Explain How Class Is Represented Within the Tempest and What Ideas It Endorses

Topics: Social class, The Tempest, Nobility Pages: 3 (1207 words) Published: July 26, 2009
Class is the position of a person in society whilst ideology is the belief(s) of a person and/or society. The play The Tempest was written in the renaissance era, exploration was becoming more common and desired as explorers went off to discover new lands. Queen Elizabeth was on the throne, whilst the play was being written most likely, after being declared illegitimate by her brother Edward IV and being imprisoned by her half sister Mary I. Even in these times social class played an important part of life, with the lower classes working and the upper classes living in luxury the majority of the time, this idea of the upper classes being ‘superior’ is an almost constant theme throughout the play.

One of the most common methods of showing social class is through the physical attributes of the characters. Caliban is the lowest person on the isle in terms of class; this is shown through his appearance in the play. “A freckled whelp, hag-born – not honoured with human shape” is how Prospero, the ruler of the isle, describes him to Ariel, a sprit under Prospero’s command. This is in sharp contrast to Miranda, Prospero’s daughter and of noble birth, who is a figure of desire on the isle by no less than three of the males. “the goddess on whom these airs attend” Ferdinand, the prince of Naples, thinks Miranda a goddess her beauty is that great. Then there is the difference in language that the classes use. In the Elizabethan age this difference would have been more recognizable, but it can still be seen today. The upper class of the isle use an archaic form of language, “I’th’air, or th’earth?” However the lower classes use less gilded language and are more to the point in their speech. The only exception to this rule is Caliban and that is only due to him learning how to speak from Prospero who is of the upper class.

Shakespeare uses class to endorse certain idea’s that were common at the time the play was written. One of these ideas, generally accepted by both...
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