The tragicomedy The Tempest by the great playwright William Shakespeare is an outstanding and world-famous work that is full of quotes and sayings, which, in turn, have become catchphrases. Some characters of this story are endowed with magical powers, which allows the author to convey his subtexts and ideas in a uniquely creative manner. Monologues and individual statements deserve special attention because, in some of them, deep meaning is revealed.
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The purpose of this work is to reason about the statement of Ariel, the magical spirit that serves Prospero, one of the main characters. In one scene, Ariel exclaims as follows: “Hell is empty, and all the devils are here” (Shakespeare 12). This statement can be considered in several contexts, which proves Shakespeare’s genius and his ability to convey the message of authorship from different perspectives.
Hopelessness of Being
Ariel’s statement may be regarded as the fairy’s belief that the world is mired in sins and temptations, and identification with hell emphasizes the hopelessness of human existence even during life. Despite the fact that the character is a servant, she has magical abilities and can affect people. At the same time, the fairy makes personal judgments regarding the problems of human communication and is convinced that all vices, without exception, may be found on earth. Therefore, when analyzing the comparison with hell and treating it literally, one can note that Ariel is disappointed in the lives of people, their interactions, values, and aspirations.
Fear of the Fate of Humanity
Although Ariel serves Prospero and prevents some dangerous conspiracies and crimes, her role in Shakespeare’s work is deeper. Since the fairy has magical powers, she can analyze life differently, and her statement about hell on earth may be interpreted as the fear of the fate of humanity. When observing constant deception, intrigue, and other manifestations of lies, Ariel is convinced that people are more and more immersed in darkness, and there is no way to get rid of all the sins that are met in the world.
Since hell in its classical concept is controlled by the devil, the statement that the netherworld is empty is explained by saying that the lord of dark forces is on the earth and rules it. This hopelessness and fear of the fate of humanity allow talking about the fairy’s anxiety and her disappointment with the further development of the world.
Ariel has more knowledge about the structure of the world than many other characters of The Tempest, and her statement about hell on earth may be evidence of the fairy’s conviction in the sad and pathos outcome that looms over humanity. Failure to prevent all people’s sins and help them to take the true path entails Ariel’s conviction that it is impossible for the world to develop for the better. As a result, the fairy summarizes human existence and suggests that the earth is no longer a safe place since hellish vices reign on it.
The diversity of the contexts of the considered statement confirms Shakespeare’s genius and emphasizes different options for the interpretation of his ideas. Ariel’s idea may be viewed as a disappointment in the human world, fear for its fate, as well as confidence in a tragic outcome. Sins and vices that are widespread on the earth are evidence of the devil’s reign, and the comparison with hell is relevant.
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Shakespeare, William. The Tempest. Harvard College Library, 1864.