The Tempest

Lost: The Uncanny Ambiguity of Prospero in The Tempest College

What is reality? And how do we know for sure that the reality in which we live is not a false one? For some people the answer is clear, but for others the answer is a muddy one. A portion of a person’s individual psyche is more powerful than actual reality itself, and this can be triggered through experiences that are uncanny and revive repressed material. Though what is considered uncanny in real life is not always uncanny in literature, uncanny literature can prove very insightful about aspects of ourselves. Throughout The Tempest, magic is used to create an uncanny ambiguity between reality and illusion to portray Prospero’s coming self-realization of his repressed resentment towards the noble characters.

To begin, the setting of the island itself is an excellent representation of the blurred line between reality and illusion and is a magical “stage” under the orchestration of Prospero. The “author initially creates a kind of uncertainty” in how he can either “take us into the real world or into some fantastic world of his own choosing” (139). The noble characters in The Tempest are residents of Europe but had recently attended a wedding in Africa, and on the way back they are brought to an island by a mysterious storm. This...

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