Prospero appears in the play early on in the second scene. After the exhilarating beginning to ‘The Tempest,’ his daughter Miranda and himself bring about a calmer atmosphere, Shakespeare has intended to do so, to the extent that he has converted the language into verse for these characters. Miranda especially expresses a flowing and poetical image where she tries to portray herself as a helpless and weak girl ‘O, I have suffered.’ Some sentences are linked to add to this affect ‘th’ welkin’s’ overall her reflection creates an outline of Prospero’s character, as he is her father. By examining the detail of characters with some connection to Prospero, like Miranda and Caliban for example, makes it simpler to assess his character. For the reason that the way he acts around different people shapes his personality.Order now
Prospero’s name means ‘fortunate’ or ‘prosperous’ which is worth taking into account when studying aspects of his character. I should consider whether he uses his powers wisely and humanely or selfishly, as this will uncover a larger proportion of his hidden personality. My original opinion of Prospero was that he has a significant role in the play. Immediately he acts powerful even towards his daughter, ‘naught knowing of whence I am, nor that I am more better.’ He is implying she knows nothing and urges her to calm down as the tempest was for her sake. Prospero is also demanding, ‘sit down’ plus feminist criticisms are noticeable at this time.
They would argue that Miranda is being put down and that her status is too low in comparison to Prospero’s. Again, and still only just into the scene, Prospero is coming across as a commanding character ‘obey and be attentive.’ He speaks for Miranda in some cases, he asks her- what do you remember form your childhood, yet before she has time to completely respond, he is condescending towards her and assumes she doesn’t remember much at all. It is largely of consequence that we recognise the fact Prospero talks of his past. He reminds Miranda, (therefore the audience also) of his importance and status he once had in Milan.
In my opinion this reveals and confirms a feature of his character that will not change throughout the play. He lost his Dukedom because he failed to recognise his brother’s ambition and because he neglected his first duty, the governing of Milan. As he himself tells Miranda, ‘the government I cast upon my brother, And to my state grew stranger, being transported and rapt in secret studies.’ I think this honesty of Prospero illustrates that however authoritative and serious he acts he is willing to be sincere in this situation and face reality, he knows he made mistakes. His treatment by his brother, Antonio, has taught him not to trust appearances. It may look as if Ferdinand loves Miranda, but Prospero is determined to test the strength of this love. ‘They are both in either’s pow’rs: but this swift business I must uneasy make, lest too light winning make the prize light.’
It may be of importance to question if Prospero is as affectionate and kind as he suggests. For instance, he tells Miranda that ‘I have done nothing but in care of thee/ of thee my dear one; thee, my daughter,’ although it was his behaviour that caused Miranda’s fate in the first place. His attitude towards others, as I pointed out earlier, should also be considered. He appears to love Ariel; ‘Do you love me master?’ asks the spirit. ‘Dearly, my delicate Ariel.’ Nevertheless he can behave cruelly to him, ‘…malignant thing! Hast thou forgot the foul witch Sycorax, who with age and envy was grown into a hoop? Has thou forgot her?’
Ariel asks Prospero for his freedom and Prospero accuses him of ingratitude. Ariel is told that he must continue to obey his master or risk being imprisoned in an oak tree. Prospero’s threats leave Ariel promising to be obedient; he is still under Prospero’s command but irritatingly tempts Ariel with freedom. This gives me another thought about his character, and what his priorities are. What is Prospero without Ariel? I consider this a vital question if I aim to explain in detail his personality. Ariel entitles Prospero to use magical powers. He considers himself to be a strong character already in this play and proposes this well. However, I think his powers are all which makes him feel this way, because they allow him to treat characters in an inferior way to himself. Without them himself and Miranda would be stranded on the island. Since other characters are aware of his abilities, I think it makes them respond to him carefully and not necessarily honestly.
Although, Caliban isn’t afraid to speak his mind and address Prospero as if they are of the same status, like when he suggests the island had belonged to him- but since Prospero had landed there, he took over. ‘Thou didst prevent me, I had people else this isle with calibans.’ He challenges Prospero, which is of rarity within the play so far from many of the other characters, who barely face up to him. Caliban in addition insists that Prospero is not only ruthless but also hypocritical. When he had first arrived on the island, he had befriended Caliban, teaching him to speak. Caliban had, in return, shared his knowledge of the island with Prospero but Prospero had enslaved him. Caliban is totally dominated by Prospero. These points also help me create a profile of him and assess his level of loyalty and honesty.
I believe that in some ways Prospero’s unfair behaviour and nasty language towards Caliban has passed on to Miranda in the second scene and changed her character also. She entered the play as an innocent and weak girl, and almost transformed into a disrespectful, impolite girl. Calling Caliban ‘savage’ ‘gabble like’ and ‘a thing most brutish.’ This is significant as it identifies how much his physical power is able to change another’s character. For the sake of other characters to think that he has that much influence on them, to cause them to act how he would in situations, it is daunting also. Prospero certainly does use his powers to his advantage, he puts Miranda in a deep sleep so that Ariel can tell him what has been happening, this was once they had reached the present island, as he was determined to have the upper hand once established there.
During this second scene Prospero shows love for, and gratitude towards Gonzalo also. ‘A noble Neapolitan.’ Prospero’s severity towards Caliban must rate as his greatest weakness. It is vindictive to plague Caliban, who is only twenty-four with severe arthritis. ‘Hag-seed, hence! Fetch us in fuel; and be quick, thou’rt best, to answer other business. Shrug’st thou, malice? As well as him suggesting, ‘I’ll rack thee with old cramps, fill all thy bones with aches, make thee roar.’ It is an appealing psychological truth that it is easier to hurt people if we humiliate them in our own minds. Using language to diminish the person is one of the easiest ways to do so. If Prospero uses non-human metaphors to describe Caliban, which he does, such as ‘hag-seed’ or ‘litter,’ it is a small move towards treating him as subhuman.
My views of him did change throughout the whole scene. Some of his traits will never change. Like the obsessive desire to gain and maintain huge amounts of power, it is within his blood to want control and want authority, in my opinion. His manner towards other cast may differ at times in the play, as to create tension and a greater impact perhaps. His general mood is sergeant like- demanding and tense, which sets an uneasy tone at times. Within the Elizabethan period they considered order of importance. I think Shakespeare’s intention was to impress the audience at the time. In doing so he has created a particular person (prospero) who massively fits the preferred characteristics and traits. He has previously intrigued the audience into the play with the dramatic first scene. Now it is a priority to begin revealing the story behind the tempest.
Prospero’s character does so without difficulty. He introduces new characters such as Ferdinand, and schemes plans to increase the tension. Keeping the audience on the edge of their seats. Relationships are likely to develop or repel as the story unfolds. Although, my opinion of him at the early stages of his appearance are not that dissimilar to them throughout act one scene two. Immediately, he (and Miranda) created an immense image, which is how he still presents himself at the end. Obviously my opinions changed in the way that they developed, but overall they didn’t transform just grew.
Once I realised Prospero created the storm my opinions differed, and again when I discovered the reasons for his actions, and that Antonio was his brother. They all allowed me to assess his character a little more. However at this stage I hadn’t created a completely clear image of his character in my mind, so therefore my views of him were altering incessantly. Already I suspect that Prospero is the main character and must sustain the interest of the audience. He could be played as a magnanimous man or a nasty sorcerer. Either way, his character can be measured through the ways I have chosen