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Shakespeare’s The Tempest is an incredible play. The major characters in the play are drawn with extraordinary potency. In Prospero, we have a description of unusual wisdom. He was, formerly, not merely a prince, not really a righteous man; but he had the nature to be both. As a prince, he forgot that he had to exercise his superiority carefully to fight his enemies; who could only be submissive by a vigilant command and discretion, and that, in particular circumstances, the armor must never to be suspended. Prospero had devoted his time to mastering his magical arts. Although his intentions were to use the magic for the good, distancing himself from his primary tasks of ruling and giving all the power to his brother, Alonso, became the primary circumstances that started a chain of events that brought him and his daughter to the island (Hunt 277).
It was easy for his own brother, whom he had trusted to be his deputy, to betray him. With the help of another King, he was deposed from his dukedom. Prospero rescued himself, Miranda (his daughter), and a fraction of his mystical manuscripts, upon a desolate territory island. He lost his dukedom, but, thankfully, he still had the possessions he valued above it – his books (II, 167-168). There is no doubt it was a very hard time for Prospero, and he only delighted in his daughter. Miranda became the center of his existence and the reason to live for. Fortunately, the old boat, they were put on by Alonso’s servant, Gonzalo, brought them to the island; mostly uninhabited.
The first creature, Prospero met on the island, was Caliban, who was the son of the evil witch, Sycorax. “A freckled whelp hag-born—not honour’d with/A human shape “(I, 283,284) who never “Yields us kind answer” (I, 306,307). The relationship between the two started friendly, as Caliban himself says, “…and then I loved thee” (I, 332-337). Prospero taught Caliban how to speak and took good care of him; “Filth as thou art, with human care; and lodged thee…” (I, 346-347). Prospero admires the qualities of Caliban’s indigenous aptitude and hard work and his ability to survive in the wild. The aliens are reliant on Caliban for their living, yet subdue and enchain him. Prospero says, “…he does make our fire/ Fetch in our wood” (II, 311-315). Caliban turned out to be a wild and immoral creature, since he attempted to rape Miranda. Hunt elucidates that Caliban is shrewd, animalistically impetuous, murderous, ignorant of all cultural refinements and sexual mores, vulnerable to alcohol, and strong-smelling. He is also courageous, alert to beauty, freedom-loving, hospitably generous, unselfconscious, and immune to the blandishments of consumerist materialism (277).
Caliban considered the island his property that he inherited after the death of his mother, Sycorax. He thought Prospero came to the island with the goal of repossessing it from him. Thus, there was a constant struggle between Prospero and Caliban. Prospero managed to control Caliban simply by using his magic arts. Despite everything Caliban learned from Prospero, he turned out to be ruthless; and no sooner had he gotten an opportunity to escape from Prospero than he pledged his loyalty to another man. Shakespeare gives us insights into the beautiful side of Caliban’s character – Caliban is very sensitive to the music Ariel, which is playing, he understands the beauty, the music, he knows his island and waters. According to Hunt, Caliban became a prototype of the American natives. When the first colonists came to America, natives lived in harmony with their land. They welcomed travelers and missionaries, who brought new knowledge along with the new culture (277).
Caliban is perpetually causing distress and acting unruly and unmanageable, but lighthearted and imaginative at the same time. Caliban does not comply with Prospero’s determination. The creature makes us wonder how he exists as he is, yet Prospero is omniscient, all-powerful and totally in control on the island. The only argument that can be thought of as to why Caliban can cause so much trouble and rebellion and jeopardy in Prospero’s perfectly restricted atmosphere is that Caliban is Prospero’s identification. He is a creature of the earth, and part of him. Prospero has taken ownership of him, although he is not accountable for his evil actions. Caliban is, in fact, Prospero’s unconscious power and physical strength over the island (Hunt 277).
Prospero is a hard taskmaster; however, he is fair in his dealings with the spirits. He uses his magic arts, as he calls them, first to survive on the island and then to retrieve his dukedom. He has a special mantle, stuff and books. As Caliban pointed out, Prospero would be powerless without his books. His magical arts come from his intelligence, knowledge, and experience. Back in Milano he devoted himself to learn all he could, practice and polish his skills to the neglect of his dukedom. While on the island, he used his powers, to some extent, mainly to keep his slaves under subjection. His magic is not evil or dark, but it is very powerful. Caliban points that Prospero lives and waits for the opportunity to revenge and to return from his exile. His only relationship is to his daughter and to his slaves (Hunt 277).
Ariel, a kind of air creature, is Prospero’s intelligent agent of authority. Ariel is deliberately directed; and is cultured and controlled. He is not obstructed by time and space, but he is the coherent and reasonable approach by which Prospero effects transformations in the superficial world. Ariel is the origin of the tempest, happens to be the tempest itself, and he is Prospero’s conscious revenge; his disappointment and his annoyance. Prospero appears to be peaceful, but his plans are not bringing peace. So when the opportunity arises, and the ship with his enemies is close to his shores, he commands Ariel to create a storm to get the people to the short, but not to hurt them. He wants to deal with them and in a separate matter. He wants to spare the man who was kind to him – Gonzalo. Furthermore, as Prospero learns (from the spirit, Ariel), about the men suffering from madness and confusion that were sent to them, the transformation is taking place in his own life. He sees Alonso suffering from guilt and from grieving over his lost son (Hunt 277).
Prospero realizes the need for forgiveness and mercy. He becomes softer and from then onwards, treats his “captives” as friends and guests. He sets Ariel free, just as he promised. The transformation is so sudden and complete that Prospero also decides not to use his magic arts any more. He destroys his stuff and drowns his books, which at some point in his life were more precious to him than dukedom itself. Now he realizes that he wants to be back to Milano, to be with his people that loved him. Now is the time to value his dukedom more than his books. The books gave him power, but they did not give him happiness. His daughter Miranda found her happiness without any magic when she met Ferdinand, and they fell in love. Prospero realizes that although there are many things in life that are out of people’s control, there are miracles that are even more outstanding than any sorcerers or witches could ever perform. He personally thinks of his magic as potent, but also as rough (1.50).
The Tempest depicts Prospero as a man of personal weakness and insufficiency, locked in hermetic solitude. The magical art which yields him such spectacular practical control of his environment, far from remedying this unhappy self-involvement, only exacerbates it (Hunt 277). From the moment he drowned his book, his life became ordinary in many senses. He has very little power to get what he wants or to have control over elements or powers. He wants to live and to have feelings. Nevertheless, the old man eventually realizes that he is going home to Milano to die. Hence, he dedicates himself to evaluating his life and the important things in it.
Thus, Prospero has grown and learn many things from the island. He has become a more accountable ruler and has also learned to forgive his enemies. He now takes responsibility of Caliban, his shadow, his unconscious, and fully accepts and owns him. This implies that he has taken a vast step of assimilating his shadow in himself; and accepting the nature of humanity. His enthusiasm to renounce his magic and the fantasy world, and his comeback to the true world as an earthly being, is his completion of the whole procedure. The island was an atmosphere of change, reunion, knowledge, rebirth and repentance (Hunt 277). He has not only learned how to rule and forgive, but also to live with others and to discern, recognize and acknowledge himself. He is now a complete merciful human; who has conquered his desire to obliterate, retaliate and to reprimand. The conscious advanced depictions of social order and conduct have triumphed.