William Shakespear's Tempest

Authors Avatar

Explain how you would direct a production of Act 1 Scene 2 of the Tempest. What do we learn about the character of Prospero from the play and from this scene in particular?

William Shakespeare wrote The Tempest in 1610, it was one of the last plays he wrote before his death in 1616. It has been said that Prospero’s character is mirrored around William Shakespeare, Shakespeare based Prospero on himself.

The Tempest is about a usurped duke, Prospero, who is set adrift on a small boat with his daughter Miranda by his evil brother Antonio. Prospero and his daughter end up on an enchanted island where Prospero begins to learn magic, using his magic he frees Ariel from a tree and enslaves Caliban, a hero and villainous task.

Twelve years later, Prospero see’s a royal boat passing the island carrying Antonio, Alonso, the king of Naples who helped usurp Prospero. Sebastian, Alonso’s brother and Gonzalo, the kindly courtier who gave Prospero food, water, clothes and the vital magic books. Prospero summons a tempest, with the help of Ariel, and wrecks the ship onto the island, separating them into four different groups. This deed makes Prospero quite the villain as there were many innocent sailors aboard the boat that had done nothing against him.

This part of the play is very much like a game of chess, and Prospero is the player. Prospero manipulates how all the characters move to benefit himself, Ferdinand miraculously meets Miranda and falls in love. Prospero could accept their love but instead he forces Ferdinand to do hard labour to “prove” his love for her, he does this even when Miranda begs him not too. This part of the play shows the inequality between men and women, in Shakespeare’s time women had no rights. They weren’t aloud to act in plays or aloud to have any rights of their own, in Elizabethan times women were “owned” by their fathers or their husbands.


Stephano and Trinculo meet Caliban and begin to plot the murder of Prospero; Prospero however doesn’t see this is a major threat to his life as he doesn’t act to stop them until they’re outside of his cave. When he does act all he does is summon a group of hounds to chase them away, with all the options he had at his disposal he chose one of the less violent options. This makes him a hero rather then a villain, choosing a “nicer” option to deal with a threat to his life.

All of the nobles are placed in a group together; Alonso is mourning his “dead” son, although the audience knows that Ferdinand is alive. It could be seen that Prospero is making Alonso mourn the loss of something dear to him just as Prospero lost his dukedom. Although it would seem that Prospero would want to extract his revenge on the nobles he does do some heroism towards them such as when Ariel awakes Alonso and Gonzalo just before they are murdered by Antonio and Sebastian. Another heroic deed is when he forgives them all at the end, even his evil brother Antonio who set him and his daughter, Miranda, adrift in the sea.

Join now!

Although Prospero wasn’t just a hero in this scene, he did summon a harpy to accuse the nobles of their wrong deeds, not the must subtle of ways to do it.

Prospero is a mixture of both, a hero and a villain, in the play. Prospero causes many villainous and heroic actions which determines the end result of everyone coming together. His first act is one of villainy, Prospero summons a tempest to wreck a ship carrying his enemies but also carrying many innocent sailors.

His last act however is one of heroism, with Ariel convincing him, ...

This is a preview of the whole essay