An essay about transformation by theatre in Shakespeare's "The Tempest". Transformation of Prospero, of the audience and of Shakespeare himself

Essay by donfeliceUniversity, Bachelor's July 2004

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1. The Transformation of Prospero

In Shakespeare's "The Tempest" the figure of Prospero, the former Duke of Milan, forms the key element of all actions and developments throughout the play. He incorporates absolute power over the other characters and generates the plot of the play almost uninfluenced. For an in-depth understanding of the play it is therefore indispensable to analyse whether or not he undertakes a transformation in character or behaviour and hence interrupts a straight development of the plot.

Taking into consideration his first and last scene of appearance the audience might get the impression of a major change in character. In the beginning he is presented as an extremely powerful magician, driven by a feeling of revenge. " Hast thou, spirit, performed to point the tempest that I bade thee? - To every article." (1.2.194-196) In the last scene he lays off all his supernatural powers and wants to return to being the Duke of Milan, the position he held before having been deported to the island.

" work mine end upon their senses that this airy charm is for, I'll break my staff, ...and deeper than did ever plummet sound I'll drown my book." (5.1.553-57)

But on a deeper analysis of the play one realises that he makes much more the impression of a dramatist, building the story successively towards a happy ending, where he can let all powers behind because his cause is finished and at the same time just. Right at the beginning of his first appearance he predicts that nobody will be harmed and therefore expresses his aim to come to a peaceful understanding. " The direful spectacle of the wreck,...I safely ordered that there is no soul - no, not so much perdition as an hair betid to any...