Prospero seems preoccupied with Miranda's virginity because it is inextricably bound up with Prospero's own power. Also, in order to control the rebellious Ariel, Prospero constantly reminds him of the cruel treatment he had suffered at the hands of Sycorax and threatens to do the same to him. Prospero’s retellings of past events to Miranda and Ariel do more than simply fill the audience in on the story so … Propero, like most fathers at that time, wants to give away his daughter in a state of chaste purity. Plus, when Prospero renounces his magic, Shakespeare knows The Tempest is the last play he will write alone. He previously served as a theater studies lecturer at Stratford-upon Avon College in the United Kingdom. Here, too, the parallel is evident. A lot of literary critics think Prospero manipulates the action of The Tempest like a skillful director. Prospero's great concern foreshadows the importance of this theme in the betrothal masque; in the masque, Iris makes mention that the couple cannot be together "till Hymen's torch be lighted," her language parallel to that in Prospero's earlier entreaty to the lovers. Even though he does ultimately forgive his brother and the king, this could be considered to be a way to reinstate his Dukedom and ensure the marriage of his daughter to Ferdinand, soon to become King. After the completion of Prospero's story, Shakespeare did continue to write, composing parts of three more plays. Many critics and readers of the play have interpreted Prospero as a surrogate for Shakespeare, enabling the audience to explore firsthand the ambiguities and ultimate … Prospero’s title in Milan was usurped, yet he did much the same thing to Caliban and Ariel by enslaving them and taking control of their island. This analysis reveals that Shakespeare’s presentation of morality and fairness in the play is highly ambiguous, and it is not clear where the audience’s sympathies should lay. Twelve years later, he has made himself ruler of the deserted island he landed on and has developed a plan to return home and make things right—this is the cause for the opening storm. The similarities between Prospero and Sycorax throw Prospero’s … As the sorcerer Prospero breaks his staff, Shakespeare puts down his … Prospero feels somewhat responsible for that. Caliban, of course, had tried to Rape her. Watching Prospero work through The Tempest is like watching a dramatist create a play, building a story from material at hand and developing his plot so that the resolution brings the world into line with his idea of goodness and justice. Alonso and Antonio cruelly cast Prospero and Miranda out to sea, yet Prospero’s revenge is equally as cruel: he creates a horrific storm which destroys the boat and throws his noble counterparts into the sea. Prospero is the central character in The Tempest and all the action revolves around him. Prospero has secured his safe passage back to Milan, the reinstatement of his title and a powerful connection to royalty through the marriage of his daughter–and managed to present it as an act of forgiveness. ThoughtCo uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. If The Tempest is a play about power in various forms (as we observed in the previous scene, when the power of the storm disrupted the power relations between nobles and servants), then Prospero is the center of power, controlling events throughout the play through magic and manipulation. The rightful Duke of Milan, Prospero was usurped by his brother, Antonio, and cast away on a boat. Using magic, he is able to control the movements and all the actions of the other characters, which allows him not only to be the central character but also the actual author of the plot of the play. However, our sympathies firmly lay with Prospero when we learn that Caliban had tried to violate Miranda. Not affiliated with Harvard College. Shakespeare's final play, "The Tempest," involves many characters, but the protagonist is Prospero. Prospero is a mirror image of Sycorax, doing much the same things, but laterally reversed: he releases Ariel and tortures Caliban. By using ThoughtCo, you accept our, 'The Tempest' Characters: Description and Analysis, 'The Tempest' Themes, Symbols, and Literary Devices, Prospero: Character Analysis of Shakespeare's 'Tempest' Protagonist, M.A., Theater Studies, Warwick University, B.A., Drama and English, DeMontfort University. Prior to Prospero’s arrival on the island, Ariel served Caliban’s mother, Sycorax. When Prospero arrived … Prospero uses his magic as a form of power and control and gets his own way in every situation. (We talk a lot more about this in "Quotes: Art and Culture.") It would be unwise to focus solely on The Tempest as somehow representative of Shakespeare's farewell to the stage and thus overlook the many other important strengths of the play. Copyright © 1999 - 2020 GradeSaver LLC. The main reason is that Ariel owes what freedom he has to Prospero. Virginity was often an important bargaining point‹most notably, for Queen Elizabeth, who used her eligibility to gain a great deal of power throughout her reign. Although Prospero has been treated badly at the hands of the Milan nobility, Shakespeare has made him a difficult character to sympathize with. The morality behind Prospero’s actions is highly subjective, despite the happy ending which is conventionally employed to “right the wrongs” of the play. Although superficially encouraging us to sympathize with Prospero, Shakespeare questions the idea of fairness in The Tempest.