Shakespeare's Prospero: Character Analysis, Overview

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shamekia Thomas

Shamekia has taught English at the secondary level and has her doctoral degree in clinical psychology.

Prospero is the protagonist in William Shakespeare's play ''The Tempest.'' Prospero uses his power and love of magic to coerce others into behaving in ways he wants them to behave. Learn more about Prospero's character in this lesson.

Introducing Prospero

Prospero is the protagonist, the main character in the story, in William Shakespeare's play The Tempest. At times, Prospero is a sympathetic character who is mistreated by his brother; at other times, he is an unsympathetic character because he uses magic to control other people. Prospero insists that others listen to him even when they do not want to. Throughout the course of the play, Prospero's character grows, and he goes from being an unsympathetic character to a much more sympathetic and likable character with redeeming characteristics.

The Tempest is considered to be the final play written by William Shakespeare. Some people believe the character Prospero represents Shakespeare because he manipulates the action of the story just as a writer does. In the final act of The Tempest, Prospero asks for applause, the way the writer of a play would ask for appreciation for his work.

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  • 0:00 Introducing Prospero
  • 0:52 Character Analysis
  • 3:48 Lesson Summary
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Character Analysis

Prospero is skilled magically and uses magic to create storms, provide entertainment, manipulate others, and exercise power and control over the lives of others. Prospero enjoys knowledge and learning, particularly the learning of spells. He becomes so entranced by learning magic that he does not notice his brother is trying to take his title and kill him.

Prospero is also controlling to those around him. He has two servants, Ariel and Caliban. In the beginning of the play, he gets the help of Ariel, his magical agent and captive servant, to conjure tempest, a violent and windy storm, to cause the ship of the King of Naples to crash and land on the deserted island he lives on, which is the setting for the story. Ariel ensures that everyone survives the tempest but separates groups of men throughout the island so that they are not all together. Ariel works for Prospero in exchange for his freedom. Caliban is the son of the dead witch who imprisoned Ariel before Prospero rescued him. Caliban does not like Prospero and curses him.

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