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Portrayal of Utopia in The Tempest

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Portrayal of Utopia in The Tempest

In The Tempest, Shakespeare allows the audience to appreciate the possibilities of utopian society and whatever this may posses. Being the good, and bad so that they can see that problems can arise in such a society. The Tempest can be thus seen as a window into the dimensions of utopian societies. While his characters take on the role of the leaders of the utopian societies, Shakespeare uses his creation to portray the social questions and beliefs of society of how a utopian environment should be.

Essential to the discussion of this aspect of The Tempest is the definition of a "Utopia". For different characters this "utopia" means different things. First of all and maybe most important of all, as it is she who says it, Miranda's utopia consists of a populated world with many other human beings in it. This can be seen as created by the way she has been kept in relative isolation due to her father’s action. Human beings, in whatever forms they come in are a fascination for her, and something that she longs to see. Other characters on the other hand have a whole manner of different ideas of utopia and versions of their "utopia". Caliban's utopia changes throughout the play and Gonzalo's utopia seems somewhat confusing as he has two ideas which seem to contradict each other. What is underlined here is that the view of Utopia does not remain stagnant, it is a constant changing process depending on one’s life experiences and points of view.

More specifically Prospero's utopia is a reflection of what society at that time believed to be a utopia. This being an easy existence, void of manual labor, with all of their time spent on the pursuit of greater knowledge and...

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...wn nature. He says ‘ All torment, trouble, wonder and amazement/Inhabits here. Some heavenly power guide us/Out of this fearful country.’

Works Cited and Consulted

Boss, Judith E. "The Golden Age, Cockaigne, and Utopia in The Faerie Queene and The Temepest." Georgia Review 26 (1972) 145-55.

Cohen, Walter. "Shakespeare and Calderon in an Age of Transition." Genre 15 (1983), 123-37.

Davidson, Frank. “The Tempest: An Interpretation.” In The Tempest: A Casebook. Ed. D.J. Palmer. London: Macmillan & Co. Ltd., 1968. 225.

Kermode, Frank. Introduction. The Tempest. By William Shakespeare. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1958. xlii.

Solomon, Andrew. “A Reading of the Tempest.” In Shakespeare’s Late Plays. Ed. Richard C. Tobias and Paul G. Zolbrod. Athens: Ohio UP, 1974. 232.

Shakespeare, William. The Tempest. Ed. Frank Kermode. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1958.
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