Shakespeare Uses His Play 'the Tempest' to Depict a Microcosm of His Society.

1645 WordsAug 15, 20087 Pages
In his play The Tempest, Shakespeare uses the stage to present to the audience a microcosm of society. He minimizes the ideologies of his society so that they are represented through the characters and settings of the play. Through the use of dramatic conventions, the playwright examines human behaviour and emotion on a smaller scale. The shipwreck and the island are a world of their own; however, they are both representative of wider ideas. The play reflects how human nature shapes a society. There is continual conflict between the rightful order of things and challenges to it. The ship demonstrates power struggles and cements the presence of the hierarchical structure that is applied in civilisation. The island explores colonialism and…show more content…
Both characters are enslaved and exploited by Prospero who represents a colonial force. However, the different treatment of both of them presents to the audience two varying approaches to slavery of the native folk. Ariel is adopted by Prospero as his personal servant and is valued by him as a “brave spirit” even though his freedom is not granted until the very end. He is repaying a debt to Prospero and is faithful to him, yet displays subtle resentment that he is not free. Ariel is a typical personal servant in his attributes. Caliban symbolises a native that the colonists viewed as savage and enslaved. Prospero’s harsh and intolerant behaviour towards him mimics what would have actually happened in reality during colonising times. When Prospero fails as an educator in imposing his values of civilisation on Caliban he regards him as a savage. He decides the only way to keep Caliban in order is to give him “stripes”, treating him worse then an animal. He is restricted to hard manual labour and threatened and bullied by Prospero, suffering in a similar way that many New World Natives did. Caliban embodies many aspects of the idea Western society held regarding these natives. He lived without a rigid social hierarchy unlike ‘advanced’ European countries and worshipped an alternate religion to Christianity. His worship of the Patagonian god Sebetos justifies for Prospero to describe Caliban as a “demi-devil” and

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