Balance of the Tripartite Soul
In The Tempest by William Shakespeare there are many elemental symbols that connect to Plato’s theory of the “tripartite soul.” The idea of the soul being made up of three parts having sensitive, rational and vegetative pieces and with the balance of these essential pieces a perfect soul is achieved. Ariel, Prospero, and Caliban are three characters in the play that follow this theory. Their connections to the elements represents what’s most dominant in their personality which Shakespeare uses to represent the importance of balance, if one component, who’s represented by Prospero, is off-centered and effects the other characters problems arise .
Ariel is almost always represented in some type of airy fashion whether it’s wings or simply wording Shakespeare purposely uses to connect her to this element to represent her divinity. By connecting her to Plato’s theory she would fall into the “sensitive” category. This piece of the triplicate soul is also seen as logical and a seeker of high knowledge. Ariel, being a supernatural being, is slave to Prospero’s will is not a mortal whose judgment can be clouded by human emotion allowing her to be rash. “All hail, great master! grave sir, hail! I come to answer thy best pleasure; be't to fly, … to ride on the curl'd clouds, to thy strong bidding task.” (Act 1 scene 2 Line 308-310) Ariel is always quick to follow the instruction of Prospero . Shakespeare’s airy wording is seen here symbolize her higher and almost “angelic” power.
Caliban is seen as a very earthly character who is strongly attached to the island as a result of it being his birth places it’s the only thing his knows. His familiarity with every aspect of the island is constantly seen “Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises, Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not. Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices That, if I then had waked after long sleep,...