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Themes in the Tempest

Uploaded by scatzz on Dec 12, 2001

There are so many different themes and issues in the play The Tempest by William Shakespeare, that it is difficult to define which is useful and which is not. To explore this concept, it would be prudent to look at 4 themes and issues in the play.

The theme of forgiveness is seen in act four scene one almost immediately with the words of Prospero to Ferdinand "If I have too austerely punish'd you,/ your compensation makes amends" (4.1.1). It is also far from Prospero's initial attitude as chronicled by critic Davidson "desire for vengeance has apparently lain dormant...and now with the sudden advent of his foes, the great wrong...stirring present again, arousing the will to action". Prospero goes through the motions of forgiveness, but his sincerity sometimes is lost. There is a matter-of-fact reconciliation between Prospero and Alonso, who with a simple "pardon me" (5.1.116) later on in the text he seems to make waste to the expectations for a more satisfactory ending that the audience found in act four, scene one. We saw a grand masque after the forgiveness of Ferdinand and in the next act, we see a rather lame apology and acceptance.

The masque element of the play is also a very important theme which incorporates the musical and visually stimulating elements that have been seen throughout the play so far. The use of pastoral images such as "Ceres, most bounteous lady, thy rich leas/ Of wheat, rye.../ Thy turfy mountain" (4.1.60) denotes that sensuous lexis adds to the pleasure of the spectacle.The masque also breaks up the action for the audience and smoothes away and notion of the play being morbid. This positive feel to the play foretells of a happy ending.

There is a human issue to consider. Prospero is a master and a Duke, but above all, he is a father. He demonstrates his love for his daughter by his constant warnings "if thou dost break her virgin knot before/ All sanctimonious ceremonies may/ with full and holy rite.../ no sweet aspersion shall the heavens let fall.../ but barren hate" (4.1.15-19). This is indeed a threat, but it should not be forgotten that a father who loves his daughter is worried about her well being. This human element propels the play to another level; that of empathy.

The use of magic throughout the play is very prominent and in this scene, the rest of the plays...

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Uploaded by:   scatzz

Date:   12/12/2001

Category:   Shakespeare

Length:   3 pages (571 words)

Views:   1908

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