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cheryl_shell
Posts: 156
Registered: ‎12-08-2006
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Ariel: What did he do to deserve this?

I'm afraid I don't understand why Prospero enslaved Ariel. Well, no, I guess what I mean is that I don't think the enslavement of Ariel is defensible.

I know, I know, I'm not supposed to think of these characters as real (at least that's what all the scholars tell me). He's (She's?) a minor character, not worthy of spending mental effort imagining his motives or his interior life.

Yet, as always with these "little" characters, Shakespeare inevitably gives him such wonderful speeches, such true-to-life qualities, that I have to wonder about his former life, his relationship with his master, and what he will do once he is freed.

So, here are my questions:

Why did Prospero enslave Ariel? It must be that he needed a servant, and here was one for the taking. He only needed to release him from the "cloven pine" (1.2.277) in which he was imprisoned, and . . . re-enslave him until he was done with him. So, he did it because he could?

How does Ariel feel about this, do you think? Does he seem to like Prospero? Or is he just pretending to like him because he doesn't want to incur his wrath? After all, every time Ariel complains, Prospero threatens to put him back into a tree for another 12 years!

But is Prospero also pretending? Is Prospero keeping Ariel enslaved only because he likes having him around?

Another question that occurs to me: does Prospero need Ariel's magic to make his own work? Just how much magic does Ariel have on his own anyway?

By the way, what sort of creature is Ariel? Is he a sprite like Puck?

And what will Ariel do when he is free?
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maxcat
Posts: 4,012
Registered: ‎11-01-2006
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Re: Ariel: What did he do to deserve this?

You ask some tough questions here... Ariel is a sprite, I imagine her as being Tinkerbell. Don't go there and ask. But I feel Ariel got caught up in all this when Prospero first freed her and now she must do his bidding. And every time she gets the chance to be free, he takes it away. It seems at this point she will be in his debt forever. I don't think her powers are as great as Prospero's as she would have been freed long before he had her in his clutches. She feels if she waits around and does Prospero's bidding, she will get a chance to be free from him.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep - Robert Frost
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Choisya
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Re: Ariel: What did he do to deserve this?

King James' Daemonologie condemned all magic either as spurious or inspired by Satan so we are not meant to see any of the magic of Tempest as good or beneficial. Ariel represents air ('Hast thou, who art but air, a touch, a feeling/Of their afflictions' 21-22) was a 'familiar' to Sycorax the witch and in the Elizabeth world view devils/demons took their shape from the element of air. Robert Burton in his 'Anatomy of Melancholy'(1621), when writing about Elizabeth beliefs, said that the spirit of air had the power to 'cause tempests, thunders and lightnings'. With these things in mind I have always seen Ariel as a fairy/demon who has more magic than Prospero and so he imprisons him/her so as to use that magic for his own purposes.

Steve Marmion, Assistant Producer of The Royal Shakespeare Company's The Tempest, says this about the character of Ariel in the Exploring Shakespeare piece which I have posted elsewhere:-

'...where does Prospero's magic lie? And where does Ariel's magic lie? The more we studied the text and looked for that, it seemed that Prospero's magic lay in almost Derren Brown-esque mind tricks, and being able to convince people of things, or falling asleep or whatever those moments were, hypnosis, whereas Ariel's magic is the stuff that really had the power [My italics.]. With Ariel's help, he opened graves. With Ariel's help he went, and got some dew from the Bermudas. Ariel can go to all these places; Prospero can't leave the island. Setting those rules was key, and I think it's fair to say Ariel is a Mephistopheles to Prospero. Prospero can do only crude magic, enough to release Ariel from a tree. But to take it much further Prospero doesn't have the power. And whether he has the power to control Ariel or not is questionable, I think.'







cheryl_shell wrote:
I'm afraid I don't understand why Prospero enslaved Ariel. Well, no, I guess what I mean is that I don't think the enslavement of Ariel is defensible.

I know, I know, I'm not supposed to think of these characters as real (at least that's what all the scholars tell me). He's (She's?) a minor character, not worthy of spending mental effort imagining his motives or his interior life.

