Use of Contrasts in Act I of The Tempest

Essay by KuniCollege, UndergraduateA, February 1997

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February 9, 1997

OAC Writing Assignment #1 - Use of Contrasts in Act I of The Tempest

William Shakespeare used many different writing devices when he wrote his plays. In Act I of The Tempest, the use of contrasts between characters, setting, and ideas were often used to develop the story, and more importantly, the messages that Shakespeare wished to portray by the play.

One good example was how some characters in the first act had their counterparts. Ariel had Caliban, and Gonzalo had Ferdinand. The relationship between Ariel and Caliban could clearly be seen throughout Act I, scene II. Ariel was the 'airy spirit' that could assume different shapes, such as the lightning flames seen on the ship (Shakespeare 31), and who had quickness, lightness, grace, and total control over his actions. On the other hand, Caliban who represented the body, couldn't control his actions and thus made him the opposite of Ariel.

He even tried to rape Miranda once, but was stopped by Prospero in the process. In fact, it might even be safe to say that Caliban was anti-Ariel, being slow, stupid, and lazy.

Gonzalo and Ferdinand were also contrasted in this act. In Act I, scene I lines 28-33, Gonzalo made fun of the boatswain by saying that he didn't look like the type to drown, instead he resembled more of the type to be hanged. Thus implying that no one on the ship would drown. This gesture by Gonzalo showed that he was an optimistic person. On the other hand, after landing on the island in Act I, scene ii, Ferdinand grew worry of his father and immediately presumed he was dead. He even went as far as saying that he was now the new King of Naples (Shakespeare 45). Therefore, one can see...