Sprites or fairies in classic literature usually lack any human feelings, except, possibly, for anger. Ariel is quite different from these schematic characters. First of all, this creature is capable of being faithful: he serves Prospero in exchange for saving him from a tree trap and the promised future freedom. Ariel is not an all-willing servant; he argues and shows disobedience, reminding Prospero about the promised freedom. Prospero answers with threats and reminds Ariel of awful circumstances in which he found him twelve years ago. He also swears that the freedom will be granted after next several tasks, in two days. Ariel goes on with his chores, creating the tempest, saving people and dividing them into several parties in accordance with Prospero’s plot. In general, his relations with Prospero are far better that Caliban’s: he simply loves the old magician. Prospero has a good attitude towards Ariel too: he never fails to praise him for a well done work, especially for impersonation of harpy in the feast scene. Ariel seems to be in charge of local sprites, because he arranges the mentioned scene and a later entertainment for Miranda and Ferdinand. He also serves as Propero’s eyes and ears, constantly reporting him about the location and condition of his unwilling guests. Intervention of Ariel prevents the murder of Alonso and Gonzalo, attempted by Antonio and Sebastian. He lures Ferdinand to the place where he can meet Miranda and does many other significant deeds. His most important act is the persuasion of Prospero himself to show mercy to his traitors, by depiction of their state and a suggestion that he would have tender affections to them if only he was human. This simple statement turns Prospero from a vengeance to forgiveness in a moment. After completion of this impossible task, Ariel receives his freedom.
Ariel in the Essays