Yet, as always with these "little" characters, Shakespeare inevitably gives him such wonderful speeches, such true-to-life qualities, that I have to wonder about his former life, his relationship with his master, and what he will do once he is freed.

So, here are my questions:

Why did Prospero enslave Ariel? It must be that he needed a servant, and here was one for the taking. He only needed to release him from the "cloven pine" (1.2.277) in which he was imprisoned, and . . . re-enslave him until he was done with him. So, he did it because he could?

How does Ariel feel about this, do you think? Does he seem to like Prospero? Or is he just pretending to like him because he doesn't want to incur his wrath? After all, every time Ariel complains, Prospero threatens to put him back into a tree for another 12 years!

But is Prospero also pretending? Is Prospero keeping Ariel enslaved only because he likes having him around?

Another question that occurs to me: does Prospero need Ariel's magic to make his own work? Just how much magic does Ariel have on his own anyway?

By the way, what sort of creature is Ariel? Is he a sprite like Puck?

And what will Ariel do when he is free?


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Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
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Re: Ariel: What did he do to deserve this? : A Demon

[ Edited ]
King James' Daemonologie condemned all magic either as spurious or inspired by Satan so we are not meant to see any of the magic of Tempest as good or beneficial. Ariel represents air (Prospero: 'Hast thou, who art but air, a touch, a feeling/Of their afflictions' 21-22) was a 'familiar' to Sycorax the witch and in the Elizabeth world view devils/demons took their shape from the element of air. Robert Burton in his 'Anatomy of Melancholy'(1621), when writing about Elizabeth beliefs, said that the spirit of air had the power to 'cause tempests, thunders and lightnings'. With these things in mind I have always seen Ariel as a demon who has more magic than Prospero and so he imprisons him/her so as to use that magic for his own purposes.

Steve Marmion, Assistant Producer of The Royal Shakespeare Company's The Tempest, says this about the character of Ariel in the Exploring Shakespeare piece which I have posted elsewhere:-

'...where does Prospero's magic lie? And where does Ariel's magic lie? The more we studied the text and looked for that, it seemed that Prospero's magic lay in almost Derren Brown-esque mind tricks, and being able to convince people of things, or falling asleep or whatever those moments were, hypnosis, whereas Ariel's magic is the stuff that really had the power [My italics.]. With Ariel's help, he opened graves. With Ariel's help he went, and got some dew from the Bermudas. Ariel can go to all these places; Prospero can't leave the island. Setting those rules was key, and I think it's fair to say Ariel is a Mephistopheles to Prospero. Prospero can do only crude magic, enough to release Ariel from a tree. But to take it much further Prospero doesn't have the power. And whether he has the power to control Ariel or not is questionable, I think.'





cheryl_shell wrote:
I'm afraid I don't understand why Prospero enslaved Ariel. Well, no, I guess what I mean is that I don't think the enslavement of Ariel is defensible.

I know, I know, I'm not supposed to think of these characters as real (at least that's what all the scholars tell me). He's (She's?) a minor character, not worthy of spending mental effort imagining his motives or his interior life.

Yet, as always with these "little" characters, Shakespeare inevitably gives him such wonderful speeches, such true-to-life qualities, that I have to wonder about his former life, his relationship with his master, and what he will do once he is freed.

So, here are my questions:

Why did Prospero enslave Ariel? It must be that he needed a servant, and here was one for the taking. He only needed to release him from the "cloven pine" (1.2.277) in which he was imprisoned, and . . . re-enslave him until he was done with him. So, he did it because he could?

How does Ariel feel about this, do you think? Does he seem to like Prospero? Or is he just pretending to like him because he doesn't want to incur his wrath? After all, every time Ariel complains, Prospero threatens to put him back into a tree for another 12 years!

But is Prospero also pretending? Is Prospero keeping Ariel enslaved only because he likes having him around?

Another question that occurs to me: does Prospero need Ariel's magic to make his own work? Just how much magic does Ariel have on his own anyway?

