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There is no clear distinction of gender...it lends itself to the magical air of the setting and of Ariel's powers. Remember this is a comedy, and all things are light and fun in a comedy. Besides, there is so much transgender activity in this play, perhaps Shakespeare did it on purpose...no gender for Ariel, and girls are dressing as boys, etc.
In Act III, Scene II, around line 55, there is a stage direction that states:
Thunder and lightning. Enter ARIEL, like a harpy, claps his wings upon the table; and, with a quaint device, the banquet vanishes.
With the "his" referring to Ariel, I believe he is intended to be male.
I'm sorry, it is from Act III, Scene III (not Scene II).
Ariel is somewhat gender neutral, although I believe he is most often portrayed by a man. I think Shakespeare's troop was all male, so this is probably the reason why Ariel as a harpy is referred to as a "he."
male as Shakespeare says 'he' and 'his'
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