The Tempest Analysis Essay

Topics: Writer

In William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, one of the most intriguing characters that Shakespeare creates is that of Prospero. Prospero’s character is significant as he adds a mysterious aspect to The Tempest because Prospero, himself, is also very hidden and secretive. The passage from Act 1, Scene 2, lines 271 to 286 provides the reader with an example of how Prospero can be very manipulative and deceitful. One of the first assumptions that the reader can make is that it is throughout this particular speech that Prospero is employing his manipulative skills in order to convince Ariel that it is only because of Prospero’s powers that Ariel is now free from being trapped within the “cloven pine, within which rift/ Imprisoned [Ariel] didst painfully remain.

” (1:2:279-280) Through Prospero’s speech, it becomes evident that Prospero is attempting to emphasize the emptiness and torturous isolation that Ariel had to endure and might have continued to endure was it not for the help of Prospero.

Essay Example on The Tempest Analysis

It is interesting to point out, however, that Prospero seems to over-emphasize the issue which is obviously suggested through his language. For example, Prospero exclaims to Ariel such phrases as “left thee there, where thou didst vent thy groans,”(1:2:282) “Imprisoned thou didst painfully remain/ A dozen years; within which space she died,” (1:2:280-281) and “…Then was this island- / Save for the son that she did litter here.” (1:2:283-284) Through particular words such as “left”, “groans”, “space”, the reader sees how Prospero uses his art of persuasion in order to make Ariel believe that the life that he now possesses is of much more value than the empty, painful and isolated life that he once lived.

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Although it is evident that Prospero attempts to portray himself as a noble, good-natured man, this point may be argued. In fact, Prospero calls Ariel “my slave” (1:2:272) which leaves the reader to question why Prospero simply did not grant Ariel his freedom initially if he was so kind and noble. In comparison, the relationship between Prospero and Ariel can be seen as symbolic of the relationship that existed between the European settlers and the original inhabitants of the land of which they exploited. In both cases, Prospero and the European settlers use the excuse that they are actually helping the inhabitants as justification for their acts.

In addition to the unveiling of Prospero’s manipulative character, it also becomes evident that Prospero places a great value on honor. Interestingly, however, Prospero associates honor with physical appearance. This is clearly shown when Prospero calls Caliban “[a] freckled whelp, hag-born – not honored with/ A human shape.” (1:2:285-286) In effect, Prospero is illustrated as being a superficial man who looks down upon those who do not fit the standards created by society.

Thus, the main significance of the passage is that it allows the reader to truly understand Prospero’s two-dimensional character. Although it is portrayed that he is a good man for helping Ariel, it is also seen that he uses that compassionate act in order to manipulate Ariel in being his slave. In addition, the reader acknowledges that honor is of importance to Prospero, yet he associates honor with superficial ideals. In effect, the false impression that Prospero attempts to portray becomes just one of the many illusions that exist on Prospero’s island.

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The Tempest Analysis Essay. (2019, Nov 27). Retrieved from

The Tempest Analysis Essay
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