Summary: William Shakespeare's play "The Tempest" displays examples of sibling rivalry, hunger for power, and cruelty toward slaves to show one's willingness to betray others, including members of one's own family, where power is involved.
"Good wombs have borne bad sons"(Act 1, Sc.2, Line 143) says Miranda after she hears of the things Antonio had done in the past. Prospero tells how his own brother, Antonio, went behind his back to remove him from power and claim Prospero's Dukedom for his own. Antonio had worked with Alonso, the king of Naples, to raise an army and drive Prospero into the hands of death. Trying to kill his only brother that he has known for his entire life, Antonio wanted to have the power that Prospero had.
"Draw thy sword. One stroke shall free thee from the tribute which thou payest, and I the king shall love thee"(Act 2, Sc. 1, Line 134-136) says Sebastian. After Ariel sends Gonzalo and Alonso into a deep sleep, Antonio suggests to Sebastian that he should kill his brother Alonso. He explains while his brother sleeps, there is a chance for Sebastian to become the king of Naples by killing him. So Sebastian tries killing Alonso. Even a strong bond as the brotherhood of two men is not strong enough when power is involved.
"In my own cell, till thou didst seek to violate the honor of my child"(Act 1, Sc.2, Line 417-418) says Prospero. Caliban had raped Prospero's only daughter Miranda and he wasn't even disappointed for what he did. Caliban replied by saying "Would't had been done! Thou didst prevent me. I had peopled else this isle with Calibans."(Act 1, Sc.2, Line 419-421) Caliban was saying he wishes it had been done and if Prospero didn't stop him he would have gotten children from Miranda. This description of what Caliban had done to Miranda shows the cruelty of Caliban.
William Shakespeare's play, The Tempest, uses sibling rivalry, hunger for power, and cruelty of slaves to show man's betrayal to man with more power. Many men would betray their family that they have known and loved, just so they could have a glimpse of power.
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Like all Shakespeare’s plays, there are themes, motifs, and underlying messages about the human disposition that are going on all at the same time. Although these messages seem foggy and are difficult to decode I think I may have stumbled upon one element of his prose that remains constant in The Tempest. In the play, water and all the language surrounding the liquid, are uttered during times that represent a change in fortune or power for the characters. Much of the play surrounds itself with prose about water, sea life, storms, ships, etc. There is a moment in the second act where Gonzalo, Antonio, and Sebastian converse. Gonzalo states “that our garments, being as they were, drenched in the sea, hold notwithstanding their freshness and glosses, being rather new-dyed than stained with salt water.” (II;i,61-63) Garments can show what class a member of society is categorized as. We discussed in class that when a garment is worn and washed a number of times, not only does the value of the clothing degrade, but so does the social standing of whoever may be wearing that item. Water fades the clothing of these individuals while at sea. Regardless of their social standing, whoever comes into contact with the sea, feels its presence; which is really a loaded concept. Shakespeare uses the idea of the liquidity of water to tell us something about the liquidity and unstable nature of all things. Everything eventually fades, drifts, is worn out, recedes, etc. These are all words and phrases that have connotations to the ocean or water. Every man cannot escape his eventual decline. Man came from the ocean and will return to it. To avoid anymore ambiguity, I will discuss what Antonio and Sebastian’s replies mean to this idea. “If but one of his pockets could speak, would it not say he lies?.” “Ay or very falsely pocket up his report.” (II;i,64-66) The viewing of a pocket can reveal what color the pocket used to be: a worn, lighter hue. This fading of color vehicles the idea of man’s inability to last in any condition(physically, socially, mentally, emotionally). Regardless of what the men’s social status was, man will eventually be weathered as all things are. Their physical and social facades are much the same. All will be weathered.