The Tempest-Prospero-Savior Or Essay, Research Paper
Prospero- Savior or Savage?
In Shakespeare s highly acclaimed play, The Tempest, a character by the name of Prospero is introduced as the mandated duke of Milan and an all-powerful magician. Prospero s enchanted abilities permit him to dominate a chaotic situation which was fabricated by his sudden expulsion from Milan. Prospero is dishonored by his brother Antonio, and as a result is abandoned on a ship with his loving daughter Miranda to never be seen again. Knowing that Prospero s divine powers are able to overtake any living mortal, readers are left with the conflict of whether or not he will use them for good or to seek revenge. This conflict suddenly arises when Prospero finds himself with his daughter stranded on an unknown island. Furthermore, the destructive tempest encountered a ship containing Prospero s detestable enemies, leaving them strewed on the very island Prospero was on. Nevertheless, the question remained to be asked is whether Prospero will become a righteous ruler, or a merciless tyrant.
The tale of Prospero s expulsion from Milan is told by none other then Prospero himself. Also, the tone used by this character inspires distrust, and from this readers learn how Prospero is not only relentless, but self-pitying and pretentious. As seen in Act I, readers are able to somewhat foreshadow the nature of Prospero s decree as unpleasant and incisive. When Duke of Milan, Prospero felt that his brother Antonio could be trusted, and this was the beginning of his downfall. As a result of his trustworthiness to his brother, Prospero lost his place of Duke in Milan, and nearly his life. As his life on the island begins, Prospero meets Caliban, brings him into his home and treats him with the respect of another member of the family. Here, readers see a pattern of trust, and betrayal forming which began with Antonio and now is passed onto Caliban. This second betrayal is caused by Caliban trying to rape Miranda, which was utterly looked down upon b y Prospero.
Prospero s apparently tyrannical stance is revealed in his exile and verbal abuse of Caliban. This oppressive behavior is seen once again when he threaten s to imprison Ariel, a spirit which Prospero controls and the same one which created the great storm on the sea, till/Thou hast howl d away twelve winters .pg.475.
Besides Prospero s harsh dictatorship, he very unforgiving to Caliban and Antonio. Readers begin to feel pity and remorse for Caliban once he willingly serves Stephano and Trinculo, and see that he is not corrupt, but rather becomes a sympathetic servant. Seeing that Caliban fears and speaks of Prospero as a tyrant, Shakespeare implies that the fault of alienating Caliban goes hand in hand with Prospero s failure to realize Caliban s limitations and to embrace them, while teaching him to be what he can consummate. Moreover, Prospero s approach to the court party shows that he was only interested in showing off his mighty power in hopes of frightening them, yet readers do not realize at this time he is only trying to help and educate them. Prospero s power and remorseless attitude is a main theme for the beginning of the play and is even further seen when readers discover that he knows about the conspiracy to kill the king planned by Caliban, Stephano, and Trinculo. This information is very useful to Prospero and could help him when he tries to reclaim his place of Duke. Overall, Prospero is seen as a barbarous and merciless dictator who s only wish is severe revenge against those who have harmed him most, but in reality, Prospero does have two sides to him just as any other character does in one of Shakespeare s plays.
Aside from Prospero s evil plot for revenge and power, one s impression of this character can instantaneously alter at the end of the play, when the forgiveness and remorse flood the pages. It begins with Ariel, when Prospero mentions word that once he has blown them safely home, he is free, at this point Ariel reminds him of his promise once again, and this time Prospero reacts calmly, unlike his eruption of anger earlier in the play. Furthermore, we learn that during the time of Caliban s punishment, Prospero has been constantly searching for any type of opportunity to further educate him. This is the case simply because Prospero could not provide, by himself, the opportunity for Caliban to educate himself, so he awaited for the arrival of the court party. Also, in the end of the play, Prospero finally once again accepts Caliban, we see this in this thing of darkness I acknowledge mine pg.517. Prospero s forgiveness for Antonio is another sign that he can be an altruistic ruler, no matter how fowl of a crime was committed against him. Although self-regard seemed to be one of Prospero s weak traits, he is still able to forgive, but feasibly, will never forget.
This attitude of self-righteousness could perhaps interfere with Prospero s strategy of becoming a benevolant ruler, but all in all, is an inferior factor considering his other qualities. Prospero earnestly cares for his fellow kinsmen, and is seen in trying to educate Caliban, and the court party. Some may remember the conflict of Miranda and Firdinand, and wonder how Prospero is a merciful ruler, but keep in mind that Prospero had good intentions for he was amiably giving her away to seek a new life. The use of his powers and magic may have seemed self beneficial at most times, but in fact was used for a greater purpose involving others. Even the masque was used to warn Ferdinand and Miranda not to amuse himself. At the end of the play, Prospero uses his power not only for himself, but for the world around him to, this somewhat creates an equilibrium between his tyranny and his valiancy.
This play introduces it s readers to a character who at first is just like any other powerful superior, someone who takes advantage of any situation. This in fact is human nature and at times can create a world of chaos and anarchy. However, Prospero needed time and various experiences before he could see that his power could be used for greater purposes then self-indulgence. Critics might still feel that this character will never become a great ruler, rather will drown in his own disregard for others. Moreover, others will feel that he has learned a valuable lesson from all this and is now prepared to become an all-mighty ruler. Regardless of the position,
Shakespeare has provided his readers with a character who begins as an incoherent yet subtle man, who transforms into a merciless and tyrannical dictator. Nevertheless, we see in the end an essentially decent person who had his flaws, yet will certainly exploit in a way beneficial to not only himself, but also to those he rules.