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Ariel is a minor but important character in the play, The Tempest by William Shakespeare. He plays a vital role in this play. He stands in sharp contrast to Caliban. He is an elemental being. Ariel is the pure spirit of air and fire. He is totally different. He is a spirit of the air. He is the principal spirit at the beck. He is a supernatural being. He has supernatural power. He is at home on earth, on the sea, and in the fire. He can fly. He can feel sympathy toward human beings in their misery. He does not use rough language like Caliban.

Ariel is shapeless and invisible. We can gather something of him from Prospero's calling him a "dainty and graceful spirit". Ariel is a refined being. There is no evil in him. He is very obedient to Prospero. He loves Prospero very much. Though sometimes he showed moodiness, he faithfully carries out his behest. Prospero also loves him very much. The following conversation bears roof--

 " Ariel: Do you love me, master? No Prospero: Dearly, my delicate Ariel."

Ariel's love for freedom is not at variance with a spirit of service. When Ariel is ultimately set free, he resumes his life of an unfettered spirit. Ariel exercises Prospero's magic. Ariel obeys Prospero's order willingly and gladly. Ariel performs all the worked duties imposed upon him punctually. In this respect Prospero says-

 "He does make our fire, Fetch in our wood, and serves in offices, That profit us."

In the play, one of Ariel's key roles is to provide music. His melodies are heard throughout the island and they can control the actions of the characters. Ferdinand is lured to his meeting with Miranda by Ariel's music. However, the character of Ariel is symbolic. Ariel is the symbol of modesty and loyalty. He serves Prospero loyally, lovingly, cheerfully, and wisely. He also symbolizes freedom. He has a long thirst for freedom. Ariel embodies the fancy and imaginative genius of poetry. In this way, the playwright has successfully portrayed the character of Ariel in the play, The Tempest.


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