Shakespeare's The Tempest Essay

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The Tempest raises many questions regarding the formation of authority and power. Is hierarchy understood as natural or as constructed? Also, what are the consequences when authority is usurped? This paper will attempt to answer these questions in a succinct manner using textual references to solidify its arguments. As the play progresses, Prospero constructs the hierarchy in such a way as to return things to their "natural" state. Any type of usurpation, whether attempted or successful, will always end up with power back in its rightful place, and most of the time with a lesson learned.
The events that take place in the play are all made possible by the original usurpation against Prospero, the right Duke of Milan by Antonio, his brother, the usurping Duke of Milan. The usurpation itself is made possible initially because Prospero has become increasingly more spellbound by his library of books, the same books which he later uses to exact his revenge. This is to say that not only are these books primarily the sole cause of Prospero's loss of power, but they are also entirely responsible for Prospero's dukedom being reinstated, because the magic they grant him gave him the power to do just that. This is one example of how power will always end up back in its rightful place.
In regards to the usurpation, Antonio (in league with Alonso) decides to overthrow Prospero's dukedom. In exchange for Antonio's homage and tribute, the king levied an army, removed Prospero from his rightful position as duke and replaced him with Antonio, the new Duke of Milan. The play's view of the natural order was based on the hierarchy of all beings and
things. According to this view, when the hierarchy was destroyed, disorder and chaos re...

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...he island.
In conclusion, as the play progresses, Prospero constructs the hierarchy in such a way as to return things to their "natural" state. Any type of usurpation, whether attempted or successful,
will always end up with power back in its rightful place, and most of the time with a lesson learned. We have seen that the play, in its entirety, is simply a series of plots designed (or constructed) by Prospero, in order to restore things to their "natural" state; the most notable being, of course, the restoration of his dukedom. We have also seen that, in the end, power is in its rightful owner's hands. Caliban learns a lesson in his attempt to usurp power from Prospero, and Alonso also learns a valuable lesson even though 12 years had passed since he assisted in Prospero's overthrow.

Works Cited
Shakespeare, William. The Tempest. New York: Dover, 1999.

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