Ye 1 Master and Servant: What Really Determines Your Status? The strangest, yet most intriguing relationship in Shakespearean play, The Tempest, seems to be the one that is shared between Prosper and Clinical. Through their constant interactions, the audience is able to explore the important motif of master-servant relationships, which is one of the major themes that the entire play seems to be built upon. In The Tempest, although it seem as if one’s status and background plays a big part in affecting one’s position on the social hierarchy system, it is ultimately the power of knowledge that does so.
The exchange between Prosper and Clinical in Act I Scene II is one scene that illuminates this clearly. From the way that both individuals are introduced to the audience, with Prosper being described as the “Duke of Milan and a prince of power” and Clinical as a “freckled whelp hag-born” who was “not honored with a human shape”, it becomes distinct that the two characters hail from vastly different backgrounds. This, in turn, affects their social statuses, as it seems to place both of them on opposing ends of the social spectrum: with Prosper as the master, and Clinical as the lowly servant. O 2 From the extract, however, the audience learns that Clinical does not wish to succumb to these social standards. As soon as Prosper enters the scene, Clinical immediately greets both Miranda and his master with a curse: “As wicked dew as ere my mother brushed With raven’s feather from unwholesome fen Drop on you both! A south-west blow on ye And blister you all o’er! ” (Act I Scene II, 321) This plainly shows just how much respect Clinical has for his master, Prosper.
What is really keeping Clinical from escaping the wrath of his master, if he resents him so much? Prosper then threatens Clinical with unending torture and pain, should he dare to disobey. He says, “What I command, I’ll rack thee with old cramps. Fill all thy bones with aches, make thee roar, That beasts shall tremble at thy din. ” (Act I Scene II, 369) and at this, Clinical immediately shrinks and tells himself, “l must obey: his art is of such power, It would control my dam’s god, Settees, And make a vassal of him. (Act I Scene II, 373) It becomes clear to the audience that in truth, it is not Prospered status and background that keeps Clinical as a servant, but his powerful The Tempest – Clinical By attested knowledge to magical powers that gives him the ability to evoke telling to tear in this “man-monster”. Another example of knowledge triumphing over one’s status and background can be examined early in the play, in Act I Scene l, during the storm. Gonzalez reminds the Boatswain that there are important people on board the ship, but he retorts: “None that I love more than myself.
You are a Counselor; if you can command these elements to silence, and work with the peace of the present, we will not hand a rope more; use your authority’ (Act I Scene l, 20) e 3 In this scene, Shakespeare seems to meddle with the idea of authority in the face of chaos. The roles of master and servant in the midst of the tempest are unclear. The King of Naples rightfully owns the ship, but no one but the Master and Boatswain has any knowledge on how to handle the ship in the storm.
The audience is reminded that social hierarchies are unstable and irrelevant in the face of natural disasters, especially through the Boatswain’s adamant tone when he tells Gonzalez that he will do what he has to do to save the ship, regardless of whoever is on board. As a result, we can draw out the fact that knowledge, again, trumps one’s initial status and family background when it comes to master-servant relationships. Lastly, we explore the final master-servant relationship, which is one that is shared between Ariel and Prosper.
Prosper constantly reminds Ariel about the torture he has freed Ariel from: “Dost thou forget From what a torment I did free thee? ” (Act I Scene II, 250) and a guilt-ridden Ariel then begs for forgiveness, saying, “Pardon, master; I will be correspondent to command, And do my spirit gently. ” (Act I Scene II, 297) We can observe that in this case Prosper takes the position as a master, as Ariel owes him a debt in exchange for freedom. Prosper also threatens Ariel, saying that if he should complain anymore, he will “rend an oak And peg thee in his knotty entrails till Thou hast howled away twelve winters. (Act I Scene II, 296) The violent imagery and harsh tone employed by Prosper indicates that he is in command of Ariel. As such, the audience realizes that it really is power that has more control in a master-servant relationship. With that being said, however, what is Prosper without Ariel? He could read all the books in the world in order to churn out magic, but without a spirit to assist him, this vast knowledge of his would be redundant.
Furthermore, it is Ariel that seems to be more humane, reminding Prosper that the act of forgiveness is more powerful than the desire to seek revenge, as examined in: “That, Ye 4 if you beheld them, your affections Would become tender. ” (Act V, 20) Here, it seems as though it is the servant that is guiding his own master in the right direction. Returning to the extract in Act I Scene II , it can also be argued that Prosper NAS tried is best to groom Clinical into a “normal” human being, where he says, “But thy vile race, Though thou didst learn, had that nit which good natures Could not abide to be with” (Act I Scene II, 357).
Prosper seems to have run out of options, as Clinical has and always will have bad blood, no matter how much Prosper attempts to teach him. In such a situation, it might actually be Scallion’s status and family background that ultimately hinders him from breaking free of being a servant to other people. Essentially, this also means that the title of “Master” or “Servant” is not always axed, and it may vary at times, as explored throughout the play.
Regardless, the power of knowledge still seems to be the main determining factor of one’s position on the social hierarchy system as it eventually triumphs over all other factors of status and background. In a strange way, the entire audience seems to be servants to Shakespearean works, for he, too, has a well-rounded knowledge of the arts. Without the power of his imagination, there would be no The Tempest to begin with. We are all slaves to his work, for he guides our thought process and emotions throughout the entire play, just like a master would his servant.
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