The Tempest: Character Sketch of Ariel

 Shakespeare’s Ariel in The Tempest

       Ariel, is a spirit of air but he is something more than a spirit of air. He is quite at home in sea and fire. Though Ariel is not a human character, Shakespeare’s wonderful art has made an airy creature, so lovable and pleasing and having admirable human qualities. Ariel is light hearted and cheerful and he is the source of Prospero’s  magical powers, causing the tempest and many of conspiracies.

           Sympathetic  and Compassionate

      Ariel is a pleasant spirit and Shakespeare has endowed him with human qualities. He is a delicate and delightful being with child like simplicity. He represents the principle of goodness in the play. Unlike most spirits, Ariel is sympathetic towards human beings in their misery. After seeing King Alonso and others in great distress, he reports their condition to Prospero in words that are touched with sympathy. 

       His Love of  Freedom 

     Being a spirit of air, Ariel possesses all the qualities of air. He is light and swift and like air, he loves freedom. Ariel was a free spirit, he was imprisoned by the evil witch Sycorax because he refused to serve the witch. Sycorax  confined Ariel into a pine tree. He was rescued by Prospero and was forced to serve him. He was grateful and loyal to Prospero and serves him cheerfully. 

    Initially Ariel promised to serve Prospero faithfully for an year, after which time Prospero would give Ariel back his freedom. Now Ariel wants freedom from all control. Prospero repeats his promise of freedom to Ariel several times in the course of the play but sets him to do tasks. Ariel willingly carries out Prospero’s wishes because he is eager to be free. 

    Ariel yearns for freedom. Prospero’s repeated promise of freedom makes him prompt and diligent in carrying out Prospero’s orders. Prospero admires him and promises him freedom soon.

     “Why, that’s my dainty Ariel! Shall miss thee

     But yet thou shalt have freedom….”

     Ariel’s Sense of Duty

        Ariel performs all the duties, imposed on him, with enthusiasm and quickly. He is proud of the manner in which he is able to carry out Prospero’s commands.

      He does not shrink from work and frequently reminds Prospero of his usefulness.

       ” Remember, I have done thee worthy service,”

  He says to Prospero on one occasion. 

    His desire for praise is seen as he defeats the plot against Alonso’s life he says – “Prospero my lord should know what I have done”.

    Prospero praises him by saying  – ” my brave spirit “, “my tricky spirit”.

      Ariel’s Love for Prospero

         As Prospero set him free from confinement in Pine tree, Ariel is bound to Prospero by a feeling of gratitude, which is turned into love over the time. 

      Ariel is very affectionate towards his master except one occasion when he shows impatience with Prospero for setting him so many tasks and postponing his  liberation, he shows a devotion that is rarely found in spirits.

     Ariel’s Music

     Ariel’s music works irresistibly on those who hear it. His music diminishes fury and passion of waves, it lures Ferdinand towards Prospero’s cell,it awakens Gonzalo at the time when Sebastian and Antonio are about to murder the King Alonso.

    The music also arouse repentance in Alonso’s heart.  

     A Spirit of Mischief

          Ariel is tricky, cheerful, powerful and playful spirit. He indulges in mischiefs in order to torment the wrong doers. He derives pleasure in playing tricks upon Alonso and his courtiers, upon Stephano and Trinculo. He gets pleasure in tormenting the deformed  Caliban.

      Aeirl acts under the command of Prospero, but sometimes he acts of his own accord. He leads Caliban, Trinculo and Stephano into a muddy pool in order to foil their plot against his master Prospero. The best human qualitynthat he possesses, is the feeling of pity for sufferings of Prospero’s  enemies.

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