The Tempest

Act 1;1. Dramatic device of the “tempestuous noise of thunder and lightning heard.” Highlights the destructive immensity of the storm, and it’s overwhelming violent nature. Creates a sense of shock. Manifestation of Prospero’s power, rage and desire for revenge. Positions the audience right at the beginning.
Act 1;2. Ariel overhears Ferdinand yell “Hell is empty; all the devils are here.” Hell-like imagery. Tempest is hell-like, symbolic of Prospero’s own hell-like state of anger, rage and desire for revenge.
Act 1;2 Prospero to Caliban, “What, ho! Slave! Caliban!” Exclamatory tone. “Thou poisonous slave, got by the devil himself” Language of imprisonment, violent. Prospero’s repeated abuse of Caliban highlights the depth of his miserable and rage-filled nature. His rage is manifested in his abuse of Caliban.
Act 1;1 Prospero to Caliban, “If thou mere murmu’st, I will rend an oak and peg thee in his knotty entrails til’ thou hast howled away 12 winters.” Violent imagery, aggressive and threatening tone. Depth of his vicious nature evident in his treatment of Caliban. Language of imprisonment is reflective of Prospero’s imprisonment inside his horrible nature.
Act 2;2 In his soliloquy, Caliban poetically conveys his torment at the hands of Prospero, using violent animal imagery: “All wound with adders who with cloven tongues do hiss me into madness.” Shows extent of Prospero’s power, domination and abuse of Caliban.
Act 2;2 Prospero to Ferdinand, accusing him of being a traitor, “I’ll manacle thy neck and feet together.” Threatening, physically violent language of imprisonment permeates Prospero’s dialogue Demonstrates that Prospero, at this stage, is a deeply morally flawed individual. Contrast with his later language towards Ferdinand and Miranda’s blessing.
Act 1;2. Prospero has abandoned his dukedom in order to enagage with magic. “Rapt in secret studies” use of the word rapt which implies being completely absorbed, alliteration emphasizes this. Also, “my library was dukedom large enough.” In his obsession with magic and the study of it, he negates his responsibility as duke. Not taking responsibility – his nature at this point in the play.
Act 3;1. Prospero blesses Miranda and Ferdinand’s marriage, using beautiful celestial and gentle imagery, “Heavens rain grace on that which breeds between them.” Use this in contrast to Prospero’s earlier abuse of Ferdinand, and even his violent language towards Caliban, e.g. “Malignant thing.” Prospero has been influenced by his experience of the love between M & F, and we are beginning to see this process take shape – this discovery process of love and freedom. There is no language of imprisonment here.
Act 4;1. Prospero celebrates a rich and beautiful masque. Aural and visual imagery. Goddess Juno sings; “honours, riches, marriage-blessing, long continuance and increasing.” The masque is a spectacle designed to engage the audience with the concepts which drive the play. The masque is a projection of Prospero’s transformed values and attitudes which emphasise abundance, fertility, harmony and union.
Act 4;1. Prospero in an aside; “I had forgot that foul conspiracy of the beast Caliban and his confederates.” Violent language, ‘foul conspiracy’, ‘beast Caliban’. Masque abruptly ends; “melted into thin air.” Prospero almost makes a breakthrough, and reaches this final discovery, however we know that as he remembers the plot it highlights the process Prospero is undertaking. Provides a contrast to the joy, harmony, love, union and bounteous abundance of the masque- Prospero’s discovery has not yet come to fruition.
The Masque In this masque, Prospero is promoting the power of love, harmony, family and union – almost makes a breakthrough. The Masque is a turning point in the play. However, towards the end of the play we see these changes develop more rapidly, as he embarks on his final stage of discovery.
Act 4;1 Prospero “be cheerful sir…these cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces… shall dissolve, and like this insubstantial pageant faded leave not a rack behind.” Imagery, metaphor of the futility of life as a pageant. Listing examples. Contrast to language of “Malignant thing”. Prospero makes a minor discovery here, that everything in this temporal world will fade, will go. It shows this process. He understands that he should let go of anything that keeps him chained to this world, yet he still goes to punish the conspirators. Speech reveals the change in Prospero.
