The Addictive Nature of Prospero's "Art"
While the magic of Prospero, the deposed duke of Milan at the center of Shakespeare's The Tempest, is frequently associated with art or creativity, this reading of the text seems incompatible with a substantial amount of textual evidence. Most notably, if the play is a celebration of Prospero's artistry, why does the wizard renounce his magic upon obtaining his goals: the happy marriage of his daughter and the reclamation of his dukedom? The answer to this question is hinted at throughout the text (though Prospero himself never directly states it): Prospero's magic seems to contain a certain addictive, dehumanizing element which Prospero realizes is at least partially responsible for his exile.
The first evidence that Prospero is addicted to magic occurs in Act I, Scene II of the play, when Prospero explains to his daughter Miranda how he lost his dukedom to his brother Antonio. According to Prospero:
And Prospero, the prime duke, being so reputed
In dignity, and for the liberal arts
Without a parallel; those being all my study,
The government I cast upon my brother
And to my state grew stranger, being transported
And rapt in secret studies.... (I. ii, 72-77)
In short, while Prospero blames his brother for the loss of...
Join Now to View Premium Content
GradeSaver provides access to 785 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 5420 literature essays, 1618 sample college application essays, 212 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.
Already a member? Log in