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Critics believe that William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest was written around 1610. It opens with a storm, which results in shipwreck, many of the main characters end up stranded. The first time we hear of Prospero is in Act I Scene ii were he is involved in a conversation with his daughter Miranda, during which she accuses him of causing the storm ” “If by your art” you have caused this storm”. He admits it but in doing so ends up confessing to Miranda all about her past and how they came to be on the island “‘Tis is time I informed thee farther”, he does this to try and justify his actions.
He has a slave called Ariel “I thank thee, master”, who comes and informs him of the results of the storm. All of the crew and passengers survived as Prospero asked Ariel not to harm any of them “But are they, Ariel, safe? ” “Not a hair perish’d”. We then begin to learn about another key character, Caliban, who is another of Prospero’s slaves “Thou most lying slave”. Caliban believes that the island belongs to him and that Prospero, who now thinks he owns the island, stole it from his now deceased mother Sycorax “This islands mine, by Sycorax my mother”. When this conversation ends Ariel begins to start her next task.
Ferdinand, who was onboard the ship, is enticed by Ariel song and begins to make his way in towards Miranda. Ariel is invisible at this point so Ferdinand thinks the beautiful sounds are coming from Miranda. Eventually the meet and, with a little help from the invisible Ariel and hidden Prospero, begin to fall in love. We then move onto Act II with the rest of the stranded passengers. Two of them, Antonio and Sebastian begin to gently bully a wise man named Gonzalo “Look he’s winding up the watch of his wit”, they then move into a private conversation of their own.
During which they form a plot to kill most of their fellow passengers including Alonso, King of Naples and Sebastians brother, whilst they are asleep. This would mean that they would have a huge power status, as Sebastian would become King of Naples and Antonio is already Duke of Milan. Their plan is foiled by Ariel awakening Gonzalo. Trincolo, jester, and Stephano, a drunken butler, come across Caliban in the woods. Under the influence of alcohol Caliban agrees to serve the drunken pair with the promise that they will kill Prospero. This will make them ‘owners’ of the island and Caliban thinks they will treat him better than Prospero.
However, an invisible Prospero hears them talking about him and sends some spirits to case them away “Go charge my goblins”. There is then a scene in which all the royal party are gathered, Prosepero at the head. He explains all that has gone on to everybody. He decides to give up his magic and return as Duke of Milan while Miranda and Ferdinand declare their love for one another. From the basic plot Prospero does not seem like a bad person but there are many fine details missed out in the summary. When Prospero arrived on the island its only inhabitant was Caliban who had grown up there.
Calibans way of life was very different to Prosperos as he had not grown up with civilization. Prosperos personality appears to have more bad traits than good. His worst are a strong arrogance as he thinks he is life is not only different to Calibans it is also better, which is not true. He does seem to have a few positive traits the main one of these appears to be honesty as he shows his intentions about owning the island and re-gaining his Dukedom but this is counteracted by the way he is very sneaky and tries to influence the forces of nature.
This is shown when he repeatedly makes himself or Ariel invisible and speaks to other characters although he were someone else. Two other characters, Caliban and Ariel, play a huge part in deducting his true colors. They appear to be his good side, Ariel and his bad side, Caliban we know he thinks this to as he refers to Caliban as “this thing of darkness I acknowledge mine”. There are two phases to explain this, one is that they are his ‘yin and yang’ and the other is to say that they make up a doppelganger. Prosperos most intimate relationship with another character is with Caliban.
As well as assuming power over the island he also assumes power and therefore control over Caliban himself. He is infact prejudice against Caliban and thinks Caliban is not fit to rule the island. In the beginning he taught Caliban how to speak and in return Caliban showed him all the special features on the island. But Prospero betrayed Caliban because now he knew all the secrets of the isle Caliban had nothing over him. To try and get back at Prospero Caliban tried to rape Miranda, which Prospero saw as something, a savage would do.
He also had another motive; he wanted Miranda to get pregnant so that there would, in theory, be more of Caliban than of Prospero. However as this did not work the idea could never be put into practice but it is the same kind of thing that Caliban thinks could have happened with Trincolo and Stephano. Prospero tries to colonize Caliban but this is not right as Calibans way of life is as respectable as Prosperos within the island community. Prospero also has an unusual relationship with Ariel another of his slaves. Prospero freed Ariel from a cage in which he had been placed by Sycorax.
This put Ariel in debt but Prospero always allows him to be his own person and does not try to control him. Also when Ariel has served Prospero for long enough he is allowed to be free “I shall miss thee but yet thee shalt have freedom”. One of the things that Ariel did for Prospero is teach him to forgive and forget, it was he who spurred Prospero to let the royals free ” Your charm so strongly works ’em that if you now beheld them your affections would become tender” “Dost thou think so, spirit? ” His final relationships are with his family, Miranda and Antonio.
He is very protective of Miranda as she is the only family he has known for a long time. But his relationship with Antonio is a little more complicated. “For you, most wicked sir, whom to call brother would even infect my mouth, I do forgive thy rankest fault-all of them; and require my dukedom of thee, which perforce I know thou must restore. ” This is Prosperos way of forgiving Antonio. It is not very kindly and he insists on reclaiming his title. This portrays that they have a very stretched relationship and Prospero, given the choice, would not be brother to Antonio.