The idea of creating a utopia on an island in the Mediterranean is an idea that recurs throughout William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. When Prospero, a usurped duke, uses his magic to conjure up a storm, a boat full of Italian royalty is shipwrecked on an island. The hierarchy that once existed disintegrates quickly in the chaos of the shipwreck, and the reader sees the characters start to vocalize how they imagine their perfect world. However, throughout the play and in its humorous conclusion, the reader sees that the realization of a utopia of any sort is an unrealistic expectation due to the characters tumultuous relationships and histories. The histories of the characters and the hidden agendas that many of them possess make it seemingly impossible to create a flawless world on the island. There is mention of a utopia in Charles Frey’s essay, “The Tempest and the New World”, but his definition cannot accurately describe a plausible situation on this particular island. Meredith Skura also mentions a utopia in her essay “Discourse and the Individual: The Case of Colonialism in The Tempest”, but her definition is much more cynical and suggests that a utopia cannot be attained, which is more realistic given the situation on this particular island. Although there are situations on the island that may resemble an Eden of sorts, the underlying stratagem that Prospero implements turns these moments into a ploy for more power. As a result of these carefully contrived schemes, The Tempest fails to become a realization of a utopia, by any definition, for any of the characters except for Prospero.
Skura’s definition of a utopia is a very sceptical, cynical way looking at a utopia. Skura desc...
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...on of a utopia of “human fellowship beyond all storm,” (39), the reader can clearly see that there is no human fellowship, begging for Prospero’s mercy is an illustration of the absence of cohesion or alliance between any of the characters. Prospero’s complicity got him what he wanted. His power was re-established, his daughter is soon to be the Queen of Naples, the people who wronged him pleaded for his mercy and he gets to leave the island that he was exiled to while all of the other characters are either shamed or have the hopes of their utopias being inaugurated abolished. Although there were celebratory moments throughout the play that mimicked the beginnings of an optimal existence for several of the characters, the final scene of The Tempest reveals these moments for what they really are – a product of Prospero’s connivance in a pursuit to realize his utopia.
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