Within ‘The Tempest’ there are obvious social implications regarding the hierarchy, with the representations of characters such as Caliban, Prospero etc. During Shakespeare's time social classification was much more rigid than today and some members of society were considered superior to other members. Shakespeare attempts to provide an example of this rigid social structure. Shakespeare illustrates how superior men differentiated themselves from lesser beings on the basis of race, financial status, and gender. Through the characterization of Prospero, Shakespeare provides an example of one, who had reason to feel superior, yet treated others equally and with the respect due to them.
‘The Tempest’ reflects Shakespeare's society through the relationship between characters, especially between Prospero and Caliban. Caliban, who was the previous king of the island, is taught how to be "civilized" by Prospero and his daughter Miranda. Then he is forced to be their servant. Caliban explains
"Thou strok'st me and make much of me; wouldst give me Water with berries in 't; and teach me how to name the bigger light, how the less, That burn by day and night; and then I lov'd thee, And show'd thee all the qualities o' th' isle,... For I am all the subjects you have, which first was mine own king."(Shakespeare I,ii,334-354).
We see he is treated as a lesser being because he is not of the same race as Prospero and Miranda. Prospero describes...
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...scrimination and segregation live on. This discrimination prevents many from fully participating in our society. Unfortunately, the passage of time has not taken our society to a higher intellectual level, rather it has only taught us how to be more discreet with our discrimination.
Works Cited and Consulted:
Garnett, Richard. "Irving Shakespeare" The Tempest (and selected criticism). Charlotte Porter and Helen A. Clarke (eds.) Thomas Y. Crowell & Co. 1903.
Knight, G. Wilson. "Shakespearian Superman" The Tempest D.J. Palmer (ed.) Macmillan & Co. 1968
Murray, J. Middleton. "Shakespeare's Dream" The Tempest D.J. Palmer (ed.) Macmillan & Co. 1968
Shakespeare, William. The Tempest. 1611. Ed. Stephen Orgel. New York: Oxford UP, 1994.
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