Deception in The Tempest

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The passage below is found in the opening act of one of Shakespeare's most illusive plays of control and manipulation. The word "deception" is defined as "the act of misleading" or "to trick, cheat, lie, and mislead". From this definition, it is obvious that deception is normally perceived to be evil and results in the harm of others mentally and physically. It leads to broken hearts, untold truths, or even unpunished murder. However, in Shakespeare's The Tempest, deception is used as a virtuous art to manipulate an unjust situation and rectify it.

"Know thus far forth. By accident most strange, bountiful Fortune (Now my dear lady) hath mine enemies Brought to this shore; and by my prescience I find my zenith doth depend upon A most auspicious star, whose influence If I court not, but omit, my fortunes Will ever after droop. Here cease more questions. Thou art inclined to sleep. 'Tis a good dullness, And give it way. I know thou canst not choose" (Shakespeare 13).

The play opens with a fearful tempest threatening to destroy the king's ship and all of its passengers. This situation along with the terrified emotions of the characters appears to the reader to be very real. However, in the second scene, the reader meets Prospero and his daughter Miranda. Through their conversation we learn of Prospero's magical powers, his brother's unjust claim as the Duke of Milan, and the exile of the two to this mysterious island. Next unveiled is Prospero's plot of revenge to regain his rightful title, the first step being to shipwreck the royal party on his island with the creation of the magical tempest. The reality of the situation is that there never was any danger from the storm at all.

Throughout the play every event is co...

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...d thoughts. Deception was used, not to harm, but to correct an unjust situation. No one had self-control on the enchanted island which appealed to every aspect of the imagination. The whole plot of The Tempest can be summed up by these words from Gonzalo:

"...In one voyage Did Claribel her husband find at Tuns, And Ferdinand her brother found a wife Where he himself was lost; Prospero his dukedom In a poor isle; and all of us ourselves When no man was his own" (Shakespeare 82).

Works Cited

Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. "Lecture IX". The Tempest. New York: Signet Classic. 1987.

Knox, Bernard. "The Tempest and the Ancient Comic Tradition". The Tempest. New York: Signet Classic. 1987.

Shakespeare, William. The Tempest. New York: Signet Classic. 1987.

Tillyard, E.M.W. "The Tragic Pattern: The Tempest". The Tempest. New York: Signet Classic. 1987.
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