In William Shakespeare's The Tempest, the character of Prospero brings about a great deal of debate. Modern literary critics are quick to use him as a poster child for English colonial practice in the sixteenth and seventeenth century. Many see him as person who desires complete control of everything around him from the fish-like monster Caliban to his spirit servant Ariel, even his own daughter Miranda. Others believe that Prospero's sole motive is revenge on his brother Antonio and those associated with the established power in Naples and Milan. Taken out of context, these are reasonable conclusions. However, in the development of the play, it is quite clear that these critics are incorrect. Shakespeare does not use Prospero as the symbol of European expansion westward and although Prospero is quite powerful, he is not a power hungry egomaniac. Instead, Prospero is the very figure of a noble father. He loves his daughter so much that he sacrifices everything to give her the best opportunities for a good life. He is the slave of duty, working for the good of his people. His desire for revenge is also clearly not a motivation as he finds the strength to forgive his brother at the play's conclusion. Therefore it seems that Shakespeare's character is not being used to show the dark side of humanity, but rather the nobility of humanity and the model of a seventeenth century father.
When it comes to Miranda, Prospero can never do enough for her. Prospero's second lines states, "I have done nothing but in care of thee, of thee, my dear one, thee, my daughter" (Prospero, I, ii, 19-20). Although this line can be interpreted many ways, even as an outright lie, the assumption has to b...
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Dzelzainis, Martin. "Shakespeare and Political Thought." A Companion to Shakespeare. Ed. David Scott Kastan. Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishers Ltd., 1999. 100-116.
Gervinus, G.G. "A review of The Tempest." Shakespeare Commentaries. (1877):787-800. Rpt. Scott. 304-307.
Sacks, David Harris. "Political Culture." A Companion to Shakespeare. Ed. David Scott Kastan. Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishers Ltd., 1999. 100-116.
Shakespeare, William. The Tempest. Ed. Rex Gibson. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1995.
Snider, Denton J. "A review of The Tempest." The Shakespearian Drama a Commentary: The Comedies. (1890). Rpt. Scott. 320-324.
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