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 little torments inflicted on Caliban, who fears Prospero greatly. His all-encompassing, paternal love for his daughter also elicits sympathy, for what father does not wish he could put all suitors to the test, as Ferdinand is tested He may seem harsh, but he fears,
"..too light winning
Make the prize light." (Act 2, Sc. 1, L. 451-452)
Miranda's view of her father, based on her experience and knowledge of the man, serves to show him in a sympathetic light:
"Be of comfort; My father's of a better nature, sir,
Than he appears by speech: this is unwonted
Which now came from him." (Act 2, Sc. 1, L. 493-496) and again, she reiterates,
"Never till this day
Saw I him touched with anger so distempered." (Act 4, Sc. 1, L. 144-145)
He also displays a fairness, honesty and desire to see his daughter and Ferdinand happy, as he allows their betrothal:
"...I tender to thy hand. All