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Monday, April 26, 2010

Prospero's Got Class: An Analysis of Class Divisions within The Tempest

After viewing the play this past week, the thing that struck me most was how Shakespeare chooses to represent his characters. In nearly all of his plays, the different levels of class are represented by their different forms of dialogue and attire. The tempest was no different in this regard. While characters like the King and Prospero were subject to long, intellectual forms of delivery, others like Trinculo and Stefano. As a butler and a jester, the two men are presented to be drunken fools who do nothing but get themselves into trouble; they also work to appeal to a mass audience and bring light to certain deeper themes, following the typical Shakespearean style. Additionally, the boatswain and other crew members were always shown with open shirts or casual dress with an extremely simplistic speech. It is also interesting how Shakespeare portrays the one woman in the entire play: naive, inferior, easily-manipulated. She believes whatever Prospero says, often having difficulty understanding what he is trying to say. When Ferdinand arrives, she is instantly infatuated with him. The playwright seems to make the statement that women are simple-minded and rely on men for happiness.


  1. I agree that Miranda is portrayed as very naive, believing everything Prospero says.I would go further to say that The Tempest is critiquing Prospero, who mainupulates and oppresses Miranda through her isolation from others. Prospero refutes Miranda's initial infatuation with Ferdinand because she doesn't know any better, and hasn't seen other men. This shows Prospero uses Miranda's isolation for his own ends, resulting in Marinda's description as naive.

  2. This was an interesting post. I never really thought to look at the dress of the characters. I also find it interesting that even on a fairly unsettled island with few inhabitants, Prospero manages to forge some definitive classes amongst the people and spirits of the island.