One of the most well-discussed themes in The Tempest is the theme of illusion versus reality. This theme initially appears as it relates to the opposing worlds of a primitive island and the civilized culture of Milan. All of the characters in this play have been brought to this island in one way or another, and they are forced to coexist in a new and unfamiliar setting. These men are accustomed to reigning over all things, yet they now find themselves in a realm where the reigning power is that of illusion. Throughout the play there can be found examples of the ever-present theme of illusion versus reality in the actions of the characters, as well as in events that take place. Some of the most important elements of the play are presented by way of illusion and, therefore, hold meaning outside of what they first appear to be. Magic plays a considerable part in the workings of the play, as do the sources of the magic. In recognizing the part played by this theme of illusion versus reality, one can more clearly understand why certain events take place in The Tempest
A good starting point to discuss the use of illusion and reality in The Tempest is to focus on the setting in Act I, scene ii. Here, the reader (or viewer) realizes that it takes place entirely in Prospero's cell which is a small room where he practices his magic arts. Miranda here asks her father, Prospero, to make sure that the people on the ship will be safe even though he has created a storm which threatens to capsize their boat and drown them all. Prospero reassures her. He says that he has no intention of allowing the people to die. To reassure her further, he continues by explaining his motives in creating the storm.
Nature vs. civilization. Caliban and Ariel represent nature (earth and air in fact), as does the wild and unblemished island. In Act I, scene ii we are told much about its natural history. It has wolves, urchins (hedgehogs) and mussels, rocks and coves, fresh water springs, oak...
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