Digging Deep into The Tempest

Digging Deep into The Tempest

Length: 1524 words (4.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
It makes sense to me to see in this Shakespeare's sense of his own art--both what it can achieve and what it cannot. The theatre--that magical world of poetry, song, illusion, pleasing and threatening apparitions--can, like Prospero's magic, educate us into a better sense of ourselves, into a final acceptance of the world, a state in which we forgive and forget in the interests of the greater human community. The theatre, that is, can reconcile us to the joys of the human community so that we do not destroy our families in a search for righting past evils in a spirit of personal revenge or as crude assertions of our own egos. It can, in a very real sense, help us fully to understand the central Christian commitment to charity, to loving our neighbour as ourselves. The magic here brings about a total reconciliation of all levels of society from sophisticated rulers to semi-human brutes, momentarily holding off Machiavellian deceit, drunken foolishness, and animalistic rebellion--each person, no matter how he has lived, has a place in the magic circle at the end. And no one is asking any awkward questions.


In the same way, Prospero's world can awaken the young imagination to the wonder and joy of the human community, can transform our perceptions of human beings into a "brave new world," full of beauty, promise, and love, and excite our imaginations with the prospects of living life in the midst of our fellow human beings.


In the world of the Tempest, we have moved beyond tragedy. In this world Hamlet and Ophelia are happily united, the Ghost comes to life again and is reconciled with his brother, the old antagonisms are healed. Lear learns to lessen his demands on the world and to accept it with all its threats to his own ego. This is not a sentimental vision, an easily achieved resolution. It takes time--in this case sixteen years--and a measure of faith in the human community that one is prepared to hold onto in the face of urgent personal demands. This play seems to be saying that theatrical art, the magic of Prospero, can achieve what is not possible in the world of Milan, where everyone must always be on guard, because it's a Machiavellian world ruled by the realities of power and injury and there is no Ariel to serve us with the power of illusions.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Digging Deep into The Tempest." 123HelpMe.com. 16 Jul 2018

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay about Forbidden Knowledge in Digging for China

- Searching for Forbidden Knowledge in Digging for China In Richard Wilbur's poem, "Digging for China", he writes, " 'Far enough down is China,' somebody said. 'Dig deep enough and you might see the sky as clear as at the bottom of a well.'" (Lines 1-3) Wilbur was suggesting to his readers that if one looks at the world in a different way, they could find a totally different place. We can see this concept when we explore Wilbur's poem as a whole piece. He is talking about finding a paradise in one's backyard....   [tags: Digging for China]

Free Essays
938 words (2.7 pages)

Digging For a Living Essay

- Digging For a Living In his poem "Digging," Seamus Heaney describes a unique relationship between a boy and his father. Their relationship closely relates to the one I have with my father. Throughout the poem, the poet's pen is contrasted with the father's spade, using each as a symbol of their vocation and background. Along the same lines, the relationship between my father and myself can be expressed through my keyboard and his pencil. Heaney's poem tells of a boy and his father who have different callings for their career....   [tags: Digging for Living]

Free Essays
528 words (1.5 pages)

Knowledge As Power in The Tempest Essay

- This essay deals with the figure of Prospero as master of Shakespeare's “The Tempest”, illustrating his power in all its expressions and explaining how it is based on knowledge. The first paragraph explains the context in which Prospero's power arises through the play and introduces his background and other main characters. In the second paragraph I discuss the relationship between Prospero and Caliban, a creature found in the island and submitted by the protagonist that attempts to civilize him....   [tags: The Tempest]

Research Papers
1195 words (3.4 pages)

Imagery in The Tempest, by William Shakespeare Essays

-     William Shakespeare's play The Tempest utilizes extensive imagery which goes beyond merely creating atmosphere and background or emphasizing the major themes of the play. The supernatural plays a considerable role in the play, thus so does the use of imagery, which is more extensive and somewhat different from many other of Shakespeare's works. The imagery is used as a mediator of supernatural powers, to emphasize the natural scene of action, and establish the enchanted island which becomes vivid through such a wealth of single features and of concrete touches....   [tags: Tempest essays]

Research Papers
3744 words (10.7 pages)

