Is Prospero a power obsessed tyrant or an egalitarian?
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Is Prospero a power obsessed tyrant or an egalitarian? The play 'The Tempest' portrays one mans fight to bring justice to those who have betrayed him in life. This character, Prospero, once the rightful duke of Milan, was overthrown by his brother, Antonio, and is now hell bent on seeking revenge. Throughout the play, there are elements of tyranny, egalitarianism and autocracy. Although these three elements are present, it is my opinion that Prospero is overall an autocrat. I will now explore the character of Prospero and show why I believe this. Prospero and his daughter Miranda where set adrift into the Mediterranean Sea after he was overthrown. Once Prospero arrived on the island, he immediately imprisoned two people, Ariel, an airy spirit, and Caliban, a monstrous creature. Ariel her self had already been imprisoned by Sycorax, an evil witch, when Prospero reached the island. When he found her, Prospero freed her but in return made her his magical slave. Although Prospero has imprisoned Ariel he is not tyrannical in his nature. He has not used force or death to manipulate her and cannot therefore be branded a tyrant. Prospero also says 'I will discharge thee', when his work has finished. If he is willing to free Ariel after her purpose is served then he is not being tyrannical in imprisoning her as a tyrant would not free one of his captives.
I believe Prospero imprisons Miranda for her own good. He has a fatherly protectiveness over her as he knows that the outside world can be hurtful. He chooses to have complete power over Miranda, like an autocrat, to protect her. The fact that Miranda says that Prospero, 'left me to a bootless inquisition', showing that Prospero has complete power over her life as he is the only person who can actually tell her who she is. 'Bootless', shows that Miranda finds the knowledge completely useless. This shows that Prospero has complete control over what he wants Miranda to know, and is being autocratic in having this power. Prospero manipulates the characters in to doing what he wants. His main method is the use of magic. Prospero conjures the tempest which eventually brings Ferdinand, Miranda's future lover, to the island. He has done this so that he can regain his kingdom by using Ferdinand as a link to the Dukedom. By using Miranda and Ferdinand in this way, Prospero is treating them like slaves, which is similar to how he treats Ariel and Caliban. By gaining complete control this way, Prospero is being autocratic, as he has used neither for nor fair means to gain this control. Prospero longs for his dukedom back, and in my opinion has the right to try and regain power.
A true egalitarian would have equalled the injustice put upon him. From these points, it is my opinion that Prospero can be described as an autocrat. He controls with complete power without the use of fear, murder or equality, so is therefore an autocrat. I believe that this term describes Prospero accurately. He does have complete control over the island and all the character and can therefore be described as an autocrat. Prospero says to Miranda, 'so safely ordered, that there is no soul'. Prospero tries to protect Miranda by saying that some situations are more acceptable than they really are. These are his thought and he is trying to make Miranda believe what he thinks. This shows a domineering side to Prospero as he likes everyone to abide by what he believes. He is obviously domineering towards Caliban and Ariel as well. He imprisons them both so that he can have complete control over them. Finally, he is domineering toward all the character he brings to the island as he uses his magic to gain complete control over them. This shows that he is obviously power obsessed and likes to have a complete hold over everyone. Overall, the points explore tend to disprove that Prospero is an egalitarian or a power obsessed tyrant. What I do believe is that Prospero is an autocrat obsessed with keeping everyone under his control. ?? ?? ?? ?? Gary Cummins
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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay
A good essay that demonstrates a good understanding of character. There needs to be further focus on language analysis, both through the use of more quotations from the text and by fully explaining how these quotes can be used to justify the interpretations that are being made.
Marked by teacher Laura Gater 19/06/2013
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