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Is Prospero the wronged Duke of Milan, or a cruel colonial master?

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Introduction

Is Prospero the wronged Duke of Milan, or a cruel colonial master? Prospero had his throne usurped by his brother and he and his daughter set adrift to survive only by chance. Prospero appears to wish to restore justice and himself to power by any means at his disposal which includes magic and enslaving Caliban and Ariel. Ultimately there is a happy ending; Prospero forgives everyone; Miranda and Ferdinand fall in love, Ariel gains his freedom and Caliban remains on the island. However the end does not necessarily justify the means, in that although Prospero has been treated badly himself, his treatment of Caliban and Ariel is harsh and immoral. Consequently the sympathy of the audience moves between the characters, initially having sympathy for the shipwrecked and usurped Prospero and later, surprisingly, for the much maligned and manipulated Caliban as the audience gains different insights into the events, characters and the challenging situation the characters find themselves in. When Prospero first arrives on the island, he enslaves Caliban and Ariel; his relationship with Caliban is very negative, he does not treat Caliban well and makes horrible threats; 'Thou most lying slave, Whom stripes may move, not kindness' In contrast, Prospero's relationship with Ariel is mainly positive and Ariel serves Prospero willingly; 'Told thee no lies, made no mistakes, serv'd Without grudge or grumblings.' ...read more.

Middle

Prospero says that he has racked Calibans' body with cramps and side stitches and also threatens him with the same torture. On the one hand Trinculo talks about how in England Caliban could have been shown off as 'any strange beast' for money which demonstrates the intolerant attitude of people towards different people. Also in Act III Caliban's speech about the islands 'noises' showed a more sensitive and human side of Caliban; 'Be not afeard, the isle is full of noises, Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not,' This is very effective in making the audience question Caliban's character and reminding them that he lived on the island first and whether the initial harsh view of Caliban was accurate. However Caliban seems to want to have a master; he sets up Stefano as the next master, who probably would not have been any better than Prospero, as he was offering to show Caliban off like a freak to the public who would treat him badly as well, because of him being different. It also shows Caliban's vulnerability as he finds another master who thinks; 'This will prove a brave kingdom to me, where I shall have my music for nothing' Ariel is a spirit that was imprisoned in a 'Cloven Pine' by Sycorax; this ordeal was obviously very painful for him, 'What torment I did find thee in. ...read more.

Conclusion

After he had done that, Prospero had decided to learn about magic whilst Antonio plotted his plans to overthrow him. If he had taken more care he would not have been overthrown. Prospero is a cruel colonial master because he has enslaved Caliban and Ariel to do his bidding when they clearly wish that he would let them go or never came to the island (apart from at the start possibly when Prospero was kind to Caliban and released Ariel from a tree); Prospero did take advantage of Caliban by getting him to show him the islands qualities and then apparently without a just cause, started treating him badly. Ariel has had a tough time, being locked in a tree, and being badly treated even before Prospero arrived, but has remained loyal and trustworthy, and Ariel is shown as a more pleasant character than Caliban who is portrayed as a beast not even fit for a human body. In conclusion, I believe that Prospero did take the island from Caliban, but I am not very sympathetic to Caliban after he tried to rape his daughter and I also believe that Prospero deserved to be overthrown by the way he treated his role as Duke and that he is a cruel colonial master to Caliban and Ariel and that he should free them so they will be happy. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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