In The Tempest, the characters are at the mercy of both natural and supernatural elements combined. Their interaction with the natural environment of the island is important but often (sometimes without the characters" knowledge), the world of nature is controlled by the artificial world of magic. Thus, their immediate environment exists of both natural and supernatural worlds.
Prospero uses his magic to bring forces of nature against them. One example of this is the storm and subsequent shipwreck in Act 1where the characters struggle against the forces of nature and survive, then later marvel "that our garments seem now as fresh as when we were at Tunis.". They are unaware that Prospero has ordered Ariel to create havoc and fury and are unaware of the supernatural elements that are at work.
A second example is when Trinculo, Stephano and Caliban are left in the "filthy mantled pool" when Prospero orders Ariel to control them because of plotting to kill him. Supernatural forces are used to entice them with music "through tooth"d briars, sharp furzes, prickling goss, and thorns", so even though their battle with the environment is against nature, nature is being controlled by supernatural elements.
Thus, supernatural forces are part of this environment and often dominate the natural elements. This can be seen as a reversal of the natural order and Shakespeare is suggesting that in humanity's relationship with nature, knowledge and education may be more effective and that nature can be controlled. However, by the end of the play, Prospero gives up his "rough magic" and allows the forces of nature to dominate once again. At this point the environment reverts to the natural order. .
The characters are important in examining humanity's relationship with nature in this text. Caliban represents earth, Ariel represents air whereas Miranda represents heart, compassion, innocence and emotion. Caliban's obvious love of the island's beauty and his intimate knowledge of his surroundings reflect a positive relationship with his natural environment.