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Prospero’s Abuse of Power in Shakespeare's The Tempest Essay

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Prospero’s Abuse of Power in The Tempest

In William Shakespeare's The Tempest, Prospero lives with his daughter Miranda on a deserted island. On the surface, he appears to be a benevolent leader doing his best to protect and care for the inhabitants of the island, especially for Miranda. On closer inspection, however, Prospero plays God, controlling and creating each individual to fit the mold he desires. He takes advantage of his authority over the people and situations he encounters while wearing a facade of integrity and compassion to disguise his wily intentions and to retain love and respect.

In Act I of the play, Prospero finally tells Miranda the woeful story of how she and he arrived on the island. From the…show more content…

What seest thou else/ In the dark backward and abysm of time?" (1:2, p. 4). He vacates Miranda's memory by causing her to doubt what she thinks she remembers; then he proceeds to give her new, slanted memories. Prospero deliberately causes Miranda doubt herself, for how could anyone be confident with a "dark and backward abysm" for a mind? Because Miranda has seen only one human being in the last twelve years (her father), Prospero has been able to construct Miranda's complete perception of reality by controlling her beliefs, her knowledge, and consequently her ignorance. He says to her, "...Here/ Have I, thy schoolmaster, made thee more profit/ Than other princess' can, that have more time/ For vainer hours, and tutors not so careful." She replies with her characteristic gratitude, "Heaven thanks you for 't!" (1:2, p.8). Miranda never questions what Prospero teaches her, and even if she did, her circumstances on the island would not allow her to come to know the truth. Prospero understands this advantage but takes care to retain his daughter's loyalty, for Miranda is his world, just as he is hers. Miranda is purely a product of her father and as her creator, so he enjoys inherent power. She becomes whatever he wants her to be.

Soon after we learn that Prospero controls Miranda, we discover that he magically controls the weather and that he also commands a spirit named Ariel to do tasks for him. When a ship carrying

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Essay on William Shakespeare: The Tempest

561 Words3 Pages

William Shakespeare: The Tempest How is fate used by Shakespeare, in the Tempest, to change and control the range of characters, using Prospero’s power and his magic?

In Literature, Destiny or Fate is a source of irony in literature; where the characters may act without realising the destiny that the audience or reader is aware of. This is very much true to that of the plot in the Tempest. Shakespeare has used Prospero’s craft of magic, his great source of power, to influence and change the fates of other characters in the play; for personal gain or for the good of others. His personal gain is seen by his plan to use his power and magic for his vengeance against his brother Antonio, whom usurped…show more content…

We are then introduced to Ariel, a magical spirit in service to Prospero, who has obeyed Prospero’s commands to separate Alonso’s ship from the rest of the fleet, causing them to believe that the king and his party had drowned. He has frightened the courtiers so that they have abandoned ship. He has seen to it essentially that each one of them is safe and that they are merely split up, confused and weariless. In particular this of Alonso’s son, Ferdinand, is alone as instructed by Prospero to Ariel.

This passage comes from the second scene of the first act and is significant in introducing the audience to the island and its dwellers. Prospero’s power is stressed and perhaps the audience is encouraged to think of Prospero as a godlike figure, whose power one admires but whose actions are not always understood.

Power is certainly thematic in the play, whether it is the power of the elements or Prospero’s control of them. It is possible that Shakespeare is questioning the use or value of political power.

Love, in its many forms, is thematic in The Tempest. This scene reveals the falling in love and the development of love between Miranda and Ferdinand, shown in their kindness to each other and their willingness to suffer for each other; as well as the love of a father for a daughter; and the interrelationship

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