By the way, what sort of creature is Ariel? Is he a sprite like Puck?

And what will Ariel do when he is free?

>

Message Edited by Choisya on 04-03-200704:37 AM

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cheryl_shell
Posts: 156
Registered: ‎12-08-2006
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Re: Ariel: What did he do to deserve this?


Choisya wrote:
King James' Daemonologie condemned all magic either as spurious or inspired by Satan so we are not meant to see any of the magic of Tempest as good or beneficial. Ariel represents air ('Hast thou, who art but air, a touch, a feeling/Of their afflictions' 21-22) was a 'familiar' to Sycorax the witch and in the Elizabeth world view devils/demons took their shape from the element of air. Robert Burton in his 'Anatomy of Melancholy'(1621), when writing about Elizabeth beliefs, said that the spirit of air had the power to 'cause tempests, thunders and lightnings'. With these things in mind I have always seen Ariel as a fairy/demon who has more magic than Prospero and so he imprisons him/her so as to use that magic for his own purposes.

Steve Marmion, Assistant Producer of The Royal Shakespeare Company's The Tempest, says this about the character of Ariel in the Exploring Shakespeare piece which I have posted elsewhere:-

'...where does Prospero's magic lie? And where does Ariel's magic lie? The more we studied the text and looked for that, it seemed that Prospero's magic lay in almost Derren Brown-esque mind tricks, and being able to convince people of things, or falling asleep or whatever those moments were, hypnosis, whereas Ariel's magic is the stuff that really had the power [My italics.]. With Ariel's help, he opened graves. With Ariel's help he went, and got some dew from the Bermudas. Ariel can go to all these places; Prospero can't leave the island. Setting those rules was key, and I think it's fair to say Ariel is a Mephistopheles to Prospero. Prospero can do only crude magic, enough to release Ariel from a tree. But to take it much further Prospero doesn't have the power. And whether he has the power to control Ariel or not is questionable, I think.'



Interesting idea, Choisya. So then, if all magic is evil, but Prospero's not really doing magic, does that make him good? Or at least not-evil? What then are we to think of him?
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Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
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Re: Ariel: What did he do to deserve this?

When sitting down to watch a play, I don't think it is a good idea to make immediate judgements on any character. We must 'suspend our disbelief' and await the plot's development. Especially in Shakespeare - what it good now may be evil later and vice versa - see you in the Interval!:smileyvery-happy:




cheryl_shell wrote:

Choisya wrote:
King James' Daemonologie condemned all magic either as spurious or inspired by Satan so we are not meant to see any of the magic of Tempest as good or beneficial. Ariel represents air ('Hast thou, who art but air, a touch, a feeling/Of their afflictions' 21-22) was a 'familiar' to Sycorax the witch and in the Elizabeth world view devils/demons took their shape from the element of air. Robert Burton in his 'Anatomy of Melancholy'(1621), when writing about Elizabeth beliefs, said that the spirit of air had the power to 'cause tempests, thunders and lightnings'. With these things in mind I have always seen Ariel as a fairy/demon who has more magic than Prospero and so he imprisons him/her so as to use that magic for his own purposes.

Steve Marmion, Assistant Producer of The Royal Shakespeare Company's The Tempest, says this about the character of Ariel in the Exploring Shakespeare piece which I have posted elsewhere:-

'...where does Prospero's magic lie? And where does Ariel's magic lie? The more we studied the text and looked for that, it seemed that Prospero's magic lay in almost Derren Brown-esque mind tricks, and being able to convince people of things, or falling asleep or whatever those moments were, hypnosis, whereas Ariel's magic is the stuff that really had the power [My italics.]. With Ariel's help, he opened graves. With Ariel's help he went, and got some dew from the Bermudas. Ariel can go to all these places; Prospero can't leave the island. Setting those rules was key, and I think it's fair to say Ariel is a Mephistopheles to Prospero. Prospero can do only crude magic, enough to release Ariel from a tree. But to take it much further Prospero doesn't have the power. And whether he has the power to control Ariel or not is questionable, I think.'



