In the original play, Ariel is a spirit that was trapped on the island. When Prospero freed him, he made Ariel his servant in return. Therefore, throughout The Tempest, the spirit has to attend to the magician’s wishes. In the Balinese production, Ariel resembles an animal and flies around instead of walking.
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In Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Ariel is the spirit of the island. The witch imprisoned him in the tree, and Prospero rescued him. However, it didn’t mean that Ariel was free to go since the magician demanded a favor in return. Ever since then, the spirit has been bound to fulfill all Prospero’s tasks. At the same time, it seems like Ariel not only does his job with excellence but also holds no grudge against his master. He truly desires his freedom and wishes that the next task will be the last one. However, Prospero has kept the spirit close for many years, using his immense power.
It doesn’t seem like Shakespeare included many details about the appearance of the spirit. We don’t know the shape or form of Ariel. In fact, even gender remains a secret. Therefore, this aspect is left open for various interpretations. For example, sometimes, this character was even played by different actors at the time. The Balinese production decided to settle on a rather typical depiction of the nature spirits. In this version, Ariel appears as an animal-like creature that moves around in the air. Indeed, it adds a different perception to the play, which is why various productions chose their own interpretation and focus.
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