In William Shakespeare's The Tempest, Prospero lives with his daughter Miranda on a deserted island. On the surface, he appears to be a benevolent leader doing his best to protect and care for the inhabitants of the island, especially for Miranda. On closer inspection, however, Prospero plays God, controlling and creating each individual to fit the mold he desires. He takes advantage of his authority over the people and situations he encounters while wearing a facade of integrity and compassion to disguise his wily intentions and to retain love and respect.
In Act I of the play, Prospero finally tells Miranda the woeful story of how she and he arrived on the island. From the beginning, Prospero plays his subjects and his sympathetic audience as pawns in his game of manipulation. He explains that twelve years ago he was the Duke of Milan, but being enthralled with his studies, he left most of the governmental responsibilities to his brother Antonio. Antonio, hungry to be "Absolute Milan" himself (1:2, p.6), proceeded to betray him with the help of King Alonso of Naples. When Miranda asks why they were not killed, Prospero sighs, "Dear, they durst not,/ so dear the love my people bore me" (1:2, p.7). From the beginning, Prospero portrays himself as a distinguished scholar and beloved leader unjustly victimized by his power-hungry brother. Who would suspect such a humble man of being psychologically manipulative? Prospero succeeds in deceiving many with this credible guise.
Prospero's control of Miranda is evident throughout The Tempest, even from their first conversation. He says, "Canst thou remember/ A time before we came unto this cell?/ I do not think th...
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...hey have chosen each other, when in fact Prospero orchestrated their falling in love from the outset. By using reverse psychology to make the couple think he does not approve of Ferdinand, Prospero catalyzes a rebellion against himself with the purpose of bringing the couple together. In the end, Prospero reveals himself to King Alonso and his men. He frees Ariel, pardons Caliban, and plans to return to Milan where Miranda and Ferdinand will be married. Prospero gets everything he wants--his dukedom, a powerful son-in-law, and a return to society.
Works Cited and Consulted
Corfield, Cosmo. "Why Does Prospero Abjure His 'Rough Magic,'" Shakespeare Quarterly. 36 (1985): 31-4 8.
Mowat, Barbara A. "Prospero, Agrippa, and Hocus Pocus," English Literary Renaissance. 11 (1981): 281-3 03.
Shakespeare, William. The Tempest. Mineloa, NY: Drover, 1999.
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