Critique of the Character Prospero in The Tempest: Master of Manipulation or Hero

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The Tempest, together with other plays written towards the end of Shakespear's career, is often described as a 'romance'. The literary definition would inform that this is a genre in which anything can happen, it does not have to portray a realistic representation of life, it can be as exciting, strange, other-worldly or heroic as the story demands.


Though superficially, he may appear to some as a powerful, controlling, manipulative magician, harnessing the forces of the natural and supernatural in his environment, closer examination suggests he is more than these things. Is his island a paradise (as Ferdinand suggests), with Prospero Lord of All, or is it a place of exile for him and his beloved daughter Miranda It is a place from which he wishes to escape, to retrieve his birthright and his humanity, because everything that occurs from the shipwreck to the epilogue, is centered on Prospero's wish to make these things happen.
The contradictions in his character serve to highlight his humanity; he is like all of us, a mix of good and not so nice. When relating to Miranda, the story of how they came to be on the island, he shows much loving tenderness, yet is sharp in his demands for attention.
There is love and affection too, in his interaction with the spirit Ariel, which he has, after all set free, yet the threats Prospero issues appear to contradict these positive aspects of their relationship.
Similarly, where Caliban is concerned, despite the knowledge of the plot to kill him, and his view of the creature, based on experience, Prospero allows Caliban his freedom, in the spirit of true forgiveness.
This though, is contradicted by the various cramps and pinches, nasty l ...
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