THE TEMPEST In The Tempest composed by William Shakespeare, a single character portrayed by a human actually symbolizes and represents a being greater than a mere human. Prospero, the magician and the protagonist in this play, appears explicitly as a conventional mortal, but one who does possess supernatural powers. Still, even with magic, we still read his character as being only human. Through certain events of benevolence, and acts of undeniable control, and Prosperos all around persona, we should interpret his being as that of a god-like figure. Prospero has a plan, and his plan does entail revenge. The quality of revenge is known to be a weakness of man.
It shows how spiteful the average human may be. Another weakness of man is to not only to seek equal revenge like eye for an eye and tooth for tooth, but also to return a punishment that exceeds the initial wrong. Prospero neither gives an adequate or equal return of revenge to his foes, nor does he go beyond his inflictions and vanquish his enemies, even though he is clearly capable. What Prospero does is exactly what a benevolent father might do to teach an important lesson to his children. What he does is redirects everyones voyage and casts them on his island. This is analogous to how he was evicted from his royal post as Duke of Milan and cast onto the island.
Then he creates in his enemy's feelings of grief, despair, and longing. Firstly by the terrible sea storm that each had to survive. For Alonso specifically he designs a tragic death of Ferdinand that the king readily believes but is known to be untrue to the reader. For Antonio, Sebastian, and the king, an elaborate feast to cure there famine is vanished as quickly as it appears. This creates the same type of emotions that Prospero endured, but there is a difference in degree. The magnitude of the events Prospero devised in order to infect his foes with negativity do not compare with what he wen through.
The severity of his misery was far greater. Also, the duration of pain felt by Prospero greatly exceeded the few days his enemies encountered pain. What can be inferred from this is that Prospero only wanted to show his enemies a taste of the same suffering they had caused him. He does this not merely to inflict pain, but only to invoke real penitence in his enemies so they can be truly sorry. This is a true act of grace that is only achieved by a being with superior morals than a mortal. Pure benevolence shines through Prospero as he says to Antonio, For you, most wicked sir, whom to call brother would even infect my mouth, I do forgive thy rankest fault, - all of them; (V, I, 130) God is thought to have the ultimate say so.
He controls what happens. But as everyone knows, in Shakespearian times and our own, certain things happen that apparently seem to be out of Gods control. Deaths, famine, and disease certainly qualify. But what we dont know is if this are out of Gods control, or within and we just dont understand them. Prospero is exactly like this.
On his enchanted island, he reigns. He controls. He is the organizer that puts ordinary men and kings alike under his spell and command. But, whether it be consequences out of his control or we cant comprehend them, events occur which do not seem to be directed or wished by Prospero. Firstly, a mutiny is born that has a plan to take his life. He does easily thwart this small threat, but it is clear he did not create it.
It appears out of his control. Secondly, it does not fit with Prosperos liking for Gonzalo that he would put him through the similar tortures that he had planned for his enemies. Good Gonzalo had to endure the shipwreck and swim to shore. He to mourned the loss of Ferdinand, yet he never in the least harmed Prospero. So it appears this was an unintended yet unfair consequence of Prosperos master plan. Whether we know if it was purposeful and advanced his wishes, it is definite that Prospero apologizes and commends Gonzalo profusely in the end.
So although the mighty magician has powerful authority, there seems to be a tiny gap in either his ultimate control or our understanding of his full intentions. Both cases are similar attributes to what we would call god. Therefore, Prospero could be considered a human god. Prosperos all around character provides further evidence that he looks and talks like a man, but should be treated as a god. His temperament is slightly moody, but he acts always to make right.
He only verbally lashes and reprimands Ferdinand to strengthen his relationship with Miranda in the end. He only bequeaths tolerable pain to his foes just so they can be aware enough to repent. To Ariel he sets free and to Caliban he gives back the island. He uses his magic only when he is wronged and cast onto an island, and only to restore the right order of things. And in the end he does this exceedingly. Not only will he have his post as Duke of Milan returned, but his plan will effectively continue his lineage for many generations.
His grandson will eventually be king of Naples. So he did use people to construct and operate his elaborate orchestra, but everyone was better off in the end. His enemies were given a chance to learn a lesson, his servants were freed, his daughter became royalty, and his friend, Gonzalo, was blessed with his presence. Prospero acts as to bring about the greater good.
Though trials and tribulations must be dealt with by all, including himself, like a supreme being he makes sure good is restored in the end. In The Tempest, all characters are men. Some are servants, some are royalty, and one is a magician. But all are understood to be mortal.
But Prospero, through his words and deeds should be interpreted as a being with a stronger soul and higher consciousness. Although he was born a human and remains that way, we can comprehend him as a supreme being. This is an interpretation I believe to be correct, and if it is, one thing is for sure. The dynamics of the play are changed. Because Prospero is treated like a god rather than a human, the same scenes and lines have new implications that will have to be deciphered by the individual reader.