The Tempest_ a Critical Analysis Essay

I have answered the following question (my thesis is underlined):

3) It has been theorized that Shakespeare based the character Prospero on himself. Where can you see this? What do Prosper and the play reveal about the theater? How does Prosperos final monologue finally reveal?

In his play The Tempest Shakespeare gives us an allegory of the artist as creator. It is his last play with full authorship, and it seems that the playwright wants to bid farewell to his art with a distinctive statement about the true function of the author. In it he shows us how the author is in complete control of the world he creates, and that he is able to impose his own values on the character he creates as he guides their fates.

From the first howling tempest that wrecks a ship peopled by kings and nobles, to the last wringing of applause from the audience that secures his final release, Prospero is the author of all that takes place in the time frame of the play. Every happening on the island is planned by Prospero and is meticulously executed by means of his magic. However, it is a mistake to judge them as being mere puppets to Prospero’s urging.

His magic is the fruit of the pure pursuit of knowledge; it is not mere trickery or hypnotization that he effects. He does not induce emotions onto those that fall under his spell. He merely shepherds the pre-existing emotions, so that they play out towards a just conclusion. Justice is seen entirely from the perspective of Prospero. He has suffered through the treachery of his brother Antonio, lost the Dukedom of Milan and is exiled on a desert island. He is now resolved to correct this wrong-doing, to which purpose delves into the art of magic on his desert vigil with his daughter.

We know that Shakespeare identifies with Prospero by the repeated parallelisms between Prospero’s world and the theatre. Books are the root cause of his downfall; he confides to us that his avidity for books distracted him from duties as the Duke of Milan, which allowed his brother and rival Dukes to plot his removal. Books again become his means to restoration of his sovereignty, for they are the source of his magic on his desert island of exile. He wields his magic to become the arbiter of the fates of all who have ventured on his island, managing the events with the precision of a chess game, until he has managed to correct the injustice done against him 12 years previously. Shakespeare is telling us that it is within the powers of the author to wring justice within his art.

Read also  Romeo and Juliet Movie Comparison

Yet he laments “We are such stuff / As dreams are made on, and our little life / Is rounded with a sleep” (4.1.155-157). Justice that is wrought within the confines of the theatre is in vain if there be no path back to real life. To this end Prospero seeks release after he has drowned his books: “Bury it certain fathoms in the earth, / And deeper than did ever plummet sound / I’ll drown my book” (5.1.55-57). This act is symbolic of the playwright closing his play. The make-believe world of fiction needs to come to an end, and Prospero implores this end entreatingly. In order for his art to succeed he must step off the stage.

The entreaty is made most specific in Prospero’s parting monologue. This is a direct address to the audience asking for them to release him from the confines of the theatre. Now that his “charms are all o’erthrown” he is sinking in strength and is at the mercy of the audience. He asks them not to confine him in his world of fiction, especially so since the real world beckons, where he has regained his lost Dukedom. His “project fails” if they do not join in with the applause of their hands and cheer with their voices, which becomes the breath on which he will be able to set sail back to Milan (Epi. 1-12). By urging the audience to applause Shakespeare is in effect asking for the recognition of his art, for thereby lies its success.

Works Cited

Shakespeare, William. “The Tempest.” The Complete Works of Shakespeare, Vol. 3. Ed. Peter Alexander. London: Collins, 1965.

More Essays

  • An Analysis of Freytag’s Five Steps in Shakespeare’s _the Tempest_

    In this essay I will analyze William Shakespeare's "The Tempest" using Gustav Freytag's five phases which are: exposition, point of conflict, rising action, climax, and denouement.  I will first begin with the exposition phase.  The exposition phase includes a description of the chief protagonist and...

  • William Shakespeare’s the Tempest and History

    Literature often reflects the times it is written in. Often, great stories come from the events of the day or some oft-talked about idea or thought. History, society and culture can mostly be studied well through the literature of that specific period. Here, we take a comprehensive look into The Tempest,...

  • Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare

    "I am always directed by you" – Mariana "I am directed by you" – Isabella. Both these lines are addressed to the Duke. What do they suggest about women status in this play? What other evidence can you find to support your view? Measure for Measure is a play written by William Shakespeare in the seventeenth...

  • The Shakespeare Authorship Conspiracy

    William Shakespeare was one of the most popular playwrights in history. With 38 plays, 154 sonnets and many other poems, Shakespeare's work has been performed around the world more often than any other playwright. One gentleman, Hank Whittemore, created a blog that is strictly related to the notion that...

  • Intersections of Race, Class, and Gender in the Tempest

    In Shakespeare's play, ‘The Tempest', the characters of Prospero and Caliban, represent two different extremes on the social spectrum: the ruler, and the ruled. Their positions on the social hierarchy are largely due to the fact that Caliban responds almost wholly to passions, feelings of pleasure; his...

  • Sonnet 116 _ Literary Analysis

    Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments. Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove. Oh no! It is an ever fixed mark That looks on tempests and is never shaken. It is the star to every wandering bark, Whose worth's unknown, although...

  • Sonnet 116 Theme Analysis

    "Sonnet 116", William Shakespeare's most famous sonnet, describes the trials true love faces, but also how no matter what, love is an ever present hope. Love is constantly being tested through outside forces, and time's unavoidable influence upon it. For love to work and be strong, the couple must "[a]dmit...

  • Sonnet 18

    The poem Sonnet 18 was written by William Shakespeare. A poet from the 17th century who was a renowned writer for his works on theater and poems. Sonnet 18 describes the power of love and immortality of the poem and himself as long as men walk the earth. He gives a message of eternal beauty and love through...

  • Midsummer Night’s Dream as a Comedy

    Q. In what ways is A Midsummer Night's Dream a Shakespearean comedy? A Midsummer Night's Dream is a classic Shakespearean romantic comedy. A genre, that attempts to catch the viewer's heart with the combination of love and humor. It is light-hearted and usually places the protagonists in a humorous...

  • A Midsummer Nights Dream Journal

    I am personally not a big fan of Shakespeare although by reviewing the play A Midsummer night's dream, I'm starting to like Shakespeare's different ideas and how most of his writing and plays involve falling in love and such. This play is mostly about four couples falling in love with the wrong person...

Read also  A Midsummer Nights Dream Journal