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The Tempest | Motifs



The prevalence of water imagery throughout the play serves to reinforce the ever-present force of the tempest and its effects on the lives of the characters. Prospero claims that his grief over his lost dukedom could have drowned the sea; Ferdinand is certain that his father is drowned; and Alonso believes that Ferdinand is drowned. Departure by drowning suggests a profound and complete loss: nothing returns from the sea. However, loss is transformed into rebirth. Ferdinand and Alonso are not drowned, and they reunite. Prospero, too, regains his dukedom through the marriage of his daughter Miranda and Ferdinand.


Music among other mysterious noises in the play creates a sensory and enchanting experience for the characters and the audience alike. The music reinforces the premise that the setting is magical. Ariel's music leads Ferdinand to Miranda, and it wakes Gonzalo prior to Alonso's attempted murder. The banquet and the wedding are awash in music. It is as if music enchants the island.


Servant-master relationships dominate the play in an exploration of power: Prospero and Caliban or Ariel, for example. Shakespeare asks, in what ways is power used and abused in these unequal relationships? Then he examines the effects of power in both positive and negative lights as relationships under pressure are jeopardized or destabilized.

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