Author Archives: Grace Jung

PROSPER-o, Prosper-NO?

After reading The Tempest, I found myself intrigued by the characters: Prospero and Ariel. More specifically, their relationship and how Ariel relates to Prospero’s authority and power within the story.

Ariel. Personally, he is my favorite character in the play (but we won’t be getting into any details on that). It is interesting to note how he is essentially Prospero’s “Right-Hand Man”, despite his role as a slave for the time being. While Prospero is busy formulating ideal plans, such as to ensure Miranda and Ferdinand fall in love, it is Ariel who is trused to carry these out until they succeed. Of course, it is sensible that it be Ariel who is responsible for completing a task of this measure. He is afterall, to remain in Prospero’s grasp until he has satisfied his master. However, what tickles my curiosity is in the instance that he is not available at Prospero’s expense.

How would The Tempest play out then? I mean, for Prospro,  there is no logic in relying on Caliban to fulfill such significant duty. Especially those which involve his daughter and the attempt to take back his rightful place on the throne. Would Prospero still be able to succeed in his plans? I highly doubt it, even if he uses “magic” himself. The fact that he chose to use Ariel, a spirit with mystical powers of his own, shows how he, himself lacks the ability to pursue his own inquiries without the aid of another. Knowing this, Prospero creates his own authority in which he has to constantly reassure his power over others. The quotes, “Dost thou forget/ From what a torment I did free thee?” (P.114, l.250) and “Thou liest, maligant thing!” (P.115, l.256) indicate how he is afraid that if Ariel no longer serves him, he will not be able to successfully take back his throne. Additionally, as a response to Ariel’s question of when he will be freed, Prospero “reminds” him of the occasion when he saved him and subliminally demands for longer service. In other and more simpler terms, he “black-mailed” him. Was it really necessary to do so? If so, what does this say about Prospero’s self-proclaimed authority? Does he truly believe in his “power”?




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Just So Lustful

Justice is desirable. Socrates believes the men who praise it are more generously rewarded than those who worship injustice. The question of the matter is.. how does one come to be “just”?

Socrates explains a just man must have a “healthy” soul. If a man is able to acquire this, then he shall enjoy numerous pleasures in the afterlife. His belief in this theory can be seen when he first speculates on the matter and declares how justice “profits the one who has it, whether he is believed to be just or not” (P72, 329c). Even before he has a firm grasp on the concept of what justice is, he is convinced it is more advantageous to devote oneself to it. With this, I found it interesting how the myth of ER  relates to the just and unjust man. It indicates the souls of either men are able to choose if they wish to be reincarnated as animals. However, the animal they were to become was often a representation of the nature within their soul. For instance, those who are just, transformed into tame and graceful creatures such as the “eagle” (P325, 620b-5).  On the other hand, those with unjust and selfish appetites are represented to be ridiculous and have beastly characteristics, such as the “ape” (P.325, 620c).  Similarly, Socrates concludes the soul of a just man saves him from facing punishment in the next life, more specifically a thousand years of it. In other words, if one continues to practice virtuous and moral actions, they can avoid this agony altogether. If this is the case for the afterlife, then what about the mortal world? Is it equally rewarding?

Contrary to what one may think, Socrates claims the benefits are mutual in the mortal world. This can be shown with the metaphor of the shepherd and his sheep.  For instance, the shepherd provides the sheep with adequate care. In return, the sheep produces wool to be sold and brings income to the shepherd. As a result, both parties form a relationship of mutual benefit. However, should he desire to make profit, the shepherd must ensure his product is of the highest quality. In order to achieve such task, he must then make the sheep’s well-being his top priority.  Of course, this is assuming his income is decided by the quality rather than quantity of the product. What if the wage is fixed, where the price of wool is the same for either finer or poorer merchandise? Are we to believe that the shepherd will put in the same amount of effort as he did before?

The majority are likely to believe he would not do so.  Despite this, if the ideal city of Kallipolis revolves around the idea of  “justice is superior to injustice”, then it is rational to say the shepherd will continue to work as he always had. For example, Socrates indicates Kallipolis has a hierarchical structure of Rulers, Guardians, and Producers. He states justice is demonstrated where each individual respects their role in society. In other words, each class is satisfied with their place and will not venture outside of their ranking. As a result, balance is formed and maintained in this way. Then in the case of the shepherd, he is satisfied with his role as a Producer. On the other hand, if he attempts to boost his ranking, he would be charged for disturbing the harmony and acting upon injustice. Therefore, it is far more likely he will continue to function in his usual way, as it is all the more natural for him to do so.

It is with this logic, that if a just man, like the shepherd, follows the structures of their city and respect it, then their souls are similarily just. Nevertheless, when they reach the afterlife, their souls will be undoubtedly rewarded for their dedication to justice.


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Oedipus – The Black Sheep of Thebes

The idiom “Black Sheep” is used to represent a member of the family or group who is the least reputable. In other words, the traits or behavior of this individual may not be that of which meet the group’s ideal standards and are therefore considered to be disgraceful.In the case of Oedipus’s twisted relationship with his family, he is the black sheep.

A prophecy stated to his parents that he would be the cause of both tragedy and turmoil:  a son murdering his own father and breeding with his beloved mother. This immediately led to the conclusion of disposing Oedipus as an infant, in order to prevent such possibility from occurring and  disrupting the kingdom and family’s opportunity to thrive.  Despite all efforts, the prophecy remained and gradually unraveled as Oedipus grew up to be the king of Thebes. Apollo realized Oedipus would have a negative influence on Thebes to some extent when he described the plague as a “disease that wastes all of you”(p.27).  Simply meaning, Thebes would continue to be riddled with plague and lack the ability to recover so long as Oedipus remained as its ruler.

When the truth of Oedipus’s origin is revealed, the ridiculousness of the prophecy presented before him causes him to pierce his own eyes and become blind. Sophocles describes Oedipus’s blood as a “black storm” (p.82) as if his bloodline is to be represented as a curse which muddies the host and all those around him. Furthermore, Teiresias calls Oedipus a “murderer” (p.40) which illustrates he is guilty for his lack of knowledge when he first committed incest and fulfilled the prophecy at last. It is also ironic and quite tragic how Oedipus desired “justice and vengeance” (p.291) for all of his people, and yet the truth revealed about his origin was much darker and unfair for his children than his own blindness. While Oedipus carries the burden of realizing he is the cause of his own misfortune,  it is his offspring who are forced to confront the reality of where their bloodline truly originates from. Even after his banishment and the plague vanishes, his children must carry the reputation of being disgraceful products of incest for a lifetime.

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