The Unrelenting Quest For Power In William Shakespeare's The Tempest

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The unrelenting quest for power is a driving force behind William Shakespeare’s The Tempest; it is an attempt to seek understanding regarding the natural tendency of humankind to seek authority over others. The play features various exertions of control of one character over another and questions the long term stability of a system of authority. Shakespeare’s work offers a critical analysis of the pattern that exists when an individual craves power and how quick some are to take advantage of a situation in which they can accomplish this goal. Subsequently, The Tempest becomes highly comparable to controversial early Colonization attempts. Because often times these decisions are made based on personal or cultural ethics, the acts become unbounded …show more content…
At first, the relationship between the two was of mutual benefit for all parties. Prospero taught Caliban how to express himself through language and Caliban showed Prospero “all the qualities o’th’ isle.” To Caliban, this was sacred land; a place of “sweet airs that give delight and hurt not”. Soon, however, Prospero saw an opportunity for power. Prospero took advantage of Caliban’s attempt to “violate the honor” of Miranda. Caliban became the slave and Prospero the sole controller of the entire island. This situation greatly mirrors the exploitation of indigenous people that took place through colonization. Towards the end of Shakespeare’s life, many countries were attempting to develop these “unknown” lands. Colonization often features one group coming into an unknown land with an agenda based on the belief that they have something to teach to people who live differently than they do. Shakespeare offers this negative perception of colonization through Prospero’s character. Prospero could not remain content with being a dweller on the island like Caliban. He, instead, saw an opportunity to take advantage of Caliban’s initial curiosity and usurp his …show more content…
Although they serve as Alonso’s right-hand men and appear loyal on the surface, they cannot help their unsatisfied urge to acquire even more power. So once the opportunity presents itself while the rest of the men are sleeping, Antonio is quick to hatch a plan that would to usurp Alonso’s power. Shakespeare provides the necessary details behind Antonio and Sebastian’s motivations so the reader can decide how justified this plot was; the next heir in line, Claribel, lives “ten leagues beyond man’s life”. What is shocking is how quickly Sebastian is able to turn on his loyalties to the king, his own brother. This act of treason is something that Antonio is not new to, however. After all, he usurped his own brother Prospero out of Naples, bragging without remorse about how well his “garments sit upon” him now, much “feater than before”. This attempt to legitimize their actions stems from the belief that if it worked well in the past, it will work as well now. Shakespeare is using this plot sequence in order to establish that although an action may have a clear motivation, it does not automatically become justified. This conversation between Antonio and Sebastian details how quickly some will leave behind their own morals in the pursuit of power. Not even the structure of their own government is

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