Defending Prospero in Shakespeare's The Tempest Essay

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Defending Prospero in The Tempest In William Shakespeare's The Tempest, the character of Prospero brings about a great deal of debate. Modern literary critics are quick to use him as a poster child for English colonial practice in the sixteenth and seventeenth century. Many see him as person who desires complete control of everything around him from the fish-like monster Caliban to his spirit servant Ariel, even his own daughter Miranda. Others believe that Prospero's sole motive is revenge on his brother Antonio and those associated with the established power in Naples and Milan. Taken out of context, these are reasonable conclusions. However, in the development of the play, it is quite clear that these critics are incorrect.…show more content…
Prospero is wise and would not knowledgeably violate the trust of not only his daughter, but the only person on the island that cares for him. However, even if these words were empty, his actions are not. When Caliban threatened to attack and rape Miranda, Prospero was forced to use his magic to keep Caliban captive so that there would no longer be any immediate threat to her. Prospero's decision to indenture Caliban puts him on tentative moral footing, but it is difficult to believe that Prospero had any other choice. His only other options would have been to kill Caliban or to leave the island himself. To readjust Caliban's nature would have been impossible considering that Caliban himself implies that if he had another opportunity, he would try to rape Miranda again. Leaving the island altogether is the completely moral choice, but obviously if had been that simple, Prospero would already have escaped rather than causing a storm to set events in motion. Furthermore, Prospero's decision to try to couple Miranda and Ferdinand was an act of love, not a play for power. Had unbridled ambition been his only goal, Prospero would not have sought to make the union between the two more difficult "They are both in either's powers. But this swift business I would uneasy make, lest too light winning make the prize light" (Prospero, I, ii, 541-544). Prospero clearly intends for his daughter to fall in love with Ferdinand, but wants

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