Interesting idea, Choisya. So then, if all magic is evil, but Prospero's not really doing magic, does that make him good? Or at least not-evil? What then are we to think of him?


Correspondent
friery
Posts: 209
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Ariel: He or She?

I think Ariel is a "he." Shakespeare has a stage direction at 1.2.319 "He exits," referring to Ariel.

That said, I would guess that Shakespeare used a boy to play the role. Since boys also played women's roles, the character's gender as it appeared on stage was probably ambiguous--which may have been intended by Shakespeare.




cheryl_shell wrote:
I'm afraid I don't understand why Prospero enslaved Ariel. Well, no, I guess what I mean is that I don't think the enslavement of Ariel is defensible.

I know, I know, I'm not supposed to think of these characters as real (at least that's what all the scholars tell me). He's (She's?) a minor character, not worthy of spending mental effort imagining his motives or his interior life.


By the way, what sort of creature is Ariel? Is he a sprite like Puck?

And what will Ariel do when he is free?

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LizzieAnn
Posts: 2,344
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Ariel: He or She?

I agree. I believe he is a "he." I have trouble with that; I keep thinking that Ariel is a "she." Perhaps it's from watching The Little Mermaid so often with my daughter when she was younger.




friery wrote:
I think Ariel is a "he." Shakespeare has a stage direction at 1.2.319 "He exits," referring to Ariel.

That said, I would guess that Shakespeare used a boy to play the role. Since boys also played women's roles, the character's gender as it appeared on stage was probably ambiguous--which may have been intended by Shakespeare.

Liz ♥ ♥


Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~ Francis Bacon
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crymezie
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Registered: ‎05-09-2007
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Re: Ariel: What did he do to deserve this?

cheryl if you do not mind me mentioning so...prospero threatens to trap ariel in a cloven pine for THIRTEEN winters(years). There is evidence that prospero released ariel from the tree from the kindness of his heart...it depends on what your viewpoints are,everybody is entitled to a free opinion::
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Benedict
Posts: 66
Registered: ‎11-16-2007
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Re: Ariel: What did he do to deserve this?

The Tempest is one of my favorite plays. To me, the island should be looked at as a character of its own. Just like every other complex character, the island has many facets. One facet of the island being Caliban and another being Ariel. These aspects of the island are like the pagan gods that describe aspects of an individual. And like any other pagan god, Caliban and Ariel posses their own selfness. Caliban displays the carnal vices, including desire for sex, booze, and power. And Ariel being part of the complex character of the island represents free thought. But Prospero, being a scholar, controls his personal thoughts, and being as knowledgeable about the world at large as he is, as well as being knowledgeable about the human element, he is also able to control Ariel, the entity of the island that is as quick as the wings of meditation with the ability to manipulate the focus of other people, thereby, control the thoughts of others who are effected by the island.(Sorry Charlie, run-on sentence)

Ariel, although given a voice, can be thought of as simply an aspect of the island, much like my ability to think is only an aspect of myself.

From this point of view, Ariel being free,(when ambitions are present) is like the Buddhist concept of monkey mind. The monkey mind is uncontrolled, unproductive, and continuously chattering, albeit natural. Whenever we have ambitions we must control our focus. Prospero was able to control the focus of the island(Ariel), to manipulate the people of the island according to his ambitions. Once his ambitions were met, he disrobed like,(like Berninie's Time unveiling Truth) and set Ariel free.

Prospero did not enslave Ariel any more than we enslave ourselves with our own ambitions. Gonzalo describes a fictitious place inhabited by people possessing no ambitions. Although Prospero loves Gonzalo, Prospero has a set of his own ambitions. One of his ambitions is the contrivance of the happiness of his daughter. Prospero’s ambition focuses his personal thoughts as well as Ariel of the Island.

So to look at Ariel as a complete person is foreign to me. Like a pagan god, Ariel embodies a character, however, Ariel is a part of the island, much like the pagan gods are part of me.
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