How Does Shakespeare Use Language to Create Prospero’s character in Act 1 Scene 2?
The Tempest is one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays. It was written in 1610 and it is also his last play. One of the main characters in the ‘Tempest’ is Prospero, an old wizard. The play opens with a mighty Tempest strikes the ship when Alonso the King of Naples, Ferdinand the prince of Naples, Sebastian Alonso’s brother and the current duke of Milan, Prospero’s brother Antonio along with Trinculo who is a jester and Stephano a drunk butler return to Milan from the wedding of Claribel Alonso’s daughter in Tunis. The passengers on board began to fear for their lives. Act 1 Scene 2 opens when Prospero and his daughter Miranda on the shore of their island after witnessing the shipwreck. Miranda worries about the people on board the ship. Prospero consoles her and tells her that no one was harmed. He also decides that it time for Miranda to learn about their past. His begins his tale but doesn’t finish it. To overthrow Prospero, his brother Antonio made a truce with the King of Naples Alonso, Prospero’s rival. Together with the help of Sebastian, Alonso’s brother they plotted to kidnap Prospero and his daughter Miranda and set them adrift on a raft for them to die. Fortunately they survived because Gonzalo the kind adviser of King Alonso loaded their raft with supplies and Prospero’s books of magic, the sources of his power. This tale is never finished because Prospero explains to Miranda that good luck has brought all his enemies to the island and puts her into a deep slumber. After he uses his charms on Miranda, he calls his spirit, Ariel. Their conversation shows that Prospero and Ariel are responsible for the frightful storm. This conversation also tells us that Prospero is concerned about the people on board the ship and Ariel has scattered them across the isle. When I first heard the tale of Prospero’s tragic past, I felt quite sorry for him. But the way Shakespeare illustrates Prospero’s character is quite different from the way I expected him to be. I thought of him as kind, understanding but the way he is revealed in this scene shows that he is mean and cruel. There is a very little trace of him being nice. He is very manipulative and demanding in this scene. He is also exceptionally dependent upon his two main subjects- Ariel and Caliban- for his own selfish desires which makes him very cunning. Shakespeare creates this side of Prospero with a variety of language techniques. Prospero is extremely manipulative in Act 1 Scene 2 and I think it is the most used character trait in his conversation with Ariel. When Ariel enters in the scene she is boasting about her work in the ship and quite proud of what she did. Here Prospero flatters her with words like ‘my brave spirit.’ The word ‘spirit’ suggests that she is like a precious gift or an angel from heaven. There can be bad spirits but the word ‘brave’ emphasises that Ariel is more of an angel than a demon. But when you look at the word ‘my’ it is as if Prospero owns Ariel and can control her like she is his property; a possession and his asks questions regarding the storm and the passengers: ‘Who was so firm, so constant, that this coil/ Would not infect his reason?’ and ‘But are they, Ariel, safe?’ In my opinion it is as if he praises her only to get what her to do his work. However, when Ariel ‘demand’ for her ‘liberty’ Prospero’s behaviour towards her changes, he insults her with terms like ‘malignant thing’ and ‘moody’ which is shows that Prospero turns aggressive and rude when people demand something of him. The word ‘moody’ implies to people who have wild mood swings but when Ariel replies, she says ‘served/Without or grudge or grumblings,’ and to this statement Prospero does not object. This suggests that Ariel isn’t ‘moody’ like Prospero claims she is. Prospero is made to be more manipulative by the use of...
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