Prospers is generally associated With the playwright (or even, which amounts to much the same thing in some views, with God) as he controls the action on stage. Clinical is taken to represent the physical aspect of humanity, or the ‘will’, his uncivilized condition making him close to the beasts. In this view, Prospers represents intellect (in seventeenth. Century terms ‘wit’, or ‘reason’). The opposition of ‘infected will’ and ‘perfected wit’ is a common trope of Protestant discourse, as in Sir Philip Sidedness ‘Defense of Poesies'[l].
Ariel, then, (an airy spirit’ in the ‘Names of the Actors’) might represent a third part of the sell, the soul or spirit, but at this point the allegory seems to break down, in that Ariel is clearly not Prosperous immortal soul, or the divine part in man, as he is ender the control to Prospers as intellect, and in fact performs the action of the play just as Prospers directs it, Prank Corrode, in his introduction to the Arden edition, criticizes the tendency to allegorical interpretation, and seems to have imbibed something of the late Shakespearean insistence on the importance of ‘It is not surprising that The Tempest has sent people whoring after strange gods of allegory’ (p. Xx) and @Most modern attitudes to the play are largely the product of romantic criticism vita its dangerous and licentious enthusiasms. ‘ (p. Elixir). In his valuable concussion Of Ariel (Appendix B, up. 142-145), Corrode opines ‘These traces are no doubt due to the element of popular demonology in the play, and it would be foolish to expect absolute lucidity and consistency in the treatment Of these ideas. It is surely remarkable that, in all that concerns Ariel the underpinning of ‘natural philosophy” should be as thorough as in fact it is. ‘ (p. 143). This suggest to me a certain reluctance on Sermon’s behalf to acknowledge Shakespearean expertise in ‘popular demonology”, perhaps considering such knowledge to be beneath the immortal bard. Why?
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Is not Shakespearean possession of such knowledge rather to be assumed than taken as a matter for surprise? He shows the fairly expert knowledge of other now unfashionable disciplines such as astrology and the semi-magical Parcels medicine which would be natural for an inquisitive and informed member of his culture. In Cornelius Grippe’s Occult Philosophy (translated by ‘J. F. ‘ in 1651) Ariel is a ‘daemon’, ‘the presiding spirit to the element of earth’ (Corrode, p. 142), but the resemblance is more nominal than essential. Ariel moves comfortably in all elements, and also controls lesser purists (with which Prospers has no direct contact) to accomplish Prosperous design.
Ariel it is who performs the action of the play, the motor that powers the plot, the animating force which accomplishes Prosperous design. TO enumerate all Ariel does would take some time, but his chief actions are in creating and managing the Storm Which opens the play (although we are not told this until in charming to sleep (often through the use of music), in changing shape to represent a Harpy, an electrical storm, a firebrand, a marsh-light, and possibly either Ceres or Junk (Corrode, p. 105 n. 167), in becoming invisible, in dressing p like a water-nymph (of which more later), in becoming invisible, in leading the enchanted from place to place, and in controlling and setting on lesser spirits.
Ariel is reported as flying, flaming, entering the ‘Veins threat’s”, and going beneath the sea, In the negative, Ariel has told no lies, made no mistaking, and obeyed Prospers without grudge or grumble, and Prospers states that Ariel is ‘a spirit too delicate to act her [Corral’s] earthy and abhorred commands’ and was therefore imprisoned ‘by help of her more potent ministers’. Prosperous relationship with Ariel is close and affectionate. Although at our introduction to Ariel (l they are arguing, and Prospers threatens and bullies Ariel, saying ‘thou lies, malignant thing, (Ariel later repeats ‘thou lies’ several times to Clinical), once the action of the play begins on the island their relationship is shown in a better light.
