Similarities Between Principal Characters in Shakespeare's The Tempest

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Similarities Between Principal Characters in Shakespeare's The Tempest

In almost every respect, Gonzalo's ideas on how best to govern an island relate directly in some form to Prospero's existing reign. Gonzalo, an honest, sage, aging councilor first openly asserts his vision of a perfect society while meandering with his comrades on the sandy beach of some uninhabited, distant isle. Prospero's own notion on how a society should be set up and governed is evidenced most clearly through his current rule over the island he had long before washed ashore on. In William Shakespeare's The Tempest, Gonzalo's vision of ruling and maintaining a commonwealth mirrors that of the actual rule of Prospero.

Gonzalo first states that, in contrast to ordinary custom, trade in his commonwealth would be completely abolished. He undoubtedly believes that the benefits of self-reliance far outweigh the gains made by engaging in trade with neighboring isles. Prospero oversees no traffic on his isle more out of necessity than by choice. Branded an outcast and banished to an uninhabited island after his exile from Naples, Prospero is left alone with only his infant daughter, Miranda, and precious few resources to survive on. He engages in no trade because he has not the means, the goods nor the desire. Prospero owns no seafaring vessel to carry him to neighboring shores. He has no workforce to gather or cultivate resources worthy to be traded. And he undoubtedly feels that the best revenge against those who attempted to destroy him is simply to come through and provide for his daughter and others all on his own, without outside aid, through sheer willpower and keen intellect. Therefore, Gonzalo's call for the abolishment of trade on his imaginary island is seen in reality through the rule of Prospero.

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Gonzalo also envisions a society without a magistrate of any kind to judge the law and punish criminal offenders. He boldly declares that a judge would not be a needed or useful element of the paradise he visualizes. Prospero also does not have an official to ponder the intricacies of law and deliver verdicts on cases heard in court. The magician, himself a wise, learned man, obviously feels confident enough in his own abilities to decide on what is just and who is to blame when problems of the law arise.

Gonzalo also asserts that on his isle, "Letters ...

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