The Tempest Sample Essay Outlines
by William Shakespeare

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Sample Essay Outlines

The following paper topics are designed to test your understanding of the play as a whole and analyze important themes and literary devices. Following each question is a sample outline to help you get started.

Topic #1
In “Full Fadom Five” the image of Alonso’s “sea-change” symbolizes the change he goes through on the island and reflects one of the central themes of the play which is repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Write an essay tracing the progress of Alonso’s “sea-change” as his suffering brings him to the realization of his sin and guilt and to his subsequent regeneration.

I. Thesis Statement: Alonso who suffers a “sea-change” on the island as he mourns the loss of his children, reaches an awareness of his sin and guilt, and repents for his past deeds which lead him to a reconciliation with Prospero.

II. Mourns the loss of his children.
A. Mourns the supposed death of Ferdinand.
1. Ferdinand was the heir to the throne.
2. Suffers the loss of his loving son.
B. Regrets the loss of his daughter.
1. He has lost his daughter through her marriage to the
King of Tunis.
2. She has moved so far away that he is afraid he will
never see her again.
C. Alonso becomes despondent.
1. He longs for sleep to shut out his thoughts.
2. He loses hope in his search for his son.

III. Reaches an awareness of his sin and guilt.
A. Alonso becomes aware of his sin against Prospero.
1. His conspiracy with Antonio in the usurpation of
Prospero’s dukedom.
2. Prospero and Miranda were left to die at sea.
3. Ariel appears, telling him to repent.
B. Alonso becomes aware of his guilt for his son’s death.
1. He feels his son’s death is his punishment for his sin
against Prospero.
2. He feels his son’s death is his punishment for his sin
against Miranda.
C. Alonso entertains thoughts of suicide.
1. He longs to join his son at the bottom of the sea.
2. Symbolically, the sea will reunite father and son.

IV. Alonso’s repentance and reconciliation.
A. Asks Prospero to forgive his sin against him.
1. The sin of the usurpation of Prospero’s dukedom.
2. Alonso’s sin against Miranda.
3. Prospero forgives Alonso.
B. Restore’s Prospero’s dukedom.
1. Alonso is regenerated as a result of his repentance.
2. He has lost his madness.
C. Alonso accepts the marriage of his son to Prospero’s
1. Is desirous of Miranda’s forgiveness.
2. Wishes Ferdinand and Miranda were king and queen
of Naples.

V. Conclusion: Alonso’s “sea-change” is symbolic of the inner tempest that rages inside of him as he suffers a period of grief and loss, accompanied by despondency and thoughts of suicide. Because of Ariel’s warning, Alonso becomes aware of his sin against Prospero which is followed by his repentance and Prospero’s forgiveness. Alonso restores Prospero’s dukedom and accepts the marriage of Ferdinand and Miranda which leads to his reconciliation with the former duke and makes his change on the island complete.

Topic #2
The Tempest is filled with music, containing more songs than any other Shakespearean play. Write an essay analyzing the function of the songs in the play in relation to theme, dramatic action, characterization, and the natural setting on the island.

I. Thesis Statement: The songs in The Tempest function for the purpose of assisting the dramatic action, delineating character, depicting themes, and lending atmosphere to the island.

II. The songs assist the dramatic action.
A. “Come Unto These Yellow Sands” and “Full Fadom Five”
lead Ferdinand onto the island.
1. The song allays the tempest.
2. The song calms Ferdinand’s passion concerning his
drowned father.
B. “While You Here Do Snoring Lie” moves the action along.
1. Wakes the sleepers, Alonso and Gonzalo.
2. Prevents the murder of the king and Gonzalo.
C. “Honor, Riches, Marriage-blessing,” the masque song, lifts
the action out of the play. Ferdinand and Miranda are
shown their future life in Naples.

III. The songs delineate character.
A. “The Master, the Swabber, the Boatswain...

(The entire section is 1,456 words.)