During the course of the play, Prospero is always scheming on his plan to get his justice back from what the nobles did to him. I believe that Prospero is justified towards the others during the play, as there is lots of evidence to support this statement. A good example is when Caliban tries to rape Miranda; Prospero is justified in how he treats Caliban in the play. He treats Caliban like dirt and does not regard him as a very humane being, and this is shown when he says, “Thy poisonous slave, got by the devil himself Upon thy wicked dam, come forth”. Before the play, Prospero and Caliban had a good relationship but what Caliban did to Miranda changed their relationship instantly as Prospero uses his magic to treat Caliban as his slave and constantly threatens him if he does comply with Prospero’s commands. Therefore Caliban’s behaviour means that Prospero is justified in his behaviour.
Another example to support this statement is when Caliban, Trinculo and Stephano attempt to kill Prospero as he is sleeping. They take advantage of what they think is a good opportunity to get back at the oppressor. This plot against Prospero would make him annoyed especially at Caliban because Caliban, despite Prospero’s threatening, does not choose to give up; he keeps trying to rebel against Prospero. This is mainly Caliban’s plot but this evidence adds to my earlier point of Caliban acting badly against Prospero, which allows Prospero to be justified in his behaviour and to have justified revenge. However Prospero decides not to punish Caliban for his plot to kill him, he dismisses the failure and says, “Take with you your companions. As you look to have my pardon, trim it handsomely”. This is not the reaction you would expect from Prospero but he decided not to lash out at Caliban.
Prospero’s revenge could be justified as he tries to protect his daughter Miranda, the nobles sent the two of them on a ship to die but they manage to survive. Although Prospero is seemed to be cruel towards Ferdinand as he falls in love with Miranda. I think that Prospero has every right to behave like this because many times Miranda has been put under danger and it must be hard for Prospero to give her up to Ferdinand so easily as he has spent many years to protect her. He instructs Ferdinand on how to treat her, he says, “But if thou dost break thy virgin know before all sanctimonious ceremonies”. This shows a very strict side to Prospero, which is what you would expect from how protective he is of Miranda.
Prospero has a lot of power in the play due to his magic books and in my opinion he should be able to use it. This is an idea of kingship as Prospero has vast amount of power and should be able to do it. This is shown in the play as he controls the nobles and his servants and this point justifies how he behaves throughout the play. However there is one dramatic moment in the play where Prospero lets go of all his power instead of becoming possible a very successful ruler.
Prospero is a cruel tyrant.
However there are points in the play, which suggest Prospero is a cruel tyrant instead of a justified ruler. Firstly it could be said his behaviour towards Caliban in the play is unjust as he was initially kind to Caliban by teaching him language and treating him more like a servant than a slave. This kind relationship is then broken as Prospero decides to take control of the entire island from Caliban and Sycorax with brute force and then threatens to torture Caliban if he tries to rebel, “I’ll rack thee with old cramps, fill all thy bones with aches, make thee roar…”. This could portray Prospero as a cruel oppressor as he takes advantage of his superiority and strong power.
Even though Prospero may use his power for good and for his justified revenge, he seems to enjoy controlling the nobles more than necessary for example during the sub-plot when Caliban, Trinculo and Stephano attempt to kill Prospero. He enjoys moving the characters around the island almost as if they are his puppets or chess pieces in which he gets his fun from by playing with them. This over-use of power could make him seem like he is a very merciless ruler and treats others worse than they treat him.
Prospero’s plot has some very cruel aspect in it for example when he lies to Alonso about his son, Ferdinand, being killed by the storm. Alonso is made to think this throughout the entirety of the play and this shows to have very serious effects on Alonso for example when he talks about committing suicide by drowning himself, he says, “I’ll seek him deeper than e’er plummet sounded, and with him there lie mudded”. Only a very barbarous oppressor would do this to his victims who in this case are the nobles and this agrees with the statement.
In the play, Prospero in many cases takes advantages of things such as Ariel. Although he did free Ariel from being trapped in a tree, he keeps him as a servant for a very long time. Sometimes when Ariel mentions the fact that one day Prospero has to let him free, Prospero then counters it by saying if it weren’t for Prospero, Ariel would not be able to be free like he is. This shows that Prospero takes advantage of what he has and knows others cant up rise easily against him because he has much superior power and these advantages are overused in my opinion and make him a cruel tyrant.
How far and in what ways do you agree with these statements?
Overall I believe that I agree more with the first statement because all his actions, whether good or bad, have a good reason as to why they are being done. A good example is how Prospero mistreats Caliban physically and mentally but this is all justified because Caliban attempted to rape Miranda. Prospero has spend a lot of time and energy looking after his daughter and for someone to go and try rape her would make Prospero angry and want to make Caliban suffer for his actions. In my opinion he is allowed to behave like this.
The second statement is not very true in a few cases as there are always counter argument that could be made to why Prospero is acting like a cruel tyrant. For example, Prospero is able to control the nobles easily and place them on the island wherever he wants and finds this activity slightly enjoyable. This is exactly the revenge he has been waiting years for from when he was banished from Naples so I think he has reason for his actions, he is not just a nasty commander, acting without reason.