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“The island’s mine, by Sycorax my mother, Which thou takest from me, When thou camest first.” This quote from The Tempest by William Shakespeare shows that it is a unique piece of written literature. The main characters within the story are Prospero, a former duke of a country called Milan who is also a sorcerer, Miranda, the daughter of Prospero, Ariel, the magical servant of Prospero, Caliban, a native who became a servant, and the king and his court. Shakespeare used many different styles to develop the character and overall mood throughout the plays he wrote. The Tempest is the perfect example of how Shakespeare used the language within the play in order to develop the theme.

The Tempest uses figurative language to develop the theme in a quote from the story where Caliban, Prospero’s servant, is talking to Stephano, a member of the Kings court who introduced Caliban to liquor. Caliban is asking Stephano to overthrow Prospero because he treats Caliban poorly. Caliban claims Prospero stole the island from him by tricking him into showing him the resources of the island then using his magic to take ownership of it. “I say by sorcery he got this isle; From me he got it. If thy greatness wil, Revenge it on him… and I’ll serve thee.” Act III, Scene III, Lines 59-64. The way Caliban is talking about Prospero makes Prospero seem like he has bad intentions towards the island and Caliban. Then the way Caliban addresses Stephano makes it seem that Stephano is his only hope. The figurative language shows how much Caliban despises Prospero and how much he relies on Stephano. The quote shows the theme of confinement and betrayal.

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Another way Shakespeare uses figurative language to develop the theme of the story is when Prospero was talking to Caliban. In this quote Prospero is telling Caliban how horrible he is. Prospero is stating how Caliban did not act civil even though Prospero took Caliban in and pitied him. In Act I, Scene II, Lines 422-436 Prospero says “Abhórred slave… I pitied thee, took pains to make thee speak, taught thee each hour one thing or another… Though thou didst learn, had that in ‘t which good natures could not abide to be with. Therefore wast thou deservedly confined into this rock, Who hadst deserved more than a prison.” Even though Prospero showed Caliban how to do many things, he still betrayed Prospero and destroyed his trust. The quote shows the theme of slavery and mistrust. Even though Caliban is a native of the island, Prospero expects Caliban to do everything he asks which shows slavery. Yet when Caliban does what he thinks is acceptable, it breaks the trust Prospero has with Caliban and creates the theme of mistrust.

In conclusion, Shakespeare uses different techniques to show themes within different parts of the play. Although the themes are hidden, with the correct analysis you can find them within any of Shakespeare’s works.

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Theme of Revenge in ‘The Tempest’: Critical Essay.
(2023, October 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved January 22, 2024, from

“Theme of Revenge in ‘The Tempest’: Critical Essay.” Edubirdie, 09 Oct. 2023,

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