The power of love in William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest
“When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.”- Jimi Hendrix. The power of love is strong enough to open the hearts of powerful men, who abuse their power, to obtain dominance, control, and to seek revenge. Lust for power in The Tempest, is a common theme throughout the play, which prompts characters to do anything to obtain more power, including betraying family and torturing innocent people. Different characters throughout the play use their power, to control people for personal benefit. In William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, the power of love is used to create harmony between dominant characters, the power of magic and illusion makes Prospero superior to others, and Prospero uses his power over his slaves for his own benefit.
The power of love is one of the ways that show The Tempest is about the use of power. The power of love, is arguably the strongest power in the play because, it creates peace between the characters that are against each other, due to the fact that they all were on a hunt for power. The first victim to the power of love is Prospero, who in the final act of the play, feels sympathy towards those he terrorized, and tells his slave Ariel, “Yet with my nobler reason ‘gainst my fury / Do I take part. The rarer action is / In virtue than in vengeance. They being penitent, / The sole drift of my purpose doth extend / Not a frown further. Go release them, Ariel” (V. i. 27-31). In this quote, for the first time in the play Prospero feels compassion for other characters and decides to break the spell he has on them. This is an important quote because, Prospero decides to forgive the other characters, and it leads to him giving up magic, and his quest for more power. Prospero’s actions show the theme of forgiveness, which leads to all the characters forgiving each other, and giving up their search for power. At the end of the play, the power of love leads to Prospero setting Ariel and Caliban free, he forgiving his brother Antonio, as well as Sebastian and Alonso for what they have done, and Ferdinand and Miranda getting Alonso’s blessing on their marriage. Shakespeare has chosen to portray a happy-ending to The Tempest, because the play is a comedy, which is why the characters forgive each other and end give-up their childish desire for more power. The play takes place in the early 1600’s, around the same time Shakespeare retired, which is why Prospero gives up his magic and will never use it again, to represent Shakespeare putting his pen down and ending his writing career. The power of love is the strongest power in the whole play and is a great example of how The Tempest is a play about the use of power, however Prospero’s power of magic and illusion is another great example.
Prospero is eager to get his power back and become the Duke of Milan again, and tries to do so by using his power of magic and illusion. In act one, Prospero’s lust for power causes him to use his magic to create a tempest, to test his enemies, and bring them to his island. The storm he creates is horrible and his daughter Miranda cries to him “If by your art, my dearest father, you have / Put the wild waters in this roar, allay them. / The sky, it seems, would pour down stinking pitch, / But that the sea, mounting to th’ welkin’s cheek, / Dashes the fire out. Oh, I have suffered / With those that I saw suffer. A brave vessel / Who had, no doubt, some noble creature in her / Dashed all to pieces. Oh, the cry did knock / Against my very heart!” (I. ii. 1-9). This detailed quote, highlights how powerful Prospero’s magic is.
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