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Prospero is the protagonist in William Shakespeare’s play ”The Tempest.” Prospero uses his power and love of magic to coerce others into behaving in ways he wants them to behave. Learn more about Prospero’s character in this lesson.

Introducing Prospero

Prospero is the protagonist, the main character in the story, in William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest. At times, Prospero is a sympathetic character who is mistreated by his brother; at other times, he is an unsympathetic character because he uses magic to control other people. Prospero insists that others listen to him even when they do not want to. Throughout the course of the play, Prospero’s character grows, and he goes from being an unsympathetic character to a much more sympathetic and likable character with redeeming characteristics.

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The Tempest is considered to be the final play written by William Shakespeare. Some people believe the character Prospero represents Shakespeare because he manipulates the action of the story just as a writer does. In the final act of The Tempest, Prospero asks for applause, the way the writer of a play would ask for appreciation for his work.

Character Analysis

Prospero is skilled magically and uses magic to create storms, provide entertainment, manipulate others, and exercise power and control over the lives of others. Prospero enjoys knowledge and learning, particularly the learning of spells.

He becomes so entranced by learning magic that he does not notice his brother is trying to take his title and kill him.Prospero is also controlling to those around him. He has two servants, Ariel and Caliban. In the beginning of the play, he gets the help of Ariel, his magical agent and captive servant, to conjure tempest, a violent and windy storm, to cause the ship of the King of Naples to crash and land on the deserted island he lives on, which is the setting for the story. Ariel ensures that everyone survives the tempest but separates groups of men throughout the island so that they are not all together. Ariel works for Prospero in exchange for his freedom. Caliban is the son of the dead witch who imprisoned Ariel before Prospero rescued him.

Caliban does not like Prospero and curses him.When punishing others, Prospero is harsh and vindictive. He punishes Caliban by calling on spirits to pinch him when he curses Prospero. He also threatens to punish Ariel by tormenting him and sending him back to prison if he did not do as he was told. Prospero, for selfish motives, makes Ariel into a sea nymph who is invisible to everyone but Prospero to help him manipulate others. Ariel tempts the shipwrecked men to kill Alonso (the King of Naples, who is also shipwrecked on the island) to become king, and they almost do until one of them wakes up.

Prospero plans for his daughter, Miranda, to marry Ferdinand, Alonso’s son, and when they meet after the shipwreck, they immediately fall in love with each other, but Prospero separates them on the island. Prospero is harsh towards Ferdinand and punishes him for his father’s past behavior; he helps him find his daughter and fall in love with her, but then takes her from him.By the end of the play, Prospero becomes a more likable character after he realizes he brought many of his problems upon himself and realizes forgiveness is the right thing to do. He expresses his love for Miranda and forgives his enemies.

Prospero is nice to Ferdinand and welcomes him into his family to marry his daughter. Prospero’s character grows when he finds the courage to confront the shipwrecked men, including Alonso, but forgives them for their behavior against him and their plot to kill him. When the men return to Italy, Prospero once again receives his title as Duke of Milan.

In the beginning of the play, Prospero is a vindictive man who uses his power and magic to make others regret their past treatment of him. As he grows and develops as a person, he forgives the wrongs done to him and finally lets go of the past. In the end, Prospero wants to make his daughter happy and does so with the magic that consumed his life for many years.

Lesson Summary

The Tempest is one of William Shakespeare’s last plays. It tells the story of the life and exile of Prospero, the former Duke of Milan.

Prospero loses his title of Duke at the hands of his brother and the King of Naples, Alonso, because of his love and attention to magic instead of his attention to his duties as Duke. When he does not die after being sent away in exile, he survives on an island with his daughter, practices magic and plots revenge against his enemies. Once he tricks his enemies, he forgives them, regains his title as Duke, and returns to Milan. Many people believe Prospero’s character is representative of Shakespeare and his life as a writer.


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