MICROTHEME ESSAY: WEEK 5 BY: Summer Wilburn The concept of the great chain of being, which is the religious hierarchical structure that starts from God and progresses downward to angles, demons, kings, princes, nobles, men and so on. Can be seen throughout the play “The tempest” written by the author William Shakespeare. One of the main themes of the play shows us how mans greed to rise beyond ones place of power and breaks the chain of command; can cause dire consequences for the characters. Prospero is the main character in “The Tempest” and is the protagonist of the play.
Prospero was once the Duke of Milan, till his brother Antonio plotted against him and over took his position as duke, with the help of Alonso the King of Naples. Prospero then fled with daughter Miranda to an island so they didn’t face execution. This first unnatural change of power has set off a chain reaction for events to come towards Antonio, Alonso and the people around them. Years later Prospero caused a storm to crash a ship onto his island that contained a group of men that included Antonio, Alonso and his son Ferdinand; with the help of his sprit guide Ariel.
While on the island even more mirroring and reversal of order took place between the men. In one event Antonio persuades Sebastian, who is Alonso’s brother, to kill Alonso while he is sleeping. Because once Alonso is dead Sebastian will be the sole heir to the throne ”As thou got’st Milan, I’’come by Naples. Draw thy sword; one stroke shall free thee from the tribute which thou payest, and I the king shall love thee. ” (Lines 186-189) Another example of characters trying to rise beyond their place of power; is when Trinculo a jester and Stephano a butler think they can become rulers of the island.
Caliban is Prospero’s servant on the island and resents him for forcing him to do his bidding; when in his mind he think that’s the island belongs to him and he should be in charge. So when they are all drunk Caliban persuades Stephano to kill Prospero in order to take control of the island “Monster, I will kill this man, his daughter and I will be King and Queen-save our graces! – And Trinculo and thyself shall be viceroys. ” (Lines 101-103) Lastly Gonzalo a lord thinks that even he can see himself ruling the island, but he claims he would rule with no commerce, work or sovereignty in his ociety. Once stranded on the island all the characters loose sight of the original chain of command that was once established before they came to the island. All of these characters envision the island as a space of freedom and unrealized potential. As you can see the play ”The Tempest” shows us how quickly man is willing to gain new power over people. By rising in their status, by any means necessary. Characters are willing to kill, betray family, and lie to each other to achieve their greedy desires.
In the end of the play Prospero is able to confront Alonso and his brother Antonio, who results in Prospero regaining his title as Duke of Milan, This event restores the once broken chain of natural order, and thus putting things back to the way it once was. Showing the underling truth of the concept of the great chain of being. ”The implication was that civil rebellion caused the chain to be broken, and according to the doctrine of correspondence, this would have desire consequences in other realms. ”(A Guide to the study of literature)