The Tempest : Character sketch of Prospero

 Character Sketch of Prospero

Prospero is one of Shakespeare’s more enigmatic Protagonists. His character can be studied under following points –   

       •   Prospero’s early character 

      Twelve years back, Prospero was the Duke of Milan, who was known for his goodness and knowledge of liberal arts. He was very fond of books of magic and was occupied so much in studies that he neglected his duty of governing his state and held himself aloof  from the world.

     He had much faith in his brother Antonio, whose character he did not judge correctly. He left the management of state affairs to his brother, Antonio. Antonio grew ambitious of power.

      Finding Prospero engrossed in books, Antonio seized the opportunity to acquire more power and succeeded in driving out Prospero  from the state. He hatched a conspiracy with the help of the King of Naples, Alonso. Thus, Prospero paid the penalty for his indifference to his duties as the head of the state. Due to his popularity among the people, Prospero’s enemy could not destroy him but banished him from his state. 

         The noble Lord Gonzalo furnished him, at the time of his banishment, with the provisions and books that Prospero valued over his Dukedom.

    • Prospero’s Sympathetic Nature 

   Prospero’s bad experiences of life could not embitter him. His love for his daughter Miranda consoled him in his darkest hours and enabled him to endure the hardships.

      Prospero loves his daughter Miranda very much, he uses the terms of great endearment for Miranda. He calls her “beloved darling”, ” dear heart “, ” a rich gift “,”a third of his own life”.

      Talking to Ferdinand, he lavishes the highest praise upon his daughter and says that no amount of praise can do justice to her. The happiest time of his life was when he found the love of Miranda and Ferdinand attaining its fulfilment.

       Prospero’s sympathetic nature and tender feelings are also shown by his treatment of Ariel. Except one occasion when he strongly rebuked Ariel, Prospero always use words of praise, affection and encouragement towards Ariel, like – ” my Ariel,chick”, “my brave spirit”, ” delicate Ariel “.

       When he is aboiut to liberate Ariel he says – ” Why, that’s my dainty Ariel. I shall miss thee.”

    Such a tender and sympathetic nature makes Prospero very lovable.

    •His Shrewdness on the Island 

       Prospero shows his shrewdness in dealing with people and spirits. He functions as a god on the island, manipulating everyone within his reach. He has become more vigilant now than earlier when he was the Duke of Milan. He now takes care to protect himself against the possibility of being a victim. He has learnt to deal with human nature. 

     He has come to know from Caliban that no amount of education and training can cure a person of his inborn wickedness.

      In Milan he had handed over his powers to his brother without thinking that evil could come of it. Then the evil followed. 

      Later on he tests Ferdinand’s sincerity before entrusting his daughter to him. By now Prospero has learnt the ways of the world through adversity.

      •  Prospero’s Supernatural Power or Use of Magic

        Prospero’s  magic is white magic in nature, not the black magic of evil men. Prospero does not use his supernatural powers for evil purposes.

        He caused the shipwreck to bring Ferdinand and Gonzalo as well as his enemies under his influence. He leads Ferdinand to Miranda.

      Prospero is a complex personality. Although he refuses to free Ariel and enslaves Caliban, Prospero is really a beneficent ruler, never intending to injure his enemies.

     He appears Callous and cruel especially in case of Ariel and Caliban. He is also autocrate in his treatment to Ferdinand, but he believes that Ferdinand and Miranda will value one another more if there are few obstacles to their courtship. 

     He foils the plot of the traitors and later tells them that he was aware of it. Similarly, he frustrate the plot of Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo.

   He makes Antonio, Sebastian and Alonso repent for their sins. Finally he regains his Dukedom. 

      • His Spirit of Forgiveness

       Forgiving  nature is the most  noble quality of Prospero. Having unlimited power to punish  his enemies, he treats them with leniency. He believes that   “the rarer action is in virtue than in vengeance”.

     Instead of satisfying his instinct for revenge he is satisfied with remorse and repentance of his enemies.

     When Ariel describes the distracted condition of Alonso and the other sinners, Prospero softens towards them. In his last words of the play he speaks of mercy, prayer and forgiveness. 

        Indeed, the spirit of forgiveness is the most striking quality of Prospero. 



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