The Tempest : Act 1 Scene 2 , The Story of Prospero

 The Tempest:  by Shakespeare

 The Story of Prospero:

Question : What happened to Prospero, the Duke of Milan, several years ago ? When does Prospero tell his story to his daughter and why?

 Answer:  Miranda has seen the terrible storm and a shipwreck off the coast of the island. Her heart is deeply moved. She expresses to her father her anxiety for the fate of the ‘poor sole’ in the ship. Then Prospero tells her the truth that he was the person who caused the storm through his magical power. Then Prospero  assures her that no harm has been done and all that he has done is in her interest. Judging it to be the right time for Miranda to know her past, he narrates the story of how they came on the island. 

      Prospero tells that, twelve years ago, he was the Duke of Milan. He was more interested in studying philosophy and magic. He devoted all his time to study the books of magic and other liberal arts. He had no time to look after the state affairs. Finding it difficult to manage the affairs of state, he entrusted the governance of the state to his beloved brother  Antonio.

      Prospero reassumes his former dignity, recalling with pridethe distinction of his kingdom of Milan  “Through all the signories  it was the first” and his own personal scholarship  “for the liberal arts / Without parallel !”

     Pride is replaced with anger when he remembered his betrayal by the man whom he had given, his love, trust and responsibility, Antonio, his brother and Miranda’s  “false uncle”.

     Prospero never thought his own brother  would deceive that him. However Antonio became ambitious with time, he enhanced his authority and power. He replaced msome of the existing officers by his own trusted men.

      Soon he became so powerful that he dreamt of becoming the Duke of Milan himself. He began to think that Prospero had become totally unfit to wield any political authority. 

    So in order to usurp his dukedom, he made a secret pact with Alonso, the  King of Naples. According to which, Alonso would support Antonio in his attempt to expel Prospero from his dukedom and in return, Antonio would pay him an annual tribute of money. In this way Antonio subordinated himself to Alonso’s authority.

     As a result of this, an army of treacherous men was assembled and one midnight, Antonio opened the gates of the city of Milan and in death – like silence of midnight, his agent who had been directed to execute Antonio’s purpose, drove  Prospero out of Milan quite hurriedly.

      Antonio cast Prospero with adrift with baby Miranda in a rotten and dilapidated boat. The boat was seemed to be the decayed corpse of a boat, having no equipment at all, with no ropes, no sail and no mast.  It was bound to sink. He hoped that the strong waves would soon perish them. But his hope was not fulfilled as  Gonzalo, a kind – hearted and noble courtier of Naples, placed food, fresh water, clothes and important books on magic and philosophy in the boat.

    Somehow they survived the fury of the sea waves and touched the shore of this uninhabited island. Here, Prospero, brought her up. They began to live in this island all alone for all these years.

    Prospero tells Miranda that fortunately the opportunity mhas come to teach his enemies a lesson. He does not disclose to Miranda the whole of his plan. So he makes Miranda asleep by magic to pursue his plan to punish his enemies – Alonso, Antonio and Sebastian in particular.

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