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The Tempest

Though its publishers preface, it is revealed that the play The Tempest is written by William Shakespeare. The play is set in a storm where Prospero together with Miranda his daughter are watching a sinking ship from a distance (Shakespeare 1). According to Prospero’s explanation, the storm is his own creation and he had done that to revenge his enemies who were on board. Throughout the story, Prospero appears as the master of all. For instance, he maintained to brother that he is the Milan’s rightful Duke. Additionally, having learnt to use the magic in the island, he was able to control all those who were on the Island. In examining the play The Tempest, this write up proposes Prospero as master of Ariel and Caliban in the play and goes ahead to ascertain this.

Prospero has been portrayed throughout the play as the most enigmatic protagonists compared to other characters. It is this absolute power that he has over the rest of the characters together with his overwrought which has made others to fear him. Prospero has not only acted as a master to Ariel and Caliban in the play but he has also been portrayed as a dictator in his interaction with other characters.

Prospero is determined to pursue knowledge. This determination caused him troubles because he had to stop attending to the matters pertaining to everyday’s life irrespective of him being a duke. This provided his brother an opportunity to rise above him. However, his superiority could not be shortchanged because apart from his accumulated possessions, Prospero had acquired magical knowledge (Shakespeare 6). These factors gave him extreme power making him master who never considered sympathizing with the people whom he perceived as his enemies.

He therefore excises his powers on Caliban by subjecting him to petty punishments through subjecting him to the spirits which pinches him as he pronounces curses over him (51). Equally, Prospero acts autocratically whenever he is with Ariel. This becomes very much evidenced at the time when Ariel goes to his master to remind him concerning the promises he had made to have him relieved early from his work especially whenever he willingly performs them. At this point, Prospero becomes with him threatening of returning him into his initial state to let him suffer torments in prison. It is clear from the play that such actions were not only directed to the two. Prospero equally treated Ferdinand harshly by having him imprisoned and enslaved after directing him to his daughter (Shakespeare 59).

Another aspect of Prospero’s mastership is seen in his domination in developing the plot of the play. He is used to generate the play’s plot almost on his own. The plot’s happy ending has entirely resulted from his schemes, manipulations, and spells. He helps build the story from his own materials which makes the story bring out the world in line with his own ideal concepts of justice.

However, this domineering and unsympathetic behavior by Prospero toward other characters tends to change towards the end of the play. During his final speech to his audience, Prospero proves to be more likable and sympathetic especially when he declares that he has forgiven all those who had wronged him (Shakespeare 83).

In the case of the relationship between Prospero and Caliban, the domineering nature of Prospero is demonstrated as he is giving his very first speech to people. In this speech, he insists that Prospero who now act as the real owner of the Island had stolen it from him. He struggles to prove that Prospero’s situation and that one in which he is in are similar. His argument was that, Prospero had equally been replaced by his brother as a duke. Caliban is therefore portrayed as having lust for power over the Island. However, he does not manage to overthrow Prospero who is instead overthrown by Antonio (Shakespeare’s 81).

Both Ariel and Caliban serve as Prospero’s servants. In specific, Ariel acts as Prospero’s “an airy spirit,” while Caliban acts as “that of the earth” 74. Because of the many speeches he is making against Prospero, Caliban is turned into things like “springs and pits” (41). Ariel on the other hand chooses to serve Prospero faithfully and is thus able to continuously enjoy his dignity as well as full freedom. Caliban on the other hand has to strive to achieve his dignity because of his refusal to cooperate with Prospero and bow to him (Shakespeare 42).

Caliban’s feeling of inferiority towards Prospero is demonstrated when he gives his first speech to him in what appears as regret for having introduced Prospero to the Island during Prospero’s first arrival. Even during his very last rebellious acts, Caliban fails as he is again subdued by Prospero. This even proved his vulnerability to Prospero as he appears very dirty and ready to clean the cell belonging to Prospero in readiness for a dinner (Shakespeare’s 85).


In conclusion, the fact that Caliban occupied the island long before Prospero but is later replaced by him qualifies his claim that Prospero’s acts amounts to slavery. Moreover, Caliban’s appearance in dirty clothing, his services as a servant, and his being a native portrays him together with Arial as true symbols of the native people who have been put under the domination of the colonial masters from the European countries. On the other hand the domineering nature of Prospero depicts him as a true representation of the European masters who are always in power. It is therefore true that Prospero is a master figure to both Ariel and Caliban in the play. 

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