The Theme of Servitude in “The Tempest” Report (Assessment)

September 29, 2020 by Essay Writer

William Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest” provides an in-depth description of the extent to which humans have subjected their fellow humans to injustices.

One of the most well described forms of injustice is slavery. Throughout the play, the theme of servitude is shown by the inability of various characters to obtain personal freedom. However, Acts III and IV move the theme of servitude into deeper and more complex levels, describing various forms of servitude.

In Act III, scene 1, different forms of servitude are evident. First, the reader is able to recognize that Ferdinand is committed to serve Prospero, a fact that he does not like. To make his duties to Prospero look pleasant, he assumes that he is working for Miranda, the woman he loves. In Ferdinand, the reader can perceive different forms of servitude. For instance, the love he has for different women clear indicates service to humanity.

Although he feels that his love for Miranda is real, he sees the love he has for other beautiful women as a form of slavery. For instance, in this act he is quoted saying, “…Full many women/ I have had best regards, and many times, the harmony of their tongues has taken me into bondage…”

In addition, Ferdinand is used to show the theme of ‘service to duty’. For instance, his loyalty to Prospero is for a reason- he wants to win Miranda’s heart. Although he does not like his status, Prospero agrees that Ferdinand has “loyalty” and endures the “wooden slavery” (carrying heavy logs).

In the conversation between Prospero and Ferdinand, it becomes clear that Prospero sees Ferdinand as a loyal servant rather than a slave. In this case, it is clear that the reference to Caliban is used to show the different forms of servitude. For instance, Caliban is a total slave, whose entire life revolves around his services to Prospero. On the other hand, Ferdinand’s service to Prospero is not forced but dedicated to win Miranda.

The fact that Ferdinand humbles himself, both literally and physically, when he talks about his dedication to Miranda, is a clear indication of another form of servitude. He has mentally been enslaved by his love for the girl. On the other hand, Miranda speaks of a similar form of servitude, but in her own accord.

For instance, she says that her father’s precepts are somewhat a form of bondage to her, but she disregards them. In fact, it is clear that Prospero’s presence in the scene is used to show his control Miranda.

In Act III scene II, the theme of servitude is elaborated further, but in the form of “service to man”. For instance, Caliban has become a servant to Stephano, who refers him as “servant monster”. In addition, Stephano, who is now “the lord of the Island”, controls Trinculo.

He threatens to kill him if he disobeys. Secondly, the Scene also reveals that a sorcerer in the island has held the invisible Ariel hostage. He is not able to leave the island, thus becoming the sorcerer’s slave.

In Act IV, it is clear that Prospero has been enslaved by his commitment to protect Miranda. In fact, he protects her virginity. He believes that it is his duty to ensure that she gets the right man at the right time, and is protected from lust displayed by love-hungry men.

In conclusion, the theme of servitude is portrayed in a deeper and more complex level. There is evidence of slavery versus duty. While such characters as Caliban are actual slaves, others like Ferdinand and Prospero are held hostage by their dedication for such issues as love and duty for Miranda respectively.

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