The Great Chain of Being in The TempestThe great chain of being was an order of importance which was followed by many during The Elizabethan Era and people were taught not to break it or else one would be punished in a severe way. The Tempest is a play written by a notorious playwright William Shakespeare, in this play The Great Chain of Being is used in many instances. Shakespeare does believe in The Great Chain of Being and the main idea of it through the play, The Tempest, is that is should not be broken or altered in any way.
The great chain of being is an order of importance that should not be taken lightly because the outcome will always result in being punished in some way which is shown through Prospero accepting a beast into his home, Prospero giving up his position of duke, and when Ariel left Antonio and Sebastian in a distracted state for punishment of trying to kill the king and his advisor.Caliban, a slave in the play, used to be respected by Miranda and Prospero when they first arrived on the island. Caliban showed them around and was even taught how to speak by Miranda. Miranda and Prospero lived alongside him and were taught alongside each other. Prospero says, “I treated you kindly and let you live with me until you tried to hurt my daughter! (I.ii.
36)” This is an an unrealistic sentimental attitude which he takes toward Caliban. Instead of accepting this half-beast as what he is, Prospero tried to treat caliban to the level of human beings by bringing him into his own household, putting him on equal terms with Miranda, and trying to teach him in the same methods and environments as he does his own child. This disturbance of The Great Chain of Being and carelessness risked the health and safety of Miranda, Prospero’s daughter because he was not following The Great Chain of Being.Prospero committed a serious disturbance by leaving his primary duty as a ruler and putting his younger brother into his own position.
In terms of the chain of being, Prospero was attempting to remove one of the prime links from the chain and shift a secondary link into the role of duke. Prospero says, “I gave him the power to rule Milan while I studied many things, including magic. (I.ii.18)” For this reason Prospero could not get his role as duke back and says, “Antonio took complete control. (I.ii.
18)” Prospero had fractured the order of the chain and caused a disturbance in it. Prospero had to pay for giving his position away by not being allowed to be duke anymore as his brother thought he was incapable of ruling. Even though he was the rightful duke this is the consequence for doing what he did.Ariel left all the royals in a state of distraction when he turned into a harpy and the ones who had more to be forgiven for were left in a state far worse than those who did not do anything as severe. In Act III, Scene iii, their guilt has overcome them and they start to go crazy trying to fix what they have done. Prospero says, “My enemies are totally confused. I have power over them now. (III.
iii.93)” Then Gonzalo says, “All three of them have gone crazy. Their guilt is finally affecting them (III.iii.94).” When Antonio and Sebastian tried killing the king and Gonzalo they had to pay for what awful crime they were about to commit, so they were left much more distracted state and felt much more guilt than the others who were also affected.
What Antonio and Sebastian had done went against The Great Chain of Being in trying to kill a king and his advisor so they had to be punished.The great chain of being is an order of importance that should not be taken lightly because the outcome will always result in being punished in some way which is shown through Prospero accepting a beast into his home, Prospero giving up his position of duke, and when Ariel left Antonio and Sebastian in a distracted state for punishment of trying to kill the king and his advisor. People are trying to take over by robbing banks and stealing others’ goods. The order of importance today is not steady through corrupt governments and greed of the world today.