Tempest Is a Play That Is Chiefly Essay

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Tempest is a play that is chiefly constructed by Shakespeare's enigmatic character -- Prospero, the rightful Duke of Milan who has his position usurped by his brother Antonio. Antonio puts Prospero and his daughter Miranda on a ship to go out to sea. The plan is that they will die, but the boat ends up landing on a desert island. Prospero has revenge on his mind throughout the entire play. He wants his brother to pay for what he has done. When Prospero's enemies are out at sea, coming back from a wedding, Prospero creates a tempest -- a great storm -- which attacks their ship and then leaves them shipwrecked about Prospero's island. Prospero goes through many changes throughout the Tempest, which is what makes him such an intriguing character. He goes from being a rather vengeful and rude man to a man who finds his protective, fatherly nature on the island. It is these changes in Prospero that make Shakespeare's play about shipwrecked individuals and their quest for self-identity amidst a foreign place so captivating.

The character of Prospero is a mysterious character -- perhaps one of Shakespeare's most interesting and changing, arguably. We feel for Prospero because he has had his title of Duke of Milan usurped by his brother, yet there are qualities to Prospero's personality that are very disagreeable, which make it hard for us to sympathize with him though that is what we would like to do. It is because of these two contradicting elements in Prospero's character that make the reader of the Tempest unsure of what to feel for and about him.

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When we first meet Prospero he is self-interested, trying to keep Miranda's attention as he tells her the story of his usurpation, discussing the "false uncle" and how that uncle became "absolute Milan" (I.ii.77, 109). Miranda is unquestionably bored -- near the brink of falling asleep -- ("Your tale, sir, would cure deafness" (I.ii, 107) and it is only after Prospero is able to talk about something that doesn't have to do with knowledge and power that Miranda again pays attention to what he is saying.

Essay on Tempest Is a Play That Is Chiefly Assignment

Prospero has a rather unsettling obsession with knowledge as he is aware that knowledge is power -- and he uses his knowledge precisely for this. This is the main reason that Prospero had his position as Duke usurped by his brother. Prospero had such a strong desire for knowledge that he was not tending to his duties as Duke. It is only because of this that his brother had the chance to take his position away from him. We feel bad for Prospero, but his usurpation isn't that bad if we were to compare it to Claudius in Hamlet; though Antonio does put Miranda and Prospero on a ship, they do not die. The Tempest is a comedy, after all. Prospero is a scholar of the magical world and it is only through his usurpation that he is able to put his knowledge to use and fulfill his true purpose in life; this is the purpose of this play. This means that Prospero's having his title taken away from him is symbolic because it was only that -- a title. It was not who he was and it was not his purpose in his life. When Prospero can realize that a man is not what title he is given but rather whom he chooses to become, he will understand that his title of Duke was meaningless. Prospero was banished from his land. When he and his daughter land upon the desert island, it is then and there that Prospero is able to fulfill what he was really meant to become. He becomes a prince of the land as the spirits and the gnomes of the island respect Prospero and are there to serve him. However, it is one this desert island that Prospero fulfills his true nature as a father.

Prospero could be described as a rather grumpy old man -- especially when it comes to Caliban who has a thing for Prospero's daughter Miranda. He calls Caliban a "bestial thing," is often quite rude with Ariel (whom he actually likes) -- continuously threatening to return his to imprisonment, and he is often short with Ferdinand who is courting Miranda. Moreover, Prospero renders punishments on Caliban that are trifling and spiteful; for example, whenever Caliban swears he receives a pinch (though these are quite amusing). Though Prospero is more often than… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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