Prospero's Abuse Of Power

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From the play’s inception, it is clear to the audience that Prospero rules the island and its subjects. Despite being a foreigner to the land, Prospero claims the island as his own and enslaves the lone inhabitant, Caliban, while also asserting his rule over the spirit, Ariel. Furthermore, Prospero’s daughter, Miranda, remains subservient to her father. Despite his seemingly malicious intentions, Shakespeare hesitates from going as far as making Prospero a tyrannical dictator. Instead, Shakespeare portrays Prospero as a benevolent, but cold, ruler who is not willing to kill anyone to accomplish his desires, and justifies his harsh treatment of Caliban by disclosing the details of the fallout between Prospero and Caliban. Through Prospero’s…show more content…
With the power that Prospero possessed, he could have easily killed anyone allowing him to reclaim his rightful throne with ease. However, Prospero doesn’t kill anyone, nor does he go as far to destroy the ship in which they arrived. Prospero uses his power just enough to reclaim his throne and get off the island, but does not abuse it as a tyrant would. When Miranda notices the storm that Prospero has created, she becomes anxious and approaches Prospero to ask him to stop. Prospero assures her that, “I have with such provision in mine art/ So safely ordered that there is no soul—/ No, not so much perdition as an hair, / Betid to any creature in the vessel” (1.2.28-31). While his intentions may be seemingly malicious, Prospero ensures that the entirety of the royal party on the ship is safe and unharmed. He seems unwilling to comprise his moral integrity even for something as important as his throne. Furthermore, his actions are justified since these same individuals unlawfully took his power from him in Milan. Also, Prospero’s reference to his magical power as an “art” is important as the word “art” usually has a positive connotation. Instead of seeing his magic as a weapon or tool, he views it as art that requires skill and careful precision to use. Unlike a weapon, art does not hurt anyone, and Prospero uses it as such.…show more content…
Both the men who overthrew Prospero and Caliban have committed crimes which have diminished their moral authority. Only Prospero, the victim, can claim any true power to rule since he has moral superiority. Not even Caliban who is native to the island can claim power over Prospero because, he does not diminish his moral authority by killing anyone and ensures that all of the other characters return home safely. Prospero never unjustly treats anyone poorly. Prospero simply has a vision that he works to have realized through the use magic. Prospero is careful to only use his power to accomplish that vision without excessively hurting people. Once he has accomplishes his goal, he realizes that, if he is not careful, such power could lead him down a path of darkness. Once he releases everyone from the island, he vows to never practice magic again, saying, “But this rough magic/I here abjure...I 'll break my staff,/ Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,/ And deeper than ever did plummet sound/ I 'll drown my book” (5.1.50-57). In this passage Prospero breaks his staff and buries his magic book to prevent the power from corrupting him. This passage is significant because it shows just how strong Prospero is morally. People who don’t possess the same moral integrity of Prospero would
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