Prospero- The Tempest

Key Quotes


  • "Everything I have done has been in care of thee"
  • "Thou art inclined to sleep"
  • "Stained with grief- that's beauty's canker"
  • "Visit my slave Caliban, who never yields us kind answer"
  • "Thou shall be pinched as thick as honeycombs"
  • "I had forgotten the foul conspiracy of the beast Caliban upon my life"
  • "We are such stuff as dreams are made on, our little lives rounded by sleep"
  • "All my charms have been o'erthrown, what strength I have's mine own, which is most faint"
  • "Gentle breath of yours my sails must fill"
  • "The great globe will dissolve...this insubstantial pageant faded"
  • "thy compensation" "I ratify this, my rich gift"
  • "My rough magic I here abjure"
  • "Poor worm, thou art infected, this visitation shows it"
  • "Weeds shall your marriage bed bestrew"
  • "If thou dost break her virgin knot before all sanctimonious ceremonies have taken place"
  • "to call you brother would infect my mouth...I do forgive thy rankest fault, and require my dukedom of thee"
  • "thou did'st seek to violate the honour of my daughter"
  • "Ariel, my delicate Ariel, I shall set thee free for this"
  • "I will rend an oak and peg thee in its knotty entrails"
  • "freckl'd whelp, hag born, not honoured with human shape"
  • "Prospero, lord of a full poor cell"
  • "every third thought shall be my grave"
  • "thy mother was a piece of virtue"
  • "what seest thou else in the dark and backward abysm of time"
  • "I neglected all worldy ends, dedicated to the bettering of my mind"
  • "with age he grows uglier, his mind cankers"
  • "he was the ivy and sucked my verdure out"
  • "I, thy schoolmaster, made thee profit more than princes"
  • "thou liest, malignant thing"
  • "act her earthy and abhorred commands"
  • "Poisonous slave, got by the devil himself"
  • "I'll break my staff, and deeper than did ever plummet sound, I'll drown my book"
  • "thine own acquisition, worthily purchased"
  • "I have given you a third of mine own life"
  • "thou, which art but air, hast a feeling of their affliction, and not myself"
  • "my charms crack not, my spirits obey and Time goes upright"
  • "I have bedimmed the noontide sun, the mutinous winds...set roaring war"
  • "This thing of darkness, I acknowledge mine"
  • "Let your indulgence set me free"
  • "I'll deliver all, and promise you calm seas"
  • "The rarer action is in virtue, than in vengeance"
  • Prospero is father to Miranda, lord of the island, former Duke of Milan and master to Ariel and Caliban.
  • The tale is centered on Prospero's thirst for revenge on his usurpers, his concern for Miranda's virginity and his treatment of his servants.
  • The end of the play yields the audience Prospero's return to humanity and rejection of magic- he realises that it has led him to forget the value and emotion of what it is to be human, and the value of forgiveness over punishment. His search for justice leads him to return to Milan and overcome his hatred.
  • Prospero is the manipulator and domination of each scene- either him or Ariel are the commanders of the narrative, driving the plot or overseeing the action. Therefore it can be said that none of the characters are under free will- it is an illusion (appearance vs reality). Social commentary on the hierarchy of Elizabethan societal structure and the treatment of the perceived lower classes by nobility.
  • Prospero uses water as his method of control and as definer of his omnipotence, conjures the Tempest. His constant allusion to his Godly power reinforces his utter control and dominance as well as being wholly blasphemous to an Elizabethan audience.
  • Associated themes: Justice, Revenge, Humanity, Magic, Appearance vs Reality, Control, Power, Illusion, Water.

A03 Critical Analysis

A04 Context

  • "The masque demostrates Prospero's paternal magnanimity, as well as an ability to defy the laws of time and nature"- JFvD
  • "What makes Caliban filth are the lessons in which Prospero has taught him he is filth"
  • "There are limits to his control- crucially, Antonio remains unregenerate, never asking for forgiveness"- JFvD
  • "A wise humanist, who curbs all egoistic desires and succeeds in guiding those around him to their destinies"- Smirnov
  • "His vengeful desire to punish demonstrates his enormous control, bordering on tyranny"- Riches
  • "A blasphemous play, about a man allowed to play God"- Peter Hall
  • "Magic is not compatible with maintaining power, but a retreat from it. In returning to Milan, Prospero must therefore renounce that power"- Lewis
  • "Caliban is symbolic of Prospero's repressed desires, his relationship with Miranda as an obsessive symbiosis"- JFvD
  • "The only potent will in the play is Prosepero's- as far from being founded on a conflict, the play does not even contain a debate"- Welsford
  • "In descending from omnipotence, Prospero raises himself to genuine humanity"-Riches
  • "The masque is the return to civilised order after the chaos of the antimasque"- Riches
  • "Prospero surrenders the pleasure of possessing Miranda to Ferdinand"- Sundelson
  • "The relationship between Prospero and Caliban descends into one of domination and rebellion, paralleled by English dealings with native Americans"- Lindley
  • "The water represents the spirit, and the tempest is the disarrangement of that spirit- it is Prospero's wrath, temper and desire for revenge"- Osborne
  • "Caliban, branded as the evil other, is acknowledged as part of Prospero's identity"- JFvD
  • Prospero has been associated with John Dee, a powerful man at court during the Elizabethan era, who practiced magic, and delved into the arts surrounding the ethereal and unexplained.
  • Some critics have also associated Prospero with Shakespeare himself, using The Tempest as Shakespeare's farewell to the stage. Therefore, Prospero's magic is a metaphor for the power of the pen and his questioning of the transient nature of life conveying Shakespeare's own existential questions about his work and the meaning of his plays. Prospero's relinquishment of magic can be seen as Shakespeare's retirement from the world of playwrights.
  • Prospero is Caliban and Ariel's master- he represents a coloniser of the 17th century, a time of exploration and claiming new lands. Europeans often treated natives of the lands they discovered with violence, manipulation (with alcohol, as shown by Stephano) or threat (Prospero), and viewed them as subhuman, uncivilised animals. Caliban is the rebellious native, taken into slavery while Ariel is the complicit native, taken into servitude and treated with more dignity and respect due to his obedience. This was a trait of colonisation- the compliant were rewarded for their behaviour and used to punish those who were not.
  • Prospero also embodies the typical 17th century father- the owner of his daughter until marriage and guardian of her chastity and viriginity- "break her virgin knot". His lexis constantly portrays his ownership of Miranda and is the domination and manipulator of her entire life- he oversees each scene with her in it "poor worm, thou art infected", cuts her off when she speaks with interjections "thou canst not", accuses her of stereotypical traits "thou dost not attend me" and uses derogatory language when addressing her- "wench". Not only this, he has taught her women's perceived worth- being a "good womb" to bear sons to a husband and the value of being scene and not heard- "I prattle too wildly, I forget my father's precepts".




this is really helpful thank you! But what does JFvD stand for? Thank you