Essay about The Character of Prospero in Shakespeare's The Tempest

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The Character of Prospero in The Tempest

The presence of Prospero is felt continuously in The Tempest, even in those scenes in which he does not appear personally. He is the manipulator of the action of the play, and occupies the center of the stage very markedly, especially if one compares his position with that of the central characters of, say, most of Shakespeare's history plays. For in the latter plays, England itself becomes the hero - the English crown, in its resistance to civil war and factionalism, and therefore there is usually no one character of quite the same stature as Prospero.

In Latin, the name Prospero would mean, "I hope for." That which a member of English Renaissance society would generally
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It might be better to describe the process the characters all go through as initiation, not simply education.

The point is that Prospero also learns. While he is master all through the play, he has learned well before its opening that a Prince cannot abdicate his responsibilities. It will be recalled that Prospero had lost his Dukedom in Milan in part because he neglected his everyday duties in favor of his more abstract and theoretical studies. A Prince, Duke, or King cannot abdicate his responsibilities. Prospero had been wrong when he had tried to do so, and in a way had himself been punished by exile. But during his exile he has mastered both his own nature and his surroundings, and has learned what his duty is as a ruler. He is doing only what he should when he resumes his position as the ruler of Milan. In other Shakespearean plays, any ruler who abdicates or surrenders power, such as King Lear or Richard II - especially if he surrenders power voluntarily as did Lear - always comes to grief, and his act may lead not only to his own destruction but to the ruin of the political order of the state, as nearly happens in King Lear. The theory of kingship held by many Elizabethans implied that once God had appointed his viceregent in the person of a ruler, it was not for the ruler to attempt to modify
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