Prospero is the central character in the play The Tempest. Indeed, he dominates the play from the beginning to the end. The entire action of the play, barring some of the deeds of Antonio, Sebastian, Alonso, Gonzalo, Caliban, Stephano, and Trinculo, is manipulated by Prospero.
Prospero is not an ordinary human being. Indeed, he is an exceptional man as he possesses supernatural powers. Hence, Prospero may resemble a demi-god. He is a magician who can control even the forces of nature.
Prospero has achieved these powers utilizing his continuous study of books dealing with magic and sorcery. He also practiced prolonged meditation and mental concentration and the development of his willpower.
Prospero’s Love And Affection for His Daughter Miranda
Prospero’s love for her daughter Miranda is perhaps the most striking aspect of his character, apart from exercising his supernatural powers. We see him as a loving father in the very beginning when he gives her an account of his past life.
Prospero relates his daughter to the injustices he had suffered because of his brother Antonio, who had been helped in his evil resolutions by king Alonso. Prospero always uses terms of affection and love for Miranda. He calls her a beloved darling dear heart, a rich gift, and in “Third of his own life.”
Throughout the play, Prospero’s whole treatment of Miranda shows Prospero’s essentially gentle and affectionate nature, though he has a harsh and stern side of his nature.
Propero’s Harsh But Just Nature toward Caliban
Again, Prospero reveals his harsh and stern side while treating Caliban, albeit he is never unjustly harsh to anybody. Though Prospero is a soft-hearted man, he is not unduly passionate and not over-sympathetic.
Caliban has an inherently evil nature. He retains this evil nature despite the gentle and kind treatment he received from Prospero in the past. Thus, through the characterization of Caliban and using Prospero as his mouthpiece, Shakespeare gives us a moral that “Nurture can never stick.”
Shakespeare’s Supposedly Self-Portrayal in Prospero
According to some critics, the portrayal of Prospero in this play is a kind of self-portrayal by Shakespeare. Prospero guided and controlled the world of the enchanted island, something akin to Shakespeare himself. As Prospero can perform wonder with magic, so can Shakespeare’s great wonder by his artistic power.
Prospero’s enemies are drawn to the island of great magic by the hit of a ‘tempest’ produced by him with the help of Ariel. There he renders them harmless. Prospero wrecks and saves as he teaches through disaster entices and leads by music, getting them under his power, and finally forgives them.
The island is an imaginary island that symbolizes an ideal land washed by the purifying sea. A shipwreck around the island brings Ferdinand to the island, where true love has grown between him and Miranda.
Prospero’s Island As The Garden of Eden
The island is the Garden of Eden, with Prospero’s God-personality in a change to prevent Satan. Miranda is the symbol of mercy and purity, which will leave the island of Paradise to test her virtue in the wicked world.
This island reflects the Garden of Eden, which transforms a wicked into a good man. The wicked Antonio, Sebastian, and Alonso are corrected at their touch as Duke Junior in As You Like It when he comes to touch the Forest of Arden.
Many critics assume there are parallels between the characters of Prospero and Shakespeare himself as he is in his life.
According to this view, Prospero in this play represents Shakespeare’s maturity during the final period of his dramatic career.