Theme Of Dystopia In The Tempest

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William Shakespeare’s last, and highly revered, play The Tempest is seen as not only one of his greatest works but the Bard’s farewell to the stage all together. In his work not only does Shakespeare criticize the notion of a utopian society but parallels that with the repercussions of the latter dystopian society as well. It can be seen in the play that there is a constant theme of struggle between what is considered the “real world” and an ever-emerging “new world” as it is portrayed on the island. The two conflicting worlds create a sense of imbalance throughout the work as a distinct “ruler” is unclear to the viewer, who’s island is it? And what do they hope to gain? In William Shakespeare’s The Tempest not only is the notion of modern society questioned through situation, but also examined through form and the construction in the play that mirror the shortcomings that it embodies.
What is a perfect utopia? Or even a catalytic dystopia? All of which are pertinent questions to be addressed. Coined in 1516 by Thomas More in his book Utopia, written almost 1oo years before Shakespeare, he imagined a world outside of European society (XXX). Much like More the ideals in The Tempest don’t vary differently from this view of society outside of the controlling government. In contrast the idea of a dystopian society can be seen to originate around the growing tension as viewed in the aristocracy throughout the period and could be a precursor into the abolitionists movements that followed. As portrayed in The Tempest these two ideas merge and create a paradox within themselves as one’s “Utopia” causing another view that the same world becomes another’s “Dystopia” leaving the two to live in perfect suspension within reality.
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...ackles the personal involvement each individual has in society and how that affects the general consensus of what is deemed “perfect” and what is considered to be detrimental to the same civilization. In his play he exposes the “real world” as an imperfect interpretation of society as seen through the eyes of Prospero. While in contrast Gonzalo sees this “new world” as the perfect opportunity to right the wrongs of modern society, a new colony posed with the same problems, but unlike modern society, it solves them and therefore become a better world. The Tempest poses the ultimate question; can a perfect society ever exist? And if so what limits or implantations would that afflict on the individual citizens, could it be possible that one day everyone could potentially work together to assert themselves to be apart of a collective consciousness in which we all exist?
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