Character of Prospero in Shakespeare's The Tempest
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Tempest Character Analysis
William Shakespeare's last play The Tempest is a story about Prospero (the rightful duke of Milan). He is betrayed by his brother Antonio and left on a ship with his daughter Miranda to die. Only things are not going according to plan and Prospero and Miranda arrive on an island. Prospero is seeking his revenge. Coming back from a wedding in Africa a ship containing Prosperos enemies is attacked by the tempest and scatters its passengers about the island. Prospero exhibits three major character traits: forcefulness, protectiveness and forgiveness.
Prospero is a very powerful person and using his spell books he is able to conjure up some mighty magic. Possibly the most powerful thing he controls is Ariel (a spirit). An example of this is when Prospero says "Hast thou, spirit, Preformed to point, the tempest I bade thee".(718) Ariel had the power to create a great sea storm and Prospero had the power to control Ariel which gave him great power. Another reason why Prospero is powerful is because of his knowledge of Caliban, Stephano, and Trinculos plot to kill the king. So when Prospero reclaims his place in Milan again he'll have some mighty blackmail just incase he needs any favors or they try any thing stupid. This way they'll think twice before going against Prospero. Especially considering that Miranda will become queen. These are the reasons why Prospero is powerful.
Prospero is protective of those who are close to him especially Miranda. Throughout The Tempest Prospero slowly makes sure Ferdinands and Mirandas love wont faid quickly. Prospero even called Ferdinand a traitor just to make Miranda seem harder to get. This way the couple wouldn't become a lost cause. When Prospero says "They are both in either's powers. But this swift business I must uneasy make lest too light winning make the prize light" (726) he is revealing his true plan to Ariel that he wants to make Miranda harder to get. This is because Prospero feels their love will be stronger if it is harder to obtain. Prospero is also protective when he says "the strongest oaths are straw to th' fire I' th' blood"(764) this was said to Ferdinand after Prospero makes him promise not to have sex with Miranda before they are married. He is stunned to see that after his promise Ferdinand is playing around with Miranda.
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Prospero Tempest Character Traits Ariel Milan Miranda Sure Shakespeare Ship Traitor
Prospero just wont have any of this. This is how Prospero is protective of Miranda.
Prospero is a very forgiving man, because near the end of the story he forgives the two people who hurt him the most Antonio and Caliban. An example of this is when he says to Caliban "As you look to have my pardon trim it handsomely."(781) Prospero forgives Caliban even though he tries to rape Miranda, turns against Prospero, and tries to kill him. This was especially hurtful, because Prospero raises Caliban like a son. This was probably not as hurtful as the betrayal of Prospero's brother, Antonio. Antonio was the one who casts Miranda and Prospero out on a ship to die. Only they end up on an island for twelve years. Still Prospero forgives Antonio when he says "for you most wicked sir, whom to call brother would even infect my mouth I do forgive thy fault all of them."(777) These are the reasons why Prospero is forgiving.
Without being powerful, caring, and forgiving Prospero might not have ever gotten off of the island. Even though he must sacrifice his magic his daughters happiness is more important then his revenge. So he forgives his enemies. In the end Ariel is set free, Prospero regains his dukedom, Miranda and Ferdinand are getting married and everyone except Caliban got on the boatswains ship and headed home.
Read an in-depth analysis of Prospero.
Read an in-depth analysis of Miranda.
Ariel - Prospero’s spirit helper. Ariel is referred to throughout this SparkNote and in most criticism as “he,” but his gender and physical form are ambiguous. Rescued by Prospero from a long imprisonment at the hands of the witch Sycorax, Ariel is Prospero’s servant until Prospero decides to release him. He is mischievous and ubiquitous, able to traverse the length of the island in an instant and to change shapes at will. He carries out virtually every task that Prospero needs accomplished in the play.
Read an in-depth analysis of Caliban.
Ferdinand - Son and heir of Alonso. Ferdinand seems in some ways to be as pure and naïve as Miranda. He falls in love with her upon first sight and happily submits to servitude in order to win her father’s approval.
Alonso - King of Naples and father of Ferdinand. Alonso aided Antonio in unseating Prospero as Duke of Milan twelve years before. As he appears in the play, however, he is acutely aware of the consequences of all his actions. He blames his decision to marry his daughter to the Prince of Tunis on the apparent death of his son. In addition, after the magical banquet, he regrets his role in the usurping of Prospero.
Sebastian - Alonso’s brother. Like Antonio, he is both aggressive and cowardly. He is easily persuaded to kill his brother in Act II, scene i, and he initiates the ridiculous story about lions when Gonzalo catches him with his sword drawn.
Gonzalo - An old, honest lord, Gonzalo helped Prospero and Miranda to escape after Antonio usurped Prospero’s title. Gonzalo’s speeches provide an important commentary on the events of the play, as he remarks on the beauty of the island when the stranded party first lands, then on the desperation of Alonso after the magic banquet, and on the miracle of the reconciliation in Act V, scene i.
Trinculo & Stephano - Trinculo, a jester, and Stephano, a drunken butler, are two minor members of the shipwrecked party. They provide a comic foil to the other, more powerful pairs of Prospero and Alonso and Antonio and Sebastian. Their drunken boasting and petty greed reflect and deflate the quarrels and power struggles of Prospero and the other noblemen.
Boatswain - Appearing only in the first and last scenes, the Boatswain is vigorously good-natured. He seems competent and almost cheerful in the shipwreck scene, demanding practical help rather than weeping and praying. And he seems surprised but not stunned when he awakens from a long sleep at the end of the play.