The Tempest – Ariel

Ariel is a… spirit of the air
He is swift and delicate… ethereal and occasionally mischievous
Ariel is a Hebrew name meaning… “lion of God” – Shakespeare perhaps chose this name as it occurs occasionally in occult texts to mean a messenger between earth and the spirit world
“I come to answer thy best pleasure; be’t to fly, to swim, to dive into the fire, to ride” the assonance here (fly, swim, ride), draws our attention to Ariel’s ability to manipulate the elements. These lines both establish Ariel as a magical and compelling character, and demonstrates the full extent of Prospero’s power, in that he can control and command so powerful a spirit
The structure of the iambic pentameter… in which Ariel and Prospero often complete each other’s line – is indicative of the striking intimacy and complexity that exists between them
(Prospero) “To run upon the sharp winds of the north…baked with frost” Ariel’s elemental freedom
(Ariel) “I do not, Sir” Indicative and formality of respect – he recognises Prospero’s power
Act 3 Scene iii Ariel enters as a harpy – half-bird, half-woman. In greek mythology, harpies were allegorically perceived as punishers of avarice and sinfulness – “you are three men of sin” – dramatically spectacular speech in which Ariel denounces Alonso, Antonio, and Sebastian for their usurpation of Prospero. Therefore, the fact that Ariel appears as a harpy is significant, as they traditionally were responsible for punishing avarice and greed.
“Bravely the figure of this harpy hast thou performed” harpy isn’t a pleasant feature in Greek mythology, suggests Ariel’s harpy is a much more defined feature
Caliban is frequently lulled by “airs that give delight and hurt not”… Ferdinand is lured by Miranda by Ariel’s music. Perhaps, Ariel’s nature excites the audience’s admiration, and that his music gives pleasure, but does his character lack the depth and complexity of Caliban’s?

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