Essay On Illusion And Reality In The Tempest

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In William Shakespeare's The Tempest, the line between the realm of reality and illusion is blurred by Prospero, who through the use of his magic is able to manipulate and control both the island and those who are stranded on it. The duality between illusion and reality, the contrast between the natural and unnatural are being represented and questioned by Prospero's magic. Throughout the play, Shakespeare is stating that illusions can distort reality, but in the end reality will always makes itself apparent.
Prospero orchestrates the events of the play with ease, his magic giving him the power to manipulate the characters and environment around him. This almost omniscient power that is presented pushes the audience to question what is real and what is not. Because the audience is not directed involved with the play's plot, they cannot be strung along by Prospero's magic, allowing for objective viewings of what is actually occurring. These contrasting perceptions can be applied to the characters in the play as well; What are mere illusions to Prospero is reality for everyone else on the island.
The first demonstration of Prospero's powerful illusions occurs during the very first scene of the play. The huge storm and the ensuing shipwreck is our first introduction to the world of the play and as we later find out the first part of Prospero's elaborate plan. The tempest that begins the play engulfs the ship and leaves its occupants throughout the island, each believing that they were the only survivors. Prospero manipulated the reality of the situation, leaving the survivors unaware that they were never in danger the entire time. The presence of Prospero's magic establishes a dichotomy between this play's world compared to Shak...

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...with his magic and art to pursue his vengeance or to forgive those who wronged him long ago and return back to the real world. He ultimately chooses to forgive Antonio, Alonso, and Sebastian and restore his dukedom. Leaving behind the island also means leaving behind his power of illusions, because his magic could not exist in Milan. "Now my charms are all o'rethorwn, And what strength I have's mine own, Or sent to Naples, let me not, Since I have my dukedom got". The reality of the real world and the art of illusions found on the island cannot be melded together; this separation of perspectives is represented physical separation, Milan represents the real world, a mainland area that places values on political aspirations and nobility, and the island represents illusions, disconnected from the mainland, isolated, free reign to be whoever or do whatever you please.
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