Morality And Evil In William Shakespeare's The Tempest

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Evil is deliberately disregarding a “system of values and principles of conduct,” which is essentially being immoral or unethical (“Morality”). The Tempest by William Shakespeare explores matters concerning human desires, specifically, the aspiration to acquire and maintain power over a population. Through exile and shipwreck characters are introduced to an island where previous forms of hierarchy are questioned, and consequently thrown into turmoil. The mystical island not only elicits the characters deepest desires, but provides a path to act upon their desires. Lords dream to be kings of the island, and servants yearn to be released from their service. Stephano and Gonzalo, both in high position, express their ambition to become leaders …show more content…
Gonzalo dreams of a utopian society free of hierarchy, yet with himself as the king (Stewart). Furthermore, Caliban, a slave to Prospero, displays a desire to not only be freed from Prospero’s restraint, but also to rule the island as he once did before Prospero arrived and conquered. The play portrays sovereignty as the path to ultimate power, which will allow the characters to escape past and current struggles. However, the quest to gain and restore power creates additional struggles, which are present throughout the play. Through contrasting character’s ideals and backgrounds, Shakespeare’s The Tempest suggests that power has the ability to arouse the inherent evil in all, as the lure of power through reigning a land evokes nefarious …show more content…
He states to Prospero, “This islands mine by Sycorax, my/ mother, /which thou tak’st from me” (1.2.470-471), as Caliban voices his anger towards being exploited. He, who first inhabited the island, wishes revenge upon Prospero. Caliban believes he controlled the island when he was alone, and the loss of power brings about the desire to restore it by seeking revenge. Until Stephano arrived and provided Caliban a path for retribution, Caliban expressed his anger through cursing Prospero so “all the infections that the sun sucks up/ from bogs” (2.2.1040-1041) falls on him. The anger Caliban feels is significant, as it reveals his obsessive desire for revenge and power, as well as his evil nature, since revenge is an unethical undertaking. Consequently, Caliban’s obsession for revenge results in him being trapped in another master-servant relationship with Stephano, as Caliban says, “Thou shalt be lord [of the isle], and I’ll serve thee” (3.2.1409), in his attempt to recruit Stephano to murder Prospero. Caliban relinquishes the possibility himself ruling the island because he becomes fixated with the chance of murdering Prospero, which is shown when he lists possible ways to kill Prospero. However, following Caliban’s complex nature, he constantly indicates a desire to rule the island, which is at

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