Sycorax in The Tempest Essay

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In Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the background characters hold great importance in the overall plot of the play. Characters such Sycorax establishes the setting of the play, providing the readers with background knowledge leading up to the play. Sycorax, in many ways, serves as a mirror image to Prospero. However, as Frey and Skura suggests in their literatures, The Tempest reflects much about the events happening in the real world (Frey, Skura). The life of Sycorax is a representation of what’s happening in the Old World as well as the New World. In Act I Scene 2, we learn about the nature of Sycorax through the speeches between Ariel, Caliban and Prospero. Caliban claims that Sycorax was the first to arrive upon the island, and thus …show more content…
Although Prospero and Sycorax had no interactions whatsoever in the play, Prospero seems to have inherited Sycorax’s lust for power and control. After releasing Ariel from Sycorax’s spell, Prospero practically “black-mailed” Ariel into his service. Prospero threatens Ariel of sending the spirit back to the tree in which Sycorax has bounded him to (Shakespeare 1,2,258). So in some ways, Ariel was never truly rescued by Prospero, rather it seems to be a case of déjà vu for Ariel. Also, Prospero enslaves the local residences the same way in which Sycorax used years before, with magic. Prospero treats his servants as inferior beings, especially Caliban. Using magic to control his subjects, Prospero establishes himself as the new ruler of the island. With the aids of the spirits, he has the power to shape the future of everyone around him. Although these two characters share much similarities, one can argue that Sycorax acts as a foil to Prospero, in the sense that Prospero is later portrayed as a more forgiving and sensible character. Instead of killing his treacherous brother, Prospero made sure that everyone survived without the slightest injuries. His plots are much less radical and lethal in comparison to what Sycorax would’ve done. Most importantly, Prospero showed signs of forgiveness and remorse towards the end of the play. Unlike Sycorax, who left Ariel spell bound to a tree even after her death,

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