The Tempest Essay

The Tempest Essay

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Everyone has lost something. One of my earliest memories is a car ride through the desert of Arizona. We had just stopped at a gas station, and after we had gotten back on the road I realized that I had left behind a small toy I had gotten at McDonald's earlier that day. Even at seven years old I knew that I would forget about the toy in a day or two, but for some reason I could not help but ardently entreat my parents to return for it. It was only after I had lost the toy that I realized how much I wanted it. Shakespeare’s characters have lost something as well: their freedom. The idea of a “puppet master” is not an uncommon one in classic literature. In Shakespeare’s Macbeth we sense the subtle manipulations of the three witches in their treatment of Macbeth, and in “The Final Problem” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle we see Sherlock Holmes struggle to free himself from the the works of criminal mastermind James Moriarty. We even see it in children’s literature through “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum. Yet The Tempest is unique as the mastermind has lost his own freedom as well. It is like seeing the puppets dance, looking behind the curtain, and seeing only more strings. Through reading The Tempest you come to understand that almost every character, even if that character is seemingly in control of their own destiny, is trapped by something or someone, and it is only as they struggle to regain their freedom that each individual realizes how much it was taken for granted.
The most obvious loss of freedom is felt by the ruling party consisting of Alonso, Sebastian, Antonio, and Gonzalo. Their first goal is to return to Naples, but that voyage is halted by Prospero's storm and their subsequent wreck on the island (1.2.205...


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...e to regain control of both Milan and Naples. But in the end The ruling party is spared, Antonio regains his son while Prospero regains his kingdom, Ariel is freed, and even Caliban takes some small ownership in his actions, “Ay, that I will; and I'll be wise hereafter / And seek for grace. What a thrice-double ass / Was I, to take this drunkard for a god / And worship this dull fool!” (5.1.332-335) It is that sense of rediscovery that Shakespeare leaves us with, the sense that the characters have struggled against fate without even knowing it and are just now realizing what they have gained as a result. The future is uncertain and relationships are still being recreated, but every character leaves the island with a deeper appreciation of the importance of freedom.


Works Cited

Shakespeare, William. The Tempest. Paperback. New York: Modern Library, 2008. Print.

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