Illusion Versus Reality in The Tempest

This essay discusses the relationship between what seems to be and what is in William Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

The paper shows that The Tempest, by William Shakespeare, provides an arena for much interplay between illusion and reality. This interplay is facilitated by Prospero, Duke of Milan. Prospero uses the study of magic to disillusion the other characters brought to the island by way of the tempest. This essay discusses instances of illusion and their respective impact on the play in how they bring the theme of illusion versus reality to light.
One of the most well-discussed themes in The Tempest is the theme of illusion versus reality. This theme initially appears as it relates to the opposing worlds of a primitive island and the civilized culture of Milan. All of the characters in this play have been brought to this island in one way or another, and they are forced to coexist in a new and unfamiliar setting. These men are accustomed to reigning over all things, yet they now find themselves in a realm where the reigning power is that of illusion. Throughout the play there can be found examples of the ever-present theme of illusion versus reality in the actions of the characters, as well as in events that take place. Some of the most important elements of the play are presented by way of illusion and, therefore, hold meaning outside of what they first appear to be. Magic plays a considerable part in the workings of the play, as do the sources of the magic. In recognizing the part played by this theme of illusion versus reality, one can more clearly understand why certain events take place in The Tempest.