The Tempest Allegorical To The Bible

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The Tempest: Allegorical To The Bible? Essay, Research Paper Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”: Allegorical to the Bible The Tempest is not a pure fantasy tale, but a purposeful allegory. The characters in the play are all representative of characters found in the bible. The first, and perhaps most persuasive, arguement would be Prospero symbolizing God. Prospero is seen to be a representative of God for several reasons. First, he is obviously in control of the actions and has an omnipotent quality. This has been demonstrated by several scenes throughout the play. Consider the power that Prospero possesses, as shown in the Epilogue at the closing of the play: I have bedimmed The mooontide sun, called forth the mutinous winds, And ?twixt the green sea and the azured vault Set

roaring war. . . . The strong-based promontory Have I made shake, and by the spurs plucked up The pine and cedar. Graves, at my command, Have waked their sleepers, oped and let them forth By my so potent art (V. i. 41-4, 46-50). These are obviously superhuman works. In fact, Prospero claims quite definitely that he possesses the power of mighty Zeus himself, for not only does he say that he can make lightning, but he declares that he has actually used the god’s own thunderbolt (Still 6): To the dread rattling thunder Have I given fire, and rifted Jove’s stout oak With his own bolt. Having already established that Prospero is the possessor of superhuman power, why would Shakespeare include this information except solely for alligorical purposes (Still 7)? This information

serves no purpose except to establish Prospero as a god. Prospero is also seen in the play performing several roles that Christianity traditionally assign to God: that of the Omnipotent Judge and the Savior of Man. Prospero is revealed to be the Omnipotent Judge through a speech given by Ariel (Still 7): . . . . I and my fellows Are ministers of Fate. . . . The powers, delaying, not forgetting, have Incensed the seas and shores, yea, all the creatures Against your peace. . . and do pronounce by me Lingering perdition, worse than any death Can be at one, shall step by step attend You and your ways; whose wraths to guard you from, Which here, in the most desolate isle, else falls Upon your heads, is nothing, but heart’s sorrow, And a clear life ensuing. Shakespeare tells us,

through Ariel, that Prospero can pass sentance of lingering perdition, but whose mercy can be gained through repentance. This leads into the role of God as the Savior of Man. This is shown through his quote: They being pentient, The sole drift of my purpose doth extend Not a frown further (V. i. 28-30). Here, Prosperso states that, since repentance has occurred, there is no more ill will. This reflects the Christian belief that repentance can allow the forgiveness of sins. Also, Prospero is seen as the “master of the island”–that is, the all-powerful force controlling it. He manipulates the elements to produce his desired effects; two excellent examples of this are the tempest he creates in order to trap his brother and his companions, as well as the mock-feast he creates

to manipulate them. The parallels to God in these instances are obvious. A final parallel between Prospero and God can be found in his Epilogue, lines 15- 20. And my ending is despair Unless I be relieve’d by prayer, Which pierces so that it assaults Mercy itself and frees all faults. As you from crimes would pardon’d be. Let your indulgence set me free (Epilogue, 15). This is as close a paraphrase of Christ’s injunction on prayer in Ther Sermon on the Mount or of the words on forgiveness in His prayer as could be found in literature (Coursen 330). In addition to Prospero being symbolic of God, Caliban is symbolic of Satan. This is evident for several reasons. He is referred to as Devil by Prospero, and is represented as the “lost sheep” in Prospero’s flock–much the