Discuss the use of imagery in the Tempest and relate the extract to the themes of the play

August 21, 2017 September 1st, 2019 Free Essays Online for College Students

At the start of this extract in the play a vengeful Ariel enters, taking credit for the shipwreck, and makes the banquet, which the three members of the royal party (Alonso, Antonio and Sebastian) were mulling over vanish.

Ariel’s sudden appearance accompanied by the way in which he does appear, seems to frighten the men, who draw their swords at the appearance of the harpy like image of Ariel.

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“Ariel like a harpy enters with thunder and lightning and claps his wings upon the table”

After Ariel finishes verbally attacking, and shaming the men, “you ‘mongst men, being most unfit to live”, “men like you would hang and drown their proper selves”.

Ariel’s words become Prospero’s and he speaks of his life and usurpation, over dramatising slightly to evoke a reaction out of the men, “Exposed onto the sea…him and his innocent child, for which foul deed licensed all the creatures, seas and shore against your peace”

Alonso recognizes Ariel’s words as being that of Prospero’s, and the guilt of Alonso, Antonio, and Sebastian begins to take them over, at the thought of Prospero being alive, and so nearby.

Prospero is transferring his anger here, through Ariel and in the middle of the extract does not seem to be at all forgiving, however at the end of the extract he depicts that if they say they are sorry for the wrong deeds they did to him, then he will offer them forgiveness, “and a clear life ensuing”. Prospero’s power is an underlying theme in this extract as he is the one summoning Ariel and causing food and torment to appear, Prospero is like God of the island and wants them to understand that if they want to have a happy life they have to ask for his forgiveness for their foul deeds.

At the very beginning of the extract there is an immediate stress on the word ‘are’, “you are three men of sin”, stating the fact that there is no way in which they cannot be men of sin, due to the bad deeds that they have done. When Prospero refers to the, “never-surfeited sea”, he could be referring to the fact that he himself will not be satisfied until he gets justice, either in the form of harming and tormenting them, or Antonio, Sebastian and Alonso asking him for their forgiveness, being humble, trusting and putting their future in his hands. So at this point in time in the extract Prospero feels in charge as he has the future of these three men in his hands, almost as if Prospero is God, which he is in essence on the island, due to the magical advantage he has over all others. There is a hint of dramatic Irony in Prospero’s speech as the main theme of the extract is; ‘if you say sorry, you will be forgiven’, not unlike the way in which adults tell children off when they are too young to understand the implications of their deeds, so perhaps Prospero is saying that the three members of the royal party did not understand the true length to which they went to usurp Prospero from his position of power, and they didn’t truly understand what they had done. By doing this he is showing he has forgiven them for doing their wrong in the beginning.

This extract sets the tone for the rest of the play as it is the first time the royal party realise that Prospero is in charge of this Island and in charge almost of their lives, therefore giving him the ultimate power he has always wanted and the royal party are subject to him. Through Ariel he gives long planned speeches as if he has been waiting for the moment for a long time and to say all the correct things. He indicates that he is the power that passes judgement on the royal party and the fact that if they do-not ask him for forgiveness they will certainly suffer, “Ling’ring perdition- worse than any death”, “upon your heads is nothing but hearts sorrow”, whilst still giving them a choice, the choice which they never gave him.

The metaphors of sleep and water are increasingly present in the play; “Ebbing men”, “Thou dost snore distinctly”, “I’ll teach you how to flow”, “As he that sleeps here swims”. All these metaphors have underlying meanings which present themselves in the form of plans for the murder of the king.

The whole Extract is rounded with sleep, the sleep could represent the calm at the beginning of the storm (The Tempest), and that Sebastian is in charge of this sleep as he changed the metaphor and Antonio and Sebastian constantly use the water and sleep related words to query each other on what to do.

Sebastian describes himself as “Standing water” in the play perhaps implying that due to his aristocratic ways he does not know how to handle the current situation, whereas Antonio does and shows that he knows by saying “I’ll teach you how to flow”. The imagery revealed at the beginning of the extract “they fell together all, as by a thunderstroke” describes the rapid tiredness of the other men and the strange way in which they all suddenly fell asleep, it also symbolises the start of the Tempest as it also starts with thunder, it could also represent the downfall that may have become of the king and the sleeping men.

The very clear imagery described by Antonio of “a crown dropping upon thy head” symbolises the fact that perhaps Antonio has been thinking about killing the king for some time and his plan is fresh in his memory. By describing this Antonio is trying to persuade and push Sebastian into agreeing with this evil deed. Antonio is almost bribing and teasing Sebastian with the thought of being king, and all the advantages and good things that they will receive. Antonio’s use of imagery and metaphors hides the underlying fact that they want to murder Alonso and makes the whole plan seem a good thing to do and covers up the cruelty and mystery of death and murder and the guilt they would experience afterwards, he doesn’t however mention this, as he is trying to persuade Sebastian into doing the deed for their own benefit.

The main themes of the play are of magic, sleep and water. This play mentions all of these things in detail, the magic that Ariel uses to send the kingsmen to sleep, also the remaining image of the Tempest that Prospero concocted, through the visual representation of the thunder strike.

The sleep motif that is present throughout the play is especially obvious in this passage as it is mentioned a lot, especially used as metaphors to cover up the real meaning of Sebastian and Antonio’s words of treachery, “Thou let’st thy fortune sleep-die rather; wink’st whiles thou art waking”.

Water is also a strong motif throughout the play and in some cases describes the changes that the characters go through, how their flows change, “I’ll teach you how to flow..Do so – to ebb”.

These main themes are specifically interwoven into the play by Shakespeare to create a sense of change and knowledge of circumstances so the reader better understands and can relate further to the storyline, this was especially important to the structure of the play when being performed on stage to keep people interested.

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