Term 2 Week 9

Unveiling Spiritual and Philosophical Insights in The Tempest

In William Shakespeares The Tempest, the line “Hell is empty, all the devils are here” reverberates not merely as a commentary on moral ambiguity but as a profound exploration of the spiritual and philosophical depths of existence. Within the confines of the play, this assertion encapsulates the pervasive moral chaos and spiritual strife that permeate the realm of Prospero’s Island.

From a spiritual vantage point, “Hell is empty” conveys the idea that the essence of hell a condition of spiritual disconnection from divine love extends beyond a remote realm, instead finding manifestation within the innermost recesses of individual hearts and minds. Here, the “devils” are not external entities but rather the internalised negative impulses and vices that inhabit the human soul, diverting individuals from the journey toward enlightenment and spiritual fulfilment.

In Matthew 6:22-23, Jesus employs the metaphor of the eye as the lamp of the body to impart a profound truth about the nature of spiritual perception. He posits that the condition of one’s spiritual vision dictates the state of their entire being. Should one’s gaze be fixed upon the luminance of divine truth and goodness, their entire essence will be suffused with light. Conversely, if their vision is clouded by shadows of darkness and lack of spiritual clarity, their entire being will be enveloped in obscurity. This concept mirrors the notion conveyed in The Tempest that the devils are not external entities but rather manifestations of the internal darkness within the human soul.

As articulated by Jesus in Matthew 6:22-23, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

Epictetus, the Stoic philosopher, provides additional illumination into the human condition with his poignant statement: “Men are disturbed not by things, but by the views which they take of them.” This profound observation underscores the pivotal role of perspective and perception in shaping our understanding of reality. Much like the characters in The Tempest wrestle with their inner turmoil and external adversities.

Amidst the backdrop of moral ambiguity and existential angst portrayed in The Tempest, there exists a profound space for hope and redemption. Through acts of compassion, forgiveness, and love, the characters transcend their earthly desires, finding solace in the embrace of divine grace. Shakespeare’s narrative serves as a poignant reminder of the enduring resilience of the human spirit to navigate through adversity and discover significance amidst existential uncertainty.

In conclusion, the declaration “Hell is empty, all the devils are here” resonates with deeper spiritual and philosophical implications when viewed through the lens of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the teachings of Matthew 6:22-23, and the wisdom of Epictetus. It serves as a profound meditation on the essence of human existence, grappling with the complexities of morality and embarking on the quest for spiritual enlightenment.

Rev Nalin Perera, Chaplain Rev Nalin Perera – Chaplain