The Tempest Motifs

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A motif recurring structure, contrasts and literary devices that can develop and inform the texts major of themes.

Masters and Servants

Nearly in every scene in the play, either explicitly or implicitly portrays a figure that possesses power and a figure that is subjected to this power. The play explores the master-servant dynamic most harshly in cases in which the harmony of the relationship is threatened or disrupted, as by the rebellion of a servant or the ineptitude of a master.

Example: In the opening scene, the servant (Boatswain) is dismissive and angry towards his ''masters'' (the noblemen), whose ineptitude  threatens to lead to a shipwreck in the storm. From the on, master-servant relationships like these dominate the play: Prospero and Caliban; Prospero and Ariel; Alonso and his nobles; the nobles and Gonzalo; Stephano, Trinculo and Caliban.

The play explores the psychological and social dynamics of power relationships from a number of contrasting angles, such as the generally positive relationships between Prospero and Ariel, the generally negative between Prospero and Caliban, and the treachery in Alonso's relationship to his nobles.

Water and Drowning

The play has a lot of references to water. The Mariners enter ''wet'' in Act 1 Scene i and Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo enter ''all wet'' after being led by Ariel into a swampy lake. Miranda fears…


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