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The Tempest: Allegorical To The Bible

1274 words - 6 pages

The Tempest is not a pure fantasy tale, but a purposeful allegory. The characters in the play are all representative of characters found in the bible. The first, and perhaps most persuasive, arguement would be Prospero symbolizing God. Prospero is seen to be a representative of God for several reasons.
First, he is obviously in control of the actions and has an omnipotent quality. This has been demonstrated by several scenes throughout the play. Consider the power that Prospero possesses, as shown in the Epilogue at the closing of the play:
I have bedimmed
The mooontide sun, called forth the mutinous winds,
And 'twixt the green sea and the azured vault
Set roaring war. . . . ...view middle of the document...

. . and do pronounce by me
Lingering perdition, worse than any death
Can be at one, shall step by step attend
You and your ways; whose wraths to guard you from,
Which here, in the most desolate isle, else falls
Upon your heads, is nothing, but heart's sorrow,
And a clear life ensuing.

Shakespeare tells us, through Ariel, that Prospero can pass sentance of lingering perdition, but whose mercy can be gained through repentance. This leads into the role of God as the Savior of Man. This is shown through his quote:
They being pentient,
The sole drift of my purpose doth extend
Not a frown further (V. i. 28-30).

Here, Prosperso states that, since repentance has occurred, there is no more ill will. This reflects the Christian belief that repentance can allow the forgiveness of sins. Also, Prospero is seen as the "master of the island"--that is, the all-powerful force controlling it. He manipulates the elements to produce his desired effects; two excellent examples of this are the tempest he creates in order to trap his brother and his companions, as well as the mock-feast he creates to manipulate them. The parallels to God in these instances are obvious.
A final parallel between Prospero and God can be found in his Epilogue, lines 15- 20.
And my ending is despair
Unless I be relieve'd by prayer,
Which pierces so that it assaults
Mercy itself and frees all faults.
As you from crimes would pardon'd be.
Let your indulgence set me free (Epilogue, 15).

This is as close a paraphrase of Christ's injunction on prayer in Ther Sermon on the Mount or of the words on forgiveness in His prayer as could be found in literature (Coursen 330).
In addition to Prospero being symbolic of God, Caliban is symbolic of Satan. This is evident for several reasons. He is referred to as Devil by Prospero, and is represented as the "lost sheep" in Prospero's flock--much the same as Lucifer was once an Angel of God who left the fold. Prospero cannot change the mind of Caliban, he can only read it and hope to thwart his plots. Caliban's status as an outsider is shown in the following quote:
A devil, a born devil, on whose nature
Nurture can never stick! on whom my pains,
Humanely taken, all, all lost, quite lost (IV. I. 188-93)!

Caliban's ethics and morals also help reinforce his representation of Satan. Caliban has a very different sense of morals when compared to the average human. Through his interaction with Propsero and Miranda at the beginning of the...

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