The Power Of Power In Shakespeare's The Tempest

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S.T Coleridge refers to Shakespeare’s swan song, The Tempest, as a play “for all ages,” and this quote rings true in the light of the fascinating study of the presentation of Prospero, the play’s protagonist. Prospero’s complexity stands out against the binary archetypes of Jacobean drama, and this great wizard not only teaches the audience about accepting humanity, but embracing it. He reveals a reflection of the Bard himself, as well as that of our very being. To quote Gooder, Prospero “could give God a good fight.” The audience instantly gets a sense of the extent of Prospero’s power through the tempest that he casts in Act 1 Scene 1. Ferdinand’s cry of “Hell is empty and all the devils are here” clearly illustrates the psychological destruction that Propsero’s art can carry. His constant threats towards Caliban demonstrate the capacity of his magic, such as the infliction of “side-stiches that shall pen thy breath up”, and this supports Kermode’s view on Prospero as an exerciser of the “supernatural powers of the holy adept.” However, as G. Wilson Knight rightfully states, The Tempest “is itself a metaphor.” Prospero’s control over the characters both on and offstage, his management of the island’s natural phenomena and the orchestrated structure of the play cause many critics to view him as a self-portrait of the playwright. The Tempest is arguably Shakespeare’s last play, and the symbolic breaking of Prospero’s staff could represent Shakespeare’s departure from his
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