Freedom and Servitude in Shakespeare's The Tempest Essay

- Freedom and Servitude in Shakespeare's The Tempest What is slavery. Is it an institution. A mental state. A physical state. Is it human nature. Or is, “…slavery is…an inherent, natural and eternal inheritance of a large portion of the human race” (Ruskin 307). Whether or not any one of these options is true, the fact remains that each says something about humanity. Therefore, when a play like The Tempest comes along, centering on the themes of freedom and servitude, one must look for the commentary that is thereby produced, keeping in mind that Shakespeare rarely lacked commentary....   [tags: The Tempest Essays]

Research Papers
3352 words (9.6 pages)

Essay on Forgiveness and Reconciliation in The Tempest

- Forgiveness and Reconciliation in The Tempest         Many scholars argue that, along with Shakespeare’s other late romances, The Tempest is a play about reconciliation, forgiveness, and faith in future generations to seal such reconciliation. However, while it is clear that the theme of forgiveness is at the heart of the drama, what is up for debate is to what extent the author realizes this forgiveness. An examination of the attitudes and actions of the major characters in the play, specifically Prospero, illustrates that there is little, if any, true forgiveness and reconciliation in The Tempest....   [tags: Tempest essays]

Research Papers
1431 words (4.1 pages)

Importance of Dialogue in The Tempest Essay

- Importance of Dialogue in The Tempest Dialogue is one of the most important features in a play, where the audience has the story acted and spoken out in front of them. For this reason, in a play such as The Tempest, relationships are written and constructed mainly through the spoken word. The Tempest is a play by William Shakespeare, in the genre of both a romance and a pastoral tragicomedy. Since Prospero is the central character of the text, most of the relationships shown and developed in the play concern him....   [tags: Tempest essays]

Free Essays
997 words (2.8 pages)

Defending Prospero in Shakespeare's The Tempest Essay

- Defending Prospero in The Tempest      In William Shakespeare's The Tempest, the character of Prospero brings about a great deal of debate. Modern literary critics are quick to use him as a poster child for English colonial practice in the sixteenth and seventeenth century. Many see him as person who desires complete control of everything around him from the fish-like monster Caliban to his spirit servant Ariel, even his own daughter Miranda. Others believe that Prospero's sole motive is revenge on his brother Antonio and those associated with the established power in Naples and Milan....   [tags: Tempest essays]

Research Papers
1772 words (5.1 pages)

Romance and Anti-Romance in Shakespeare's The Tempest Essay

- Romance and Anti-Romance in The Tempest       The specific genre classification that one may give to a piece such as The Tempest is often thought to be highly confusing. This is because so many of the qualities of a romance and a realism can be applied to it's words and actions, but at the same time pull away from the very sense of the genre that it is trying to achieve. A romance has many specific qualities, most of which rely on the fancy and imagination of the viewer or the reader. In some circles, it is even known as escapist....   [tags: Tempest essays]

Research Papers
2180 words (6.2 pages)

Digging Essay

- "Digging" “Digging” by Seamus Heaney is the first poem in the first full volume of Heaney’s poems, “Death of a Naturalist”. “Death of a Naturalist” is about the transition into adulthood and the loss of innocence. The poem shows how Heaney looked up to his father and grandfather, especially their hard work. Even though Heaney did not follow in their footsteps and become a farm laborer, he respects the work they do, especially their skill at digging. The poem is a free verse poem....   [tags: Literary Analysis, Seamus Heaney]

Research Papers
1098 words (3.1 pages)

Related Searches


On this reading of the play, what would we make of Caliban, who stands in opposition to Prospero's power and who is its most immediate victim? This reading would probably stress (as many productions have always done) Caliban's dangerous, anarchic violence. He is an earth-animal (some intermediate form perhaps) who represents a clear and present danger, because he is not capable of being educated out of the state he was born into. Prospero's "civilizing" arts keep him in control, though with difficulty. Caliban is at times quite sensitive to the emotional qualities of Prospero's magic, especially the wonderful music he hears, but is too much in the grip of his raw instincts for rape and rebellion to respond with anything other than anger to his condition.


