who WAS ARIEL?how did he serve prospero? — The Tempest Q&A
Analyzing Shakespeare's 'The Tempest'
If you're preparing to take a test or write an essay about William Shakespeare's "The Tempest," it's important that you have a good grasp of the characters in the play, such as Ariel. Use this character analysis to get better acquainted with Ariel, including his distinct qualities and primary function in the play. He is quite a feisty character and often asks Prospero to grant him his freedom, although he is lambasted for doing so. In addition, Ariel is able to perform magical tasks. For example, at the start of the play, the audience sees him help conjure the tempest. Later, he makes himself invisible to others. The spirit is widely referred to using masculine pronouns, however.
Prospero first encountered Ariel soon after landing on the island. He found Ariel trapped in a cloven pine tree and freed the spirit from his prison. In return, Ariel promised to serve Prospero faithfully for a year, after which time Prospero would give Ariel back his freedom. Prospero has been on the island for twelve years, so Ariel might have been in his service for many more years than their agreement required. Then again, possibly Prospero freed Ariel from the tree only a year prior to the events of the play. As the spirit explains in his first lines in the play, not only does he have an impressive range of abilities, but he also commands a host of lesser spirits.
Although Prospero has been treated badly at the hands of the Milan nobility, Shakespeare has made him a difficult character to sympathize with. For example:. However, our sympathies firmly lay with Prospero when we learn that Caliban had tried to violate Miranda. Prospero uses his magic as a form of power and control and gets his own way in every situation. Even though he does ultimately forgive his brother and the king, this could be considered to be a way to reinstate his Dukedom and ensure the marriage of his daughter to Ferdinand, soon to become King. Prospero has secured his safe passage back to Milan, the reinstatement of his title and a powerful connection to royalty through the marriage of his daughter — and managed to present it as an act of forgiveness! Although superficially encouraging us to sympathize with Prospero, Shakespeare questions the idea of fairness in The Tempest.
In his essay "On Cannibals," Montaigne continually asserts that what is natural is synonymous with what is good, and that Nature herself ought to be the light by which human action is guided. It is not surprising, then, that he presents a highly idealized characterization of the natives of the New World. He perceives these "cannibals," as he calls them, to be men who live in the way Nature intends them to live, unadorned and unfettered by modern civilization. Montaigne goes so far as to claim to have found in these cannibals the "golden age," spoken of so often by philosophers and poets as merely an unattainable dream. He boldly asserts that in the character of these people, all of "the true, most useful, and natural virtues and properties are alive and vigorous.