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Christianity in Shakespeare's Tempest Essay

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The fact that Shakespeare was enveloped by a society steeped in Christian ideals cannot be disputed.  Plays such as the Tempest make this fact known.  The main plot and the subplots of the Tempest  can be extracted directly from the Bible. Prospero's character is largely the same as the god found in  Christianity.  Shakespeare wrote the Tempest  with the portrayal of a  Christian god and Christian motifs in mind.  Consider the following facts as evidence.  Both works begin with gods who possess power in the forms of words or books, and both gods use the written power to create. The power of the gods is mainly "white magic", a magic which attempts to bring about a good end. The creations later  become a facet for manipulation for the creators' magic. The repressed creations rebel, causing the gods to become vengeful.  After remorse caused from the rage, the gods sit back and give subjects control of their lives.  This pattern is followed by both Prospero and the Christian god.

            Prospero is a god.  He mirrors the "Bible's personification of a  God who commands the elements and the angels, who teases his offspring mercilessly, and who fabricated nature and people out of words"(2 Marx).  Both gods rely heavily upon the use of words to maintain their kingdom.  Caliban sees Prospero's power hailing from the magic books.  The reader learns this as Caliban is speaking to Stephano about  usurping Prospero's place on the island:

                                    Remember first to possess his books; for without them

                                    He's but a sot, as I am; nor hath not one spirit to command.      

                                    III.ii.91-94

 

            The Christian ...


... middle of paper ...


...lically where both stories leave off.

            In this brief examination of the Tempest, it becomes obvious that the play is a mirror image of the progression of events in the Bible.  This use of Christian elements in the play is not obvious upon first reading the play, but becomes undeniable as the action progresses.  The motif of Christianity in other Shakespearean works is not as structured and in-depth as the motif found in the Tempest. 

 

Works Cited

Evans, G. Blakemore.  The Riverside Shakespeare.  Houghton Mifflin, Boston:  1974.

Marx, Steven.  "Progeny:  Prospero's Books, Genesis, and the Tempest". Renaissance.  September 1996.

 Internet World Wide    Web: http//www.hull.ac.uk/Hull/EL_WEB/renforum/v1no2/marx.htm (September 1996).

Yancy, Philip.  The Bible.  New International Version.  Zondervan Bible Publishers


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