Prospero brought Miranda up on the island for twelve years; he explains this to her and the story of how his brother Antonio had plotted against him with the king of Naples to fully usurp his obligations as duke of Milan, “o’er- prized all popular rate, in my false brother Awkward and evil nature: and my trust, like a good patient, did beget of him” This causes Miranda to worship Prospero for what he has done, raising her on his own for the past twelve years. “Your tale, sir, would cure deafness”,
Prospero already gains power over her when he shows her how he has nurtured and cared for her, making her feel like she owes him for what he has done. “Alack, what trouble was I then for you! ” He uses his magic powers to soothe his daughter, casting a spell to send her to sleep after he has told her everything he thought was necessary, this shows his good intentions. Prospero also plays a big part in bringing Ferdinand and Miranda together when he arranges for them to meet after the shipwreck. Ariel leads Ferdinand into Prospero’s ‘cell’ and Prospero claims, “It goes on, I see, as my soul prompts it. ”
He makes Miranda think Ferdinand is ‘A thing divine’ as she has never seen anyone else. He has total control over the situation. He also shows a more cruel side to his personality by testing Ferdinand, pulling him aside and telling him that, ‘The Duke of Milan and his braver daughter could control thee if now ’twere fit to do’t. ‘ Prospero tests him when he decides that Ferdinand must earn Miranda’s love. Prospero also treats Ferdinand badly as Ferdinand’s father is King of Naples and plotted against Prospero, “Speak you not for him: he’s a traitor” Prospero tortures Ferdinand in order for him to gain Miranda’s sympathy, and to also test Ferdinand’s character, as if he didn’t like Miranda that much, he would go away when Prospero tells him this.
When Ferdinand and Miranda are planning to get married, Prospero talks to Ferdinand about his daughter as if they are carrying out a business deal, an example of this is when Prospero describes Miranda as a rich gift to Ferdinand when he is about to give his daughter over. “I ratify this my rich gift”…
“and thine own acquisition worthily purchased worthily purchased, take my daughter” But with this deal he attaches a threat to Ferdinand of the consequences of him taking Miranda’s virginity before marriage, “If thou dost break her virgin-knot before all sanctimonious ceremonies” Prospero continues to warn Ferdinand of the consequences that would follow this, “The union of your bed with weeds so loathly that you shall hate it both. ” Ferdinand listens to powerful Prospero and appeases him by promising not to break his rules, “shall never melt mine honour into lust”.
Prospero uses his power as an antidote to his insecurity of Ferdinand taking his daughter away from him, who he has been very close to for the last twelve years. Abusing his power he continues to threaten Ferdinand despite his initial acceptance to Prospero’s deal, “Do not give dalliance too much the rein” Here he warns him again after Ferdinand had already acknowledged his first warning. This shows Prospero abusing his power merely because he can.
As a mark of power, Prospero shows off his magical powers in front of Miranda and Ferdinand for no real reason or need to, showing them a masque.”some vanity of mine art” This is an example of Prospero abusing his magic as there was not real object behind doing this. Prospero and Ariel have a close relationship in the play as they both need each other: Ariel needs Prospero because he had the power to free him and keeps him as a servant and Prospero needs Ariel to carry out his plans. Prospero saved Ariel from imprisonment in a tree when he came onto the island with Miranda twelve years ago, and reminds him of this when he begs for freedom, warning his servant that he will ‘rend an oak and peg thee in his knotty entrails’, blackmailing Ariel.
But he still gives Ariel the chance of freedom, “Do so; and after two days I shall discharge thee. ” After Ariel carries out numerous actions commanded by Prospero throughout the play Prospero feels his servant Ariel has served him well and has done his duties. He notifies him that his freedom is close, “Shortly shall all my labours end, and thou shalt have the air at freedom” Later in the play Ariel helps Prospero to learn to forgive instead of having to gain revenge on his enemies. He shows Prospero how magic has disrupted and deluded him, making him almost inhuman.
He persuades Prospero to feel sorry for Gonzalo and his company by saying, “His tears runs down his beard like winter’s drops from eaves of reeds. ” Prospero then realises what Ariel means by this but cannot feel the human feelings as his magical powers have alienated him from humanity, and appeals his spirit who has helped him perform miracles, “Dost thou think so, spirit? ” His non human spirit tells him how if it were human, it would feel this way, “Mine would, sir, were I human. ” By doing this Ariel teaches Prospero humanity and makes Prospero a human decision which he agrees to, “And mine shall” In doing this Ariel shames Prospero into giving up his powers as even Ariel who is not a human could imagine pity for Gonzalo which Prospero could no longer feel as he was blinded by his great powers.