Act 4;1. Despite this, he goes on to refer to Caliban as a “devil, a born devil, on whose nature nurture can never stick”, and resolves to hurt the conspirators, “I will plague them all.” The violent language here, repetition of devil, alliteration of ‘n’ sound. Shows how the process is evolving, the character of Caliban is a reflection of Prospero’s dark side. Despite his talks of the futility and need for harmony in life, he still resolves to punish him. He is intent on taking his revenge.
Act 4;1. Prospero lists to Ariel the things he wants Ariel to do to them. Extremely violent imagery and language, “Go, charge my goblins that they grind their joints with dry convulsions, shorten up their sinews…” Continues language of torment and punishment. He wants to inflict pain and torture. Prospero’s nature: he repeats the phrase “mine enemies”, which he used to describe them in Act 3, Scene 1, when he says, “At this hour, lies at my mercy all mine enemies.” At this point in the play, Prospero is at the pinnacle of his power, everyone is at his mercy.
Act 5;1. Prospero is at the height of his power; “my charms crack not, my spirits obey”. Language of power. He is at the height of his power, which makes it all the more meaningful what he does next.
Act 5;1. Prospero says “the rarer action is in virtue, than in vengeance.” Repetition of ‘v’ sound, alliteration highlights the point. Juxtaposition of the ideas- virtue as opposed to vengeance. Prospero says that he still believes that what he has done is wrong, but he is choosing a path of virtue, and forgive, rather than punish those who had done him wrong. MONUMENTAL MOMENT. Compare to an earlier quote, say, “Manacle thy neck and feet together.”
Act 5;1. Prospero: “I’ll break my staff, bury it certain fathoms in the earth…I’ll drown my book.” Hyperbolic language, physical imagery. Staff and books are a symbol of magical power. Prospero is showing responsibility for his actions, and committing to a transformative path. Contrast with Act 1;2, e.g. “rapt in secret studies.
Act 5;1. Prospero embarks on a ritualistic act of forgiveness and release. He starts this by releasing Ariel, to which Ariel replies in a rhyming couplet, “merrily, merrily shall I live now, under the blossom that hangs on the bough.” Repetition. Beautiful imagery. Contrast this to Ariel’s servitude to Prospero at the start of the play. In Act 1;2, Prospero asks, “What is’t thou canst demand?”, to which Ariel replies succinctly “My liberty.”, and Prospero replies, “Before the time be out? No More.” Short sentences, rhetorical questions.
Act 5;1. Prospero’s final act of forgiveness is towards Caliban: “this thing of darkness, I acknowledge of mine.” Colour imagery of darkness, shows the depth of his nature. This line is highly significant, as it shows the depth of Prospero’s discovery. He is recognizing and dealing with the darkness within himself that is reflected by Caliban – and in this way, he is journeying towards freedom.
Epilogue: “But release me from my bands, with the help of your good hands” Rhyming couplet, language of imprisonment (bands). Prospero asks only to be set free: “Let your indulgence set me free” – their applause symbolic of freedom. The epilogue is an Elizabethean custom/convention, wherein the actors ask for applause. However, Shakespeare involves the audience in a more meaningful way, as a vehicle for Prospero’s release, and to reach that final discovery of freedom. Shakespeare has used spectacles to engage the audience with the ideas of the play, and now they are symbolically engaged in Prospero’s act of asking for forgiveness. End of Process.
Discovery is transformative Example 1: Treatment of CalibanExample 2: FerdinandExample 3: Comparison between the first stage directions and the ‘rarer action’Example 4: His responsibility towards his dukedom
Discovery is aided by the intercession of others: Prospero is aided on his journey of discovery by experiencing and observing the actions of others – three main examples are Miranda, F&M’s love, and Ariel.
Discoveries made by Prospero 1. Forgiveness, empathy, love, and compassion2. Personal Freedom
What does the love between Ferdinand and Miranda represent? The discovery of their parallels and equality reflected in the internal image they see of each other.
What is the amina (Miranda) seen as? The erotic sexual ideal, feminine image. Miranda represents the female aspects of the male psyche such as empathy, gentleness, tenderness thats unable to be corroded by the untamable male nature.