Prospero: The True Villain of The Tempest
Renowned English philosopher John Locke once said, “An excellent man, like precious metal, is in every way invariable; A villain, like the beams of a balance, is always varying, upwards and downwards” (Locke). This villainous attribute can be seen in Prospero, the main protagonist in the play “The Tempest” by William Shakespeare. Throughout the play, Prospero is shown to have some positive aspects; however, they are far outweighed by his villainy which can be perceived through his magic and his aggressive ambition, as well as the manner in which he treats his close friends and the others on the island.
Throughout “The Tempest”, Prospero, like most villains, is controlled by power. Prospero seems to be satisfied only by having control of everyone on the island, from his loved ones to others who are no longer such. In the beginning of the play, Prospero demonstrates his controlling nature by manipulating stories of the past to control the present with Ariel and his daughter Miranda. Since Miranda was banished to the island along with Prospero at the age of three and Ariel has a memory limited to one month, Miranda and Ariel do not have any recollections of past events and rely solely on Prospero for information. This gives Prospero an opportunity to fill their heads with one sided information. An example of this can be seen when Ariel asks for his freedom and Prospero lashes out angrily. He reminds Ariel about how many times he has to tell him the story of how he saved him: “I must once in a month recount what thou hast been, which thou forget’st” (Shakespeare 1.2.264-266). He then uses the story to make Ariel feel remorse about his request and makes him perform more tasks for him.
Aside from his close friends, Prospero uses his powers and controlling nature to torment the others on the island. This can be seen with Prospero's relationship with Caliban. Caliban was once loved by Prospero until he tried to...