No man is an island. It takes a strong, mature man to forgive those who hand him misfortune. It takes a real man to drop to his knees and repent. The character of Prospero in Shakespeare's Tempest is a man who has suffered much. Prospero is a puppet master throughout the play, but releases everything to save himself from his own self. The enemies in the play are not those whom he shipwrecked, they are of little consequence, and he plays them easily.
Propero's purpose in The Tempest is only to make everything right again. "Ariel is accordingly shown as the agent of Prospero's purpose. He is Prospero's instrument in controlling and developing the action" (Knight 138). Prospero is the artist, and Ariel the art. Upon Prospero's words, Ariel tempts the murderer's and thwarts their effort, plays tricks on the drunks and turns them to danger, and brings Ferdinand and Miranda together.
Prospero's character may be an extension of Shakespeare himself. "...the play is a certain measure autobiographical..." (Garnett, 221). While Shakespeare did not model Prospero in his own likeness, "It shows us more than anything else what the discipline of life had made of Shakespeare at fifty-a fruit too fully matured to be suffered to hang much longer on the tree." (Garnett, 221). Shakespeare wanted to "write a play that would
satisfy himself , by expressing something, or many things, that were still unexpressed," (Murray 111). Shakespeare, like Prospero, was making amends and rebuilding burnt bridges as he entered the final chapter in his life.
Prospero's presence of character is strengthened by the weaknesses of the other characters in the play. While Trinculo...
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...all the events, we perceived him as an omnipotent being, who acted in a perfect manner. But in the end he is just a man. He is only a man. How many men forgive their enemies? How many men "take from the past not the ashes, but the fire?" (Anon) How many men save their enemies instead of killing them? Few. There are few great men. There are few great men that beg for forgiveness for themselves and others.
Garnett, Richard. "Irving Shakespeare" The Tempest (and selected criticism).
Charlotte Porter and Helen A. Clarke (eds.) Thomas Y. Crowell & Co. 1903.
Knight, G. Wilson. "Shakespearian Superman" The Tempest D.J. Palmer (ed.) Macmillan & Co. 1968
Murray, J. Middleton. "Shakespeare's Dream" The Tempest D.J. Palmer (ed.) Macmillan & Co. 1968
Tillyard, E.M. "The Tragic Pattern" The Tempest D.J. Palmer (ed.) Macmillan & Co. 1968
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