Revenge and Reconciliation in the Tempest

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Revenge and Reconciliation in the Tempest

By | May 2013
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“The Tempest is more concerned with reconciliation than with revenge.” Evaluate this view of The Tempest by exploring the action and effects of the play.

Revenge tragedy was a highly popular genre during the Jacobean era, so understandably Shakespeare would have been heavily influenced by this; one of these examples being Hamlet. Revenge tragedies carried the evident message that those who dabble in revenge will end up being hurt themselves. This is seen in the final scene of Hamlet where the stage is predominantly crowded with corpses. From looking at the opening scenes of The Tempest it may seem that this play, similar to the rest would follow this genre, however it reveals to have a much more harmonious message to it.

Although the closing scenes of the play portray the importance of repentance and harmony, it does not deter from the fact that elements of revenge and unjust cruelty are seen throughout the play. The most obvious example would be that of Prospero’s revenge against Caliban. Prospero’s dominant justification for Caliban to be considered a ‘born devil’ is his attempted rape of Miranda. There was once a time where Prospero and Caliban had a good relationship, and Caliban even claims “And then I loved thee”. One interpretation of Caliban is him being an evil creature, who in exchange for education and kindness attempted to take the innocence of Prospero’s daughter, Who after committing the act showed no remorse, merely saying “O ho, o ho, would’t had been done!”. . Prospero is quick to threaten Caliban, "rack [him] with old cramps", and restricts him within “this hard rock" in isolation. When looking at Caliban, Prospero shows little mercy or forgiveness, and labels him "a born devil, on whose name/Nurture can never stick". On one hand Prospero’s actions can be seen as understandable, as the only way in which order can be kept is to treat Caliban like a pet or a child. Caliban’s actions and behaviour reflect the very basic behaviour and...