The Tempest Thesis Statements

The following paper topics are designed to test your understanding of the play as a whole and analyze important themes and literary devices. Following each question is a sample outline to help you get started.

Topic #1
In “Full Fadom Five” the image of Alonso’s “sea-change” symbolizes the change he goes through on the island and reflects one of the central themes of the play which is repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Write an essay tracing the progress of Alonso’s “sea-change” as his suffering brings him to the realization of his sin and guilt and to his subsequent regeneration.

I. Thesis Statement: Alonso who suffers a “sea-change” on the island as he mourns the loss of his children, reaches an awareness of his sin and guilt, and repents for his past deeds which lead him to a reconciliation with Prospero.

II. Mourns the loss of his children.
A. Mourns the supposed death of Ferdinand.
1. Ferdinand was the heir to the throne.
2. Suffers the loss of his loving son.
B. Regrets the loss of his daughter.
1. He has lost his daughter through her marriage to the
King of Tunis.
2. She has moved so far away that he is afraid he will
never see her again.
C. Alonso becomes despondent.
1. He longs for sleep to shut out his thoughts.
2. He loses hope in his search for his son.

III. Reaches an awareness of his sin and guilt.
A. Alonso becomes aware of his sin against Prospero.
1. His conspiracy with Antonio in the usurpation of
Prospero’s dukedom.
2. Prospero and Miranda were left to die at sea.
3. Ariel appears, telling him to repent.
B. Alonso becomes aware of his guilt for his son’s death.
1. He feels his son’s death is his punishment for his sin
against Prospero.
2. He feels his son’s death is his punishment for his sin
against Miranda.
C. Alonso entertains thoughts of suicide.
1. He longs to join his son at the bottom of the sea.
2. Symbolically, the sea will reunite father and son.

IV. Alonso’s repentance and reconciliation.
A. Asks Prospero to forgive his sin against him.
1. The sin of the usurpation of Prospero’s dukedom.
2. Alonso’s sin against Miranda.
3. Prospero forgives Alonso.
B. Restore’s Prospero’s dukedom.
1. Alonso is regenerated as a result of his repentance.
2. He has lost his madness.
C. Alonso accepts the marriage of his son to Prospero’s
1. Is desirous of Miranda’s forgiveness.
2. Wishes Ferdinand and Miranda were king and queen
of Naples.

V. Conclusion: Alonso’s “sea-change” is symbolic of the inner tempest that rages inside of him as he suffers a period of grief and loss, accompanied by despondency and thoughts of suicide. Because of Ariel’s warning, Alonso becomes aware of his sin against Prospero which is followed by his repentance and Prospero’s forgiveness. Alonso restores Prospero’s dukedom and accepts the marriage of Ferdinand and Miranda which leads to his reconciliation with the former duke and makes his change on the island complete.

Topic #2
The Tempest is filled with music, containing more songs than any other Shakespearean play. Write an essay analyzing the function of the songs in the play in relation to theme, dramatic action, characterization, and the natural setting on the island.


(The entire section is 1456 words.)

November 5, 2009 at 2:26 am

Like all Shakespeare’s plays, there are themes, motifs, and underlying messages about the human disposition that are going on all at the same time. Although these messages seem foggy and are difficult to decode I think I may have stumbled upon one element of his prose that remains constant in The Tempest. In the play, water and all the language surrounding the liquid, are uttered during times that represent a change in fortune or power for the characters. Much of the play surrounds itself with prose about water, sea life, storms, ships, etc. There is a moment in the second act where Gonzalo, Antonio, and Sebastian converse. Gonzalo states “that our garments, being as they were, drenched in the sea, hold notwithstanding their freshness and glosses, being rather new-dyed than stained with salt water.” (II;i,61-63) Garments can show what class a member of society is categorized as. We discussed in class that when a garment is worn and washed a number of times, not only does the value of the clothing degrade, but so does the social standing of whoever may be wearing that item. Water fades the clothing of these individuals while at sea. Regardless of their social standing, whoever comes into contact with the sea, feels its presence; which is really a loaded concept. Shakespeare uses the idea of the liquidity of water to tell us something about the liquidity and unstable nature of all things. Everything eventually fades, drifts, is worn out, recedes, etc. These are all words and phrases that have connotations to the ocean or water. Every man cannot escape his eventual decline. Man came from the ocean and will return to it. To avoid anymore ambiguity, I will discuss what Antonio and Sebastian’s replies mean to this idea. “If but one of his pockets could speak, would it not say he lies?.” “Ay or very falsely pocket up his report.” (II;i,64-66) The viewing of a pocket can reveal what color the pocket used to be: a worn, lighter hue. This fading of color vehicles the idea of man’s inability to last in any condition(physically, socially, mentally, emotionally). Regardless of what the men’s social status was, man will eventually be weathered as all things are. Their physical and social facades are much the same. All will be weathered.

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