Prospero: a Historical Parallel of Power

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Many critics have alluded to the Tempest as a play within a play: Prospero’s’ own play in respect to the entirety of the Tempest itself. If this is indeed the case, it’s essential to understand the foundation of Shakespeare’s implications. In other words, what did he want to teach readers from this dualistic approach? Scholar Peter Hulme believes that it was a historical reference to the process of European colonization. Furthermore, Prospero’s usurpation leads to an obsession for the cycle of repetition. Thus he becomes a metaphor for the ‘European colonizer’ where the Caliban plays the Amerindian ‘colonized’. The idea of life as a continuous cycle drives Prospero’s motives to regain power. As a reader it seems fair to justify his intentions. In fact it would be odd for someone who lost power to not want it back. However, Prospero goes about getting his power back by means of revenge. This brings us to one of Peter Hulmes central topics of discussion. Hulme refers to Prospero’s play in specific, noting that it is a project. Directly speaking, to complete this project Prospero’s main objective requires, “A presentation that maneuvers Alonso physically and psychologically so that his son’s miraculous return from the dead will be so bound up with Ferdinand’s love for Miranda that Alonso will be in no position to oppose the Union” (Hulme 233). Essentially, Prospero must manipulate Alonso to the point where he will allow Ferdinand and Miranda to get married. Furthermore, reclaiming his place as Duke through marriage. The masque then becomes Prospero’s end product. Naturally most people would go about finding a final product in the most efficient way. Why then does Prospero not simply bring Alonso and Ferdinand to the Island? Power is one reason. If the masque itself symbolizes Prospero’s play as a product then as Hulme notes, “Only Prospero, is in the

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