Character Sketch of Ariel in The Tempest by Shakespeare

In William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” Ariel is a captivating and otherworldly spirit, serving as a powerful and ethereal force under the control of the sorcerer Prospero. Ariel’s character is multi-faceted, embodying elements of magic, freedom, loyalty, and a longing for release. This character sketch delves into the complexities that define Ariel in this iconic play.

Quick Overview:

  • Spirit of the Air: Ariel is introduced as a spirit of the air, embodying the elements and displaying magical abilities. This ethereal nature distinguishes Ariel from the mortal characters in the play.
  • Servitude to Prospero: Ariel is bound to serve Prospero, having been rescued by the sorcerer from imprisonment in a tree. Despite being magical and ethereal, Ariel is subject to Prospero’s commands, highlighting themes of power and control.
  • Versatile and Capable: Ariel is a versatile and capable spirit, capable of shape-shifting and manipulating the elements. This versatility makes Ariel an indispensable asset to Prospero’s magical machinations.
  • Desire for Freedom: Throughout the play, Ariel expresses a deep longing for freedom. This desire adds a layer of complexity to the character, as Ariel grapples with the conflicting emotions of loyalty to Prospero and the yearning for liberation.
  • Instrument of Justice and Reconciliation: Ariel plays a crucial role in Prospero’s plans for justice and reconciliation. Through magical interventions, Ariel contributes to the resolution of conflicts and the restoration of order on the enchanted island.

In-Depth Exploration:

Spirit of the Air: Ariel’s introduction as a spirit of the air immediately sets the tone for a character imbued with magical qualities. Ariel’s ethereal nature is symbolic of the mystical and fantastical elements present in “The Tempest.” As a spirit, Ariel possesses powers that transcend the natural world, establishing a stark contrast with the mortal characters on the island.

Ariel’s connection to the elements, particularly the air, reinforces the character’s transcendence beyond the earthly realm. This magical essence becomes a defining feature that shapes Ariel’s interactions with both the supernatural and mortal elements in the play.

Servitude to Prospero: Despite Ariel’s magical prowess, the character is bound by a sense of duty and servitude to Prospero. The backstory of Ariel’s rescue from imprisonment in a tree establishes a dynamic of master and servant between Prospero and Ariel. This master-servant relationship introduces themes of power, control, and the ethical implications of Ariel’s captivity.

Ariel’s obedience to Prospero’s commands underscores the complexities of servitude and loyalty, as the spirit is compelled to carry out tasks, often involving manipulation of the natural elements, on behalf of the sorcerer.

Versatile and Capable: Ariel’s versatility and capabilities as a spirit are showcased throughout the play. The character’s ability to shape-shift, control the weather, and manipulate illusions makes Ariel an instrumental figure in Prospero’s magical endeavors. Ariel’s versatility adds a layer of intrigue to the character, as the spirit becomes both an instrument of enchantment and a conduit for Prospero’s will.

The seamless execution of magical tasks by Ariel further emphasizes the character’s extraordinary nature, serving as a reminder of the fantastical elements that permeate the world of “The Tempest.”

Desire for Freedom: Ariel’s most poignant characteristic is the profound desire for freedom that permeates the character’s journey. Despite the magical abilities and ethereal nature, Ariel longs to be liberated from servitude and constraints. This longing for freedom introduces a humanizing element to Ariel, as the spirit grapples with existential questions of autonomy and identity.

The conflict between loyalty to Prospero and the yearning for freedom adds a layer of emotional complexity to Ariel’s character. This internal struggle becomes a driving force that propels Ariel’s actions and decisions throughout the play.

Instrument of Justice and Reconciliation: Ariel serves as an indispensable instrument in Prospero’s quest for justice and reconciliation. The spirit’s magical interventions contribute to the resolution of conflicts among the characters on the enchanted island. From causing shipwrecks to manipulating illusions, Ariel plays a crucial role in shaping the outcomes that Prospero desires.

Ariel’s involvement in these intricate machinations raises questions about the morality of using magical forces to achieve justice. The character becomes a reflection of the complexities surrounding power, authority, and the pursuit of ethical objectives.

Conclusion: Ariel in “The Tempest” is a captivating and multifaceted character that embodies the magical and fantastical elements of Shakespeare’s play. The spirit’s servitude, magical capabilities, desire for freedom, and role in justice and reconciliation contribute to the rich tapestry of themes explored in “The Tempest.” Ariel, with its ethereal essence and internal conflicts, remains a memorable and enigmatic figure in the world of Shakespearean drama.

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