PROSPER-o, Prosper-NO?

After reading The Tempest, I found myself intrigued by the characters: Prospero and Ariel. More specifically, their relationship and how Ariel relates to Prospero’s authority and power within the story.

Ariel. Personally, he is my favorite character in the play (but we won’t be getting into any details on that). It is interesting to note how he is essentially Prospero’s “Right-Hand Man”, despite his role as a slave for the time being. While Prospero is busy formulating ideal plans, such as to ensure Miranda and Ferdinand fall in love, it is Ariel who is trused to carry these out until they succeed. Of course, it is sensible that it be Ariel who is responsible for completing a task of this measure. He is afterall, to remain in Prospero’s grasp until he has satisfied his master. However, what tickles my curiosity is in the instance that he is not available at Prospero’s expense.

How would The Tempest play out then? I mean, for Prospro,  there is no logic in relying on Caliban to fulfill such significant duty. Especially those which involve his daughter and the attempt to take back his rightful place on the throne. Would Prospero still be able to succeed in his plans? I highly doubt it, even if he uses “magic” himself. The fact that he chose to use Ariel, a spirit with mystical powers of his own, shows how he, himself lacks the ability to pursue his own inquiries without the aid of another. Knowing this, Prospero creates his own authority in which he has to constantly reassure his power over others. The quotes, “Dost thou forget/ From what a torment I did free thee?” (P.114, l.250) and “Thou liest, maligant thing!” (P.115, l.256) indicate how he is afraid that if Ariel no longer serves him, he will not be able to successfully take back his throne. Additionally, as a response to Ariel’s question of when he will be freed, Prospero “reminds” him of the occasion when he saved him and subliminally demands for longer service. In other and more simpler terms, he “black-mailed” him. Was it really necessary to do so? If so, what does this say about Prospero’s self-proclaimed authority? Does he truly believe in his “power”?




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