Shakespeare's The Tempest Essay

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The Tempest raises many questions regarding the formation of authority and power. Is hierarchy understood as natural or as constructed? Also, what are the consequences when authority is usurped? This paper will attempt to answer these questions in a succinct manner using textual references to solidify its arguments. As the play progresses, Prospero constructs the hierarchy in such a way as to return things to their "natural" state. Any type of usurpation, whether attempted or successful, will always end up with power back in its rightful place, and most of the time with a lesson learned. The events that take place in the play are all made possible by the original usurpation against Prospero, the right Duke of Milan by Antonio, his…show more content…
Antonio's selfish refusal to recognize his particular place in the social and political hierarchy resulted in the overthrow of Prospero's dukedom and the consequent corruption of the "natural" harmony. Prospero expresses his disdain for Antonio and his will to regain power when he says: I pray thee, mark me, -that a brother should Be so perfidious! –he whom, next thyself, Of all the world I loved, and to him put The manage of my state; (5) So dry he was for sway, wi' the King of Naples To give him annual tribute, do him homage, Subject his coronet to his crown, and bend The dukedom, yet unbow'd, -alas poor Milan! – To most ignoble stooping. (6) The first essential step that Prospero takes in order to regain his dukedom is to construct the storm (or tempest) itself. This storm, which rocks with force the very ship that Prospero's enemies are on, overturns the hierarchy on the ship. The storm at sea is instilled by Prospero's magic which permeates the actions of the characters until Act V when he removes his magician's robe. Not until then has its purpose of restoring his dukedom been accomplished. In a social and political society, the king would almost always exercise his authority over all of his subjects, but on this ship at sea he has stepped into the domain of the Ship-master and Boatswain and must now give in to their authority. These are the people who hold the king's life in their hands. The Boatswain sums it up nicely in
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