Prospers calls Ariel ‘my bird’, ‘my industrious servant’, ‘my chick’, ‘My tricks spirit’, ‘my diligence’, ‘fine Ariel’. Ariel asks Prospers ‘Do you love me, master, no? ‘, and Prospers replies ‘Dearly, my delicate Ariel’ Some Of this is a sort Of shared aesthetic appreciation: ‘Bravely the figure of this Harpy hast thou performed, my Ariel: a grace had fevering’ and some Of Riel’s eagerness to please Prospers can be attributed to the promise of imminent release, but there seems to be a genuine affection between the two Which adds resonance to a crucial moment in the play. When Ariel seems to convince Prospers of the need for forgiveness and reconciliation.
Ariel: bayou now beheld them, your affections Would become tender. Pros. : would, sir, were I human. Dost thou think so, spirit? Ariel: And mine shall. Mine Hast thou, which art but air, a touch, a feeling Of their afflictions, and shall not myself One toothier kind, that relish all as sharply suasion as they, be kindlier moved than thou art? Though with their high wrongs am struck to thick Yet with my nobler reason against my fury Do take part: the rarer action is In virtue than in vengeance. This affection is only reinforced when Prospers expresses his regret at losing Ariel: ‘Why that’s my dainty Ariel! I shall miss thee; But yet thou shall have freedom, so, so, so. ‘ (5:1 :as-go).
For Nora Johnson, in her subtle analysis Of The Tempest, Which sees it as a commentary on theatrical representation, takes the closeness of Prospers and Riel’s relationship to imply something further_ She describes Ariel as the allocate theatrical spirit, noting that ‘it is Ariel who performs the real theater in the play, Who stages tempests and provides musical interludes’ (p. 278). In connection with Riel’s being instructed to appear as a water-nymph (1 she remarks ‘Prosperous possession of Ariel is itself an occasion for erotic display’, since there is no apparent motive for this costume change: ‘there is no reason – except pleasure – for an invisible nymph to dress up. ‘ (p. 283). This does seem gratuitous (although Corrode remarks that water-nymphs had previously appeared on the London stage, and were recognizable to the public), and I hind Nora has a point, Ariel must have been played by a particularly attractive boy to warrant such an extravagant use of costumes.
Whether Shakespeare ‘intended’ that Prospers should be seen to gain erotic pleasure from Riel’s display is uncertain: elsewhere Ariel is ‘but air’, and no suggestion of a mutual sexual relation is likely, It is perhaps the audience which is being titillated by this voyeurism. As a spirit, Ariel is asexual, but nevertheless adopts female forms: the Harpy and either Ceres or Junk are female At no point does Ariel impersonate a male figure. If Ariel had a sex, on this evidence it would be female. Nora Johnson perceives one more transformation; in the Epilogue, Prospers ‘seems to be Ariel, longing to be freed. ‘ (p. 285). The Epilogue has been much discussed, with some critics interpreting it as evidence for The Tempest being Shakespearean ‘farewell to theatre’. Others disagree. Grant White, cited in Pureness’ New Various edition[31 (n. L, p. 67) is forceful and entertaining in his dismissal of the Epistle as not being Shakespearean at all: ‘Will any one familiar with his works believe. That after writing such a play, he would write an Epilogue in which the feeble, trite ideas re confined within stiff couplets, or else carried into the middle off third line, and left there in helpless consternation, like an awkward booby, who suddenly finds himself alone in the centre of a ballroom? Frank Corrode, in his recent Shakespearean Language (1999) is clearly such a one. ‘The Epistle – one of ten of Shakespeare’5 that survive – is a conventional appeal for applause, There is no good reason to suppose that this example tooth genre is dedicated to personal allegory. ‘ (p. 300).
From their different perspectives on the likely authorship of the Epilogue, both agree that it does not form part of a farewell to theatre on Shakespearean behalf. To return to Ariel, the star performer, shape-changer and musician, Prospers and Ariel share an excitement in performance which, after their initial contractual wrangling, binds them close together in a common purpose and mutual pleasure. Although Ariel is ‘but air there are signs of sympathy with human suffering. Humanity seems to leach across the barrier. If The Tempest is an allegory, then Nora Johnson is probably closest in describing Ariel as ‘a delicate theatrical spirit’ a figure representing the essence Of theatre.