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Slavery In The Tempest Essay, Research Paper

Slavery in The Tempest

Slavery occurs on a widespread basis in The Tempest. Occurrence of slavery to many of the characters, all in different ways, helps to provide the atmosphere for the play. The obvious slaves are not the only slaves, as Prospero has basically got everybody entranced when he wants, to do whatever he wants with them. He can also control the way that they think.

The first and most obvious slave is ariel. Ariel is an airy spirit who is promised his freedom by Prospero if his job is done well. His job was to entrance the visitors to the island under Prospero’s control. “What Ariel! My industrious servant, Ariel!” That is what Prospero said in act 4, scene 1, line 33. He was talking to his slave, Ariel, who entranced the visitors to the island.

Another example could be Alonso, the king of Naples. Since he is not in Naples, but on Prospero’s island, and under his control, he is a slave in a way. In act 3, scene 3, lines 95-102, Alonso admits complete and utter loss of control. “O, it is monstrous, monstrous! Methought the billows spoke and told me of it; The winds did sing it to me; and the thunder, that deep and dreadful organ pipe, pronounced the name of Prosper; it did bass my trespass. Therefore my son i’ th’ ooze is bedded; and I’ll seek him deeper than e’er plummet sounded and with him there lie mudded.” He is telling us that Prospero is in control of him.

Prospero, Trinculo, and Stephano are in control of Caliban, the deformed son of Sycorax, and therefore Caliban is their slave. “Monster lay-to your fingers; help to bear this away where my hogstead of wine is, or I’ll turn you out of my kingdom. Go to, carry this. In act 4, scene 1, lines 250-253, Stephano told Caliban to carry something for him, or he would be out of his kingdom. He treats Caliban like dirt because he is their slave.

In act 4, scene 1, lines 262-265, Prospero is describing how all of his former friends are now pretty much under his control, even though they don’t know it, and enslaved to Prospero. “At this hour lies at my mercy all mine enemies. Shortly shall my labors end, and thou shalt have the air at freedom.”

In act 5, scene 1, lines 7-10, it states “Confined together in the same fashion as you gave in charge, just as you left them-all prisoners, sir, in the line grove which weather-fends your cell.” Ariel is telling Prospero that the visitors are under his spell, as they still are the way that he left them. They cannot do much until he breaks the spell.

In conclusion, The Tempest is a very good play to demonstrate the monstrosity of slavery in society. The play teaches lessons about slavery, and about classes of people, and how they react to their surroundings.


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