, is one of the main themes Shakespeare grapples within The Tempest. Throughout the play characters like Antonio and Prospero usurp power from others and each other. Their actions and motivations set forth by Shakespeare showcase what many say are the playwright’s ideas on humanity and the way government should be run. Antonio is the brother of Prospero, and has since become the Duke of Milan after seizing control of the state from his brother with the help of the King of Naples. He betrayed and exiled Prospero, and his young daughter Miranda, who almost didn’t survive were it not for the benevolence of the royal official, Gonzalo. Prospero describes the the way that his brother and the king to usurp him as “in lieu o’ the premises/Of homage and I know not how much tribute/Should presently extirpate me and mine/Out of the dukedom and confer fair Milan/With all the honours on my brother” (Act 1 Scene 2). Shakespeare seems to use Antonio as a mirror for the politics of that era, and he is seen as very Machiavellian at times, as Antonio was willing to attain power by any means necessary. The influence of the political teachings of Niccolò Machiavelli on The Tempest are actually undeniable, and his ideals definitely shine through Antonio. It is from Prospero that we first learn of his brother’s betrayal as he is telling his daughter how they came upon the island they now reside on, which is very important because
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