Essay about The Character of Prospero in Shakespeare's The Tempest

Essay about The Character of Prospero in Shakespeare's The Tempest

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The Character of Prospero in The Tempest

 
   The presence of Prospero is felt continuously in The Tempest, even in those scenes in which he does not appear personally. He is the manipulator of the action of the play, and occupies the center of the stage very markedly, especially if one compares his position with that of the central characters of, say, most of Shakespeare's history plays. For in the latter plays, England itself becomes the hero - the English crown, in its resistance to civil war and factionalism, and therefore there is usually no one character of quite the same stature as Prospero.

 

     In Latin, the name Prospero would mean, "I hope for." That which a member of English Renaissance society would generally have hoped for would be salvation, in the terms of Christian theology. Another meaning of his name would be "prosperity," implying that everything which he attempts will prosper. There is certainly a connotation of hopefulness in his name.

           

     Prospero is purified intellect. He is a "white" magician; he practices theurgy, not goety. (Curry 137).  By the practice of white rather than black magic we mean that Prospero's magic is always turned to good ends, and that he seeks only good. At the end of the play Prospero seems somewhat to abdicate his role as the embodiment of pure intellect, as he returns to Milan to resume his role as an active chief magistrate, or Duke.

 

     The question then arises: is Prospero a renegade to the status he has throughout the play - the status of pure intellect? For an answer, we must turn to the concept advanced earlier in this study: that everyone on the enchanted island, including even the man - monster Caliban, learns and is educate...


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...mmentaries. (1877):787-800. Rpt.  Scott. 304-307.

Hartman, Geoffrey H. Saving the Text: Literature/Derrida/Philosophy. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1981.

More, Sir Thomas. "Utopia." The Longman Anthology of British Literature. Vol 1. Ed. David  Damrosch. New York: Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers Inc., 1999. 637-706.

Platt, Peter. "Shakespeare and Rhetorical Culture." A Companion to Shakespeare. Ed. David  Scott Kastan. Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishers Ltd., 1999.  277-296.

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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