We are prompted with the four questions, the essential questions that we are to “live into”. These four questions jump off the page as fairly universal themes throughout all literature, but I wanted to analyze how they applied to The Tempest, specifically Prospero.
“Who am I?” Prospero, in his own mind, is the rightful Duke of Milan, but he also acts as the puppet master behind the events of the play. As we discussed in class, he clearly possesses the most power of any one character, seemingly having an effect on everyone who reaches the island. He acts as if he controls Miranda’s love for Ferdinand, as well as manipulating Antonio upon his arrival to the island.
“What do I love?” It’s easy to think about this question and immediately think that Prospero only loves Miranda. This may overlook his love for Ariel, however. As we can see there is tension between Ariel and Prospero for much of the play, but once Prospero agrees to free Ariel soon, we can see that there is love there. The idea of losing Ariel is clearly saddening for Prospero, and it’s hard for him to see Ariel go.
“How shall I live, knowing I will die?” Prospero seemingly lives a life of vengeance at the start of the play. It appears that knowing he could very well live out his days and die on the island, he is not content to give in and attempts to get his revenge. Knowing he will die, Prospero is unwilling to lie down and let Antonio be the Duke of Milan instead of him.
“What is my gift to the family of man?” This question is an interesting one. Perhaps Prospero’s gift to the family of man is yet to come. It appears his magical prowess is something he’ll now give up, but maybe returning to Milan will open the door for another chapter of his life, and he’ll be able to give back to the world that he has fought so hard to return to.