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Analysis of The Tempest by Shakespeare

Example 1

Often without realizing it people judge other people by how they look and not who they are. In the play The Tempest by William Shakespeare, many of the characters poorly judged one another due to their appearance. Miranda’s first sighting of Ferdinand, Caliban’s mistaken identity as a monster, and Prospero’s pretending Miranda is marrying for love and pretending he doesn’t want the marriage are all examples of how people are manipulated by their perceptions.

Often when people are attracted to the opposite sex a lot of it has to do with first impressions, which ultimately leads to their appearance. When Miranda first spies Ferdinand her initial reaction was that he was the love of her life.

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“ There’s nothing ill can dwell in such a temple:

If the ill spirit have so fair a house,

Good things will strive to dwell with”.

(1,ii, 457)

Miranda assumes that Ferdinand is the one, love of her life, which she expresses, in the above quote. She believes that there is nothing wrong with him and he is the ideal person for her. Throughout the play Miranda never actually gets the chance to know him, all she was basing it on is his looks, and that is the third person she had actually seen since she had been on the island.

Considering Ferdinand is Prince, if Miranda married him they would all be able to go home which resulted in another motive other than his looks for the marriage. Although nothing bad happened between the two of them it was obvious that the relationship was based purely on each other’s appearance of one another. Miranda was manipulated by her own perception of Ferdinand into getting married.

Caliban’s appearance is one that most would think is unordinary, which has resulted in his mistaken identity of being a monster. While Caliban was wandering around the island cursing Prospero and blaming him for all the hardship he suffers he sees Trinculo, believing that he is one of Prospero’s spirits, he throws himself to the ground hoping he will be unnoticed. However, Trinculo sees him and is unsure of what he sees at first.

“What have we here? A man or a

fish? Dead or alive? A fish: he smells like a fish; a

very ancient and fish-like smell; a kind of, not of the

newest, poor-John. A strange fish! Were I in England

now, as once I was, and had but this fish painted, not

a holiday fool there but would give a piece of sliver:

there would this monster make a man: any strange beast

there makes a man: when they will lay out then to see a

deal Indian. Legged like a man! And his fins like arms!”

(2,ii, 24)


Trinculo was interested in knowing how much money he could make if he brought such a creature like Caliban back to Naples. Later on, he realizes that Caliban is no such creature but a human being like himself. Just as Miranda perceived Ferdinand to be her ideal man, Trinculo mistook Caliban as a monster from his external appearance.

Of all the characters in the play, Prospero is the best at hiding his ultimatums. When Miranda and Ferdinand agree to become husband and wife, Prospero expresses his delight in their union.

“So glad of this as they I cannot be

who are surprised withal; but my rejoicing

at nothing can be more. I’ll to my book;

for yet, ere supper-time, must I perform

much business appertaining.”

(3,i, 91)


Although he expresses his feelings of delight, Prospero is pretending Miranda is marrying for love, and pretending he doesn’t want the marriage. By making Ferdinand chop wood to prove his love for Miranda, Prospero furthers the act of his reluctance to their marriage. Once again Prospero uses the theme of appearance vs. reality in that he appears reluctant of their marriage but it is always what he wanted.

People’s perceptions are manipulated by their external appearances throughout the play The Tempest. Miranda’s first sighting of Ferdinand was based fully on his appearance and they decided to get married knowing nothing about each other, Caliban was continuously mistaken for a monster which resulted in misperceptions of who he truly is. Prospero pretending Miranda is marrying for love, and pretending he doesn’t want the marriage is a deception of his true feelings towards the situation.

Their marriage will get him what he always wanted which is back home. The characters in The Tempest should have paid more attention to who each other was not based on their external appearance. Sometimes it pays off not to judge someone by their appearance and pay closer attention to the qualities that matter.


Example 2

Throughout time various tales have been told in diverse ways to provide us with entertainment. The most popular and interesting ones sometimes make it by as classics. There are many different elements to a classic play or novel, which a number of authors can produce. Shakespeare was perhaps one of the best known classic authors to generate such plays. The Tempest is one of William Shakespeare’s plays that undeniably deserves to be considered a classic because of the use of language to convey meaning, the moral lessons taught, and the characteristics presented by Prospero.

The way Shakespeare uses language in the play is the first reason for the play being considered a classic. One way the language skills are displayed is by putting depth meaning into a word. The word “maze” is one detail that shows depth in meaning by describing how the noblemen have been travelling around the island, which is really created to be a maze for them (Shakespeare 56). Bate, is another detail that means to leave out of the account but is sarcastically used to answer a question of accepting a person (29). Other examples are lines, which also contain intensity in meaning. Fernando speaks the phrase “the white cold virgin snow upon my heart abates the ardour of my liver” when he proclaims his love for Miranda (64). Another detail used in the play is when Antonio says “his word is more than the miraculous harp” which refers to widow Dido whose word is more powerful than Amphion, the bard who raised the walls of Thebes by playing his harp (29). The usage of language assisted the play in becoming a classic.

The moral lessons being taught give The Tempest an additional reason for being a classic play. Alonso’s change of character and attitude is one of the moral lessons taught in the play. Alonso apologizes to Prospero for plotting against him many years ago (78-79). Alonso also approves of Ferdinand and Miranda’s marriage (83). Another way morality is displayed is when Antonio learns his lesson. The first action Antonio takes is apologizing to his brother Prospero for betraying him and taking over his dukedom (61). Further action is not refusing to give Prospero his dukedom back when he claims the title (79). Alonso and Antonio’s moral values changed as they gained knowledge of their mistakes and learned from them.

Prospero’s characteristics are a final reason why he is a great character to put in a classic play. The way Prospero was forgiving is one example. After Ariel is freed Prospero also forgives his brother who regrets betraying him (79). Finally, he invites all of the noblemen to his house for dinner and relaxation to show that there are no hard feelings (86-87). Prospero’s decision to forfeit his magical powers is one more way to show that he’s willing to change. One way of doing this is by giving Ariel freedom, which provided him with various magical sources (77). Additional fixation is sacrificing all of his magical powers he acquired (88). Prospero’s role demonstrates a major influence on the play.

William Shakespeare’s The Tempest undeniably has earned the right to be considered a classic play. The language skills presented by Shakespeare helped make the play seem fashionable and sophisticated. Another explanation for why the play was so popular is because of the moral lessons that were taught in the play. The final influence was Prospero’s character, which gave the play a classic appeal. These three reasons help conclude that this play was a classic from the day it was written.

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Analysis of The Tempest by Shakespeare. (2021, Mar 04). Retrieved October 25, 2021, from