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The Tempest - Prospero character analysis - How do his actions and the attitude of the characters to him relate to the events and thinking of Shakespeare's day?

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Introduction

The Tempest essay Consider the character of Prospero and show how he used his position to control many of the characters in the play and how his actions contribute to the dramatic effectiveness. How do his actions and the attitude of the characters to him relate to the events and thinking of Shakespeare's day? In the Tempest, the character of Prospero is the protagonist. Prospero is the father of Miranda and has spent twelve years on the island since he was usurped from being the Duke of Milan. Prospero is a powerful man, which makes him a good leader. He is very knowledgeable because of the books he read. He also has control, because he can be harsh and firm but also virtuous towards others. Prospero would also seem a cruel character to a modern day audience because of sense of control and harshness he has over the other characters. However this would have been accepted, as the traits of a good leader because in Shakespeare's day being a good leader would entail being harsh and cruel towards others so therefore Prospero was looked upon as a good leader. This connects to James the first (the King at the time Shakespeare wrote this play) because Shakespeare is suggesting that James the first has these qualities, (harshness, cruel, firm) because he is a King just like Prospero in the play. In Shakespeare's time it would have be expected that a good leader should be harsh and firm- often the leader was head of his family. ...read more.

Middle

Ferdinand is the knight in this game because at the end he is a respected piece, with a small amount of power, but first he is downgraded to a pawn because Prospero makes Ferdinand his slave and slaves have no power. In the end he is worthy enough for Miranda and is therefore more powerful so is promoted back to being a knight in the game chess because he is eventually respected and excepted by the King, Prospero. Ariel is like a castle, because a castle has the potential to move through many squares but is usually unable to do this due to the control of the King Prospero. The King still has lots of control over the castle. The castle is a vital piece if you want to be in with a chance of winning the game. This is like Ariel because Ariel is vital to Prospero in many ways. He helps Prospero by doing the tasks that he needs doing. Finally at the end of the game it's 'checkmate' and Prospero gets the King of the opponents side. This means that Prospero gets to become the King of Naples once again. Prospero controls all the pieces because he is King and this relates to Shakespeare because Shakespeare has written the play and has therefore had total control of every piece including Prospero -the King! So Shakespeare is the player, much like Prospero although Prospero is also a chess piece -King- Chess is a game of skill and careful thought and that is what qualities Prospero has but so to does Shakespeare, the player. ...read more.

Conclusion

This also connects to James the first because he had an interest in magic. Prospero has authority over Caliban and often orders him to do things, "come forth!" "fetch us in fuel" We know that Caliban realises his position and understands the power that Prospero has because in reply to his orders Caliban says, " I must obey. His art is of such power, it would control my dam's God Setebos." When Prospero treats Caliban with violence, "Whom stripes are my mine not kindness," this connects to the idea that if you are good you will be good in education and it is worth educating you, but if you are said to be 'bad in blood' then education is pointless therefore the only form of control is violence and that is why Prospero uses violence towards Caliban- because he is not worth educating. When this play is dramatised Caliban could be represented as a creature that is grovelling on the floor next to Prospero showing a height difference meaning that Prospero is more powerful and human like. Prospero is more powerful than Caliban because they each try to curse each other but the curses from Caliban are empty because he has a lack of power. The start of the play immediately fills the audience with suspense, because they do not know what is going on and there is a sense of chaos and action that adds to the dramatic effectiveness. This opening scene does not tell the audience much, and it also seems normal because there is nothing supernatural or strange about it. ...read more.

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