The Battle for Political Power in The Tempest Essay examples

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"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." -- Abraham Lincoln

Shakespeare's "The Tempest" forms a world within itself. Within this world, many topics regarding government, power and colonization are addressed. Shakespeare tackles the discovery of new places and races, the relationship between the colonized and the colonist, old world ideologies on new soil, as well as theories on civilization and government. These aspects at the core reveal a very clear struggle for political power. Prospero's first major monologue creates the foundation of such a theme. In 1.2 lines 30-175 Prospero tell his story recounting the usurpation of the power he had as Duke of Milan, then quickly
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Upon arrival to the new island, Prospero encounters the one inhabitant, the native Caliban. As Antonio usurped power from Prospero, Prospero usurps power from Caliban. Later we see Caliban plotting to recover what Prospero has taken.

The concept "knowledge is power" is reaffirmed through Prospero’s character. As long as he has his books he has knowledge and thus power. Prospero uses his knowledge to attain reason and consequently power. The play begins with his creation of a storm, giving him the ability to initiate and control problems. Using his knowledge as a catalyst for power David L. Hirst argues, “From the extension of reason, Prospero derives a power which he uses in an attempt to influence everyone on the island” (9). To Miranda, he is the strong protective father, who educates; to Caliban he represents the colonizer. Prospero describes Caliban as “a poisonous slave got by the devil himself” (1.2 323-324) who serves as his oppressed slave. To Ariel he represents the rescuer and constantly reminds her that it was he who freed him, yet he fails to grant the very liberty from which he saved. To the shipwrecked “he is a surrogate providence who corrects errant aristocrats and punishes plebeian revolt” (Brown 59). Recognizing themselves as subjects to Prospero validates Prospero’s position as governor.

Upon arrival, Prospero assumes the island as
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