Caliban might well be considered in some sense a natural slave (as D. H. Lawrence pointed out) because his idea of freedom from Prospero seems to involve becoming the slave of someone else, someone who will kill Prospero. So Caliban throws in his lot with two drunken Europeans, not having the wit to see them for what they are. Caliban is thus not so much interested in freedom as he is in rebellion; his violence is natural to him and is not an outgrowth of the way he is treated. Hence, Prospero's control of him through his magic is not only justified but necessary.


Does Caliban undergo any sort of significant change at the ending of the play? There's a suggestion that he has learned something from the mistakes he has made, and his final comment ("I'll be wise hereafter,/ And seek for grace") may be a cryptic acknowledgment of some restraint. But he doesn't go with the Europeans and remains on his island. Caliban's future life has always sparked interest among certain writers, for there is a tradition of sequels to the Tempest in which Caliban is the central character (notably Browning's long dramatic monologue "Caliban on Setebos").


For all the potentially warm reconciliations at the end of the play, however, it is not without its potentially sobering ironies. And there is a good deal of discussion of just how unequivocal the celebration is at the end. For Prospero is no sentimentalist. He recognizes the silence of Sebastian and Antonio at the end for what it is, an indication that they have not changed, that they are going to return to Naples and Milan the same people as left it, political double dealers, ambitious and potentially murderous power seekers, just as Stephano and Trinculo are going back as stupid as when they left. Prospero's theatrical magic has brought them together, has forced them to see themselves, but it has had no effect on some characters (unless the staging of the end of the play conveys in non-verbal ways that the two noble would-be killers are as contrite as Alonso appears to be).


If we see the irony here as present but not totally corrosive, then by bringing us such a reconciliation, theatre (Prospero's experiment in the play and The Tempest itself) can help to maintain our best hopes for a meaningful life, faith that in time we will work things out, that, in spite of evil, the end of our story will manifest a pattern of moral significance. Locked into the contingencies of history in our political and business lives, where competition and deceitful self-interest hold sway, we may easily lose this faith. The theatre is, in a sense, a place which can restore us.


But that restoration is provisional and fragile, more of a hope than a robust certainty. That's why in acknowledging the most famous single line quotation from the play, one needs also to examines the four words which immediately follow: Miranda, overwhelmed with the wonder and delight of seeing so many finely dressed civilized Europeans cries out, "O brave new world/ That has such people in't!" to which the more sober minded and mature Prospero comments only, "'Tis new to thee." Those four words of Prospero are wonderfully pregnant. In them he acknowledges his earned awareness into the nature of human beings, into the complexity of human life, which does not always (or usually) answer to Miranda's joyous affirmation.


But he is not about to deliver Miranda another sermon, for he knows that the sense of joyful and optimistic wonder which she, as a young woman, is carrying back to Italy is the world's best hope. It may be, as he well knows, naive, for Miranda has, as yet, no sense of the evils that lurk back in the political world of the city. She sees only the attractive exterior of her human surroundings with no sense yet of the potential deceptions within. But she is as well equipped as he can make her, and it is not up to him to sour her youthful enthusiasm with a more complex and less affirming mature reflection. That is something she will have to discover in her turn.


One might argue that if Prospero's experiment is designed to make everyone better, then it's a failure in large part. And it may be, as I mentioned above, that Prospero recognizes that fact. It is not unusual to stage this play in such a way that the conventional comic structure of the ending is seriously undercut by the sense of sadness in Prospero, who is returning to Milan to die. I'm not pressing this interpretation. All I want to call attention to at this point is that the ending of this play may not be the unalloyed triumph of the comic spirit that we are tempted to see there. Prospero's sober awareness of what the silence of Sebastian and Antonio means qualifies our sense of joy by indicating that the eternal problem of human evil has not been solved or dismissed. One major interpretative decision any director of the play has to make concerns this ending. Just how evident and serious should those ironies be: non-existent, a light shadow under the communal joy, or a heavy reminder of what is in store back in Italy?


The strength of this sobering irony at the end will determine the particular tone which governs the return. In some productions, the irony is hardly noticeable and the celebration is thus dominant. In others, the irony is sufficiently strong to introduce an ominous note into the whole proceedings, even to the point of suggesting that Prospero's experiment has, in a sense, failed. Yes, Miranda and Ferdinand will be happily married, but the political world they are returning to (where Prospero will soon die) is unchanged and will remain much the same.
Return to 123HelpMe.com