William Shakespeare's The Tempest embodies both mythological and archetypal elements. Nearly all the action of the play tales place on different locations of a nearly deserted island. Prospero, the former Duke of Milan, has been deposed to the island with his daughter, Miranda. The island, inhabited by the son of the witch Sycorax, Caliban, is a land of magic, spirits and illusions. The play focuses on the universal themes of captivity and freedom, including heavy doses of fantasy, dreams, imagination and magic. This analysis will explore the mythological and archetypal elements incorporated into Shakespeare's The Tempest. Through this analysis we shall see that Prospero is an archetype or symbol of freedom and justice, while Caliban is a symbol of captivity and injustice.
Prospero is a symbol of freedom and justice on the island. He uses magic to free Ariel, a spirit who had been trapped in a tree by Sycorax, and he enchants Caliban, the son of Sycorax who Prospero virtually imprisons as his servant. We see that Caliban resents Prospero's actions, likening him to an unjust leader and a man of magic, "As I told thee before, I am subject to a / tyrant; a sorcerer, that by his cunning hath / cheated le of this island" (Shakespeare 13). Sorcery is an element of mythology that was particularly popular among societies of the 1600s and 1700s, and it is used quite heavily by Shakespeare in The Tempest.
Despite Caliban's contentions about Prospero, it is actually Caliban who lives only to gratify his own desires and appetites, often at the expense of others. His attempt to ravish Miranda motivated Prospero to enchant him and enslave him. Caliban is perceived as a devil, the son of a witch, and one who means harm to others. Prospero uses ration and magic to maintain control over the island, a place that Ariel tells us Ferdinand referred to as "Hell is / and all the devils are here" (Shakespeare 4).
We see in the use of ...