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The Tempest Themes

Updated: Mar 18, 2021



The soliloquy is the act of talking to oneself, it helps the audience know what the character has in mind. This is not often used in The Tempest but Prospero still uses this device most notably in Act V when he tells the audience what he has accomplished with the helped of magic and that soon he would no longer have use for such devices.


Shakespeare also frequently employs the aside, in which the character addresses the audience, but other characters do not hear these words. There is a suggestion of conspiracy in the aside, which allows the audience to learn details that most of the characters on stage do not know. For example, Miranda uses an aside in Act I, Scene ii, when she confides to the audience her concern for her father. The aside is usually assumed to be truthful.

The aside also has a dramatic effect as it builds suspense and tension but also keeps the audience engrossed in the play. It can also be used for characters to comment on the actions as it unfolds. Though Prospero has many asides, his language rarely gives direct access to his thoughts. He tells stories, gives orders, comments on the action, and he renounces his magic in long, spell-like speeches.


A form of drama that is found midway between a regular play and a pageant, combining the characters and action of a story with the elaborateness and display of a public celebration. It is characterized by the use of mythological creatures, unusual scenery, clothing and apparel, impressive dialogues, song, music and dance. The masque occurs in Act IV. Prospero puts on this masque for entertainment in it, he adds Goddesses elements to bless Miranda and Ferdinand's engagement and to ensure that the two remain pure until marriage. He ensured that Venus and Cupid were not invited because they were associated with passionate physical love and would thus contradict Prospero's warning to Ferdinand.


Comparing things without the usage of like, as or than.

My library Was dukedom large enough. (1.2.128) Comparison of a dukedom to a library

The king's son, Ferdinand, With hair up-staring,—then like reeds, not hair, Was the first man that leap'd; cried, "Hell is empty And all the devils are here." (1.2.248-251) Comparison of Prospero's island to hell

You taught me language; and my profit on’t Is, I know how to curse. (1. 2. 430-431) Comparison of knowledge to profit It [sleep] seldom visits sorrow; when it doth It is a comforter. (2.1.174-175) Comparison of sleep to a visitor and a comforter

The winds did sing it to me, and the thunder, That deep and dreadful organ-pipe, pronounced The name of Prosper.(3.3.97-99) Comparison of the winds to a singer Comparison of thunder to the sound made by an organ pipe

No sweet aspersion shall the heavens let fall To make this contract grow. (4.1.18-19) Comparison of heaven's approval to rain (aspersion) that promotes the growth of a seed.

We are such stuff As dreams are made on, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep. (4.1.168-170) Comparison of humans to the immateriality of a dream


Comparison of a thing or an abstraction to a person. Personification is a type of metaphor.

While you here do snoring lie, Open-ey’d Conspiracy His time doth take. (2.1.301-303) Comparison of Conspiracy to a person.


Contradiction that contains a measure of truth.

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