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Art and Nature in Shakespeare's The Tempest Essay

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   Shakespeare is one of the greatest artists the human race has ever produced.  In the Tempest, he decides to determine which is more powerful – art or nature?  He symbolizes art through civilization and nature through man and his natural place on Earth.  Through the plot, Shakespeare reveals his own beliefs concerning which force is greater.  The Tempest shows the respectable differences between art and nature, but eventually concedes that art is weaker and must bend itself to nature.

In The Tempest, Shakespeare’s Prospero has gotten himself into trouble by entertaining an insatiable thirst for knowledge.  Prospero’s downfall was brought about because he valued knowledge and art over pure power.  Through Prospero, Shakespeare questions the validity of man’s quest for art and beauty.  However, the question is resolved in the end of the play when Prospero once again becomes a Duke, doing so through art.  In this, Shakespeare shows that art is in fact useful.  In the beginning, art is questioned, but in the end it proves to be Prospero’s most powerful saving grace, all the while ultimately bowing to nature. 

Shakespeare presents the influences of both nature and art throughout the play, ultimately with nature prevailing.  The tempest he creates in the first act, the anchor that sets into motion the events of the play, is wholly dependent on nature's own capacities.  Ariel stirs up the winds and sea to fr...


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...ween nature and art.  He is careful not to dismiss art as unworthy simply by being the weaker force, but rather regards it as a unique force that must succumb to that which is superior. Shakespeare's stance on the subject of art versus nature is aesthetic, allowing both forces to compete equally, yet ending with the ultimate success of nature.   

Bibliography

Meller, A., Moon, G.T. Literary Shakespeare Sydney: Canon Publications 1993.

Lecture on "The Tempest" C. Holmes 1988.

Shakespeare, W. The Tempest. Ed. Sutherland, J.R. 1990.

Mikhail M. Morozor, The Individualization of Shakespeare's Characters through Imagery", Shakespeare Survey. 1989.

"Tempest & Court Masques" By H. C. Sherwood


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