Ariel in 'The Tempest'

  • Created by: Shelley
  • Created on: 25-05-13 13:33

The name Ariel means 'Lion of the Lord' and in the play his voice sometimes confused with a lion's roar. Ariel is also an Archangel in Jewish and Christian mysticism- could he be Prospero's conscience of guiding force? (towards the end he does remind Prospero to be humane and cease his punishment). Arguably Ariel's compassionate spirit is the catalyst for Prospero's change- would he have ever learnt mercy otherwise?

Critic James Phillips believes that Ariel may have been Shakespeare's last treatise on the human soul- the Renaissance concept of it being tripartite and divided into vegetative, sensitive and rational spheres. Prospero is exiled with a symbol of his baser, 'vegetative' nature in the form of Caliban and his high, sensitive side, Ariel! Some productions even use the same actor for all three characters! He accepts his brutal, base nature "this thing of darkness, I acknowledge mine" whilst letting go of his higher connection "then to the elements be free" abandoning his magic and leaving them both behind. Lastly, the audience must accept him "as you from crimes would be pardon'd be, let your indulgence set me free." 

Ariel has been described as the essence of the theatre- a star performer, shape-changer and musician! By critic Nora Roberts. (so he is a good source of…


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