The Tempest

Deconstructing Prosperity: Undermining Prospero’s Authority in The Tempest College

A variant of prosperity, Prospero undoubtedly serves as the major manipulative authority throughout Shakespeare’s drama, The Tempest. Through a postcolonial reading of the text, one can discern that The Tempest is riddled with native characters, forced servitude, the assimilation of language, and ultimately, Prospero’s own construction of the characters’ fates. Conjuring the tempest itself in order to marry off his daughter, Miranda, and reclaim his lost power, Prospero aims to construct the outcomes of the play by repeatedly manipulating those around him. Often referring to his “art,” Shakespeare’s ambiguity leaves the reader to question, what, or whom, is actually Prospero’s “art.” Throughout the course of The Tempest, Shakespeare consistently calls into question both the source and the legitimacy of Prospero’s powers. Through his manipulations of the denotations in Prospero’s dialogue, Shakespeare subtly reveals Prospero’s art to be nothing more than a carefully constructed illusion of power, simultaneously undermining his authority within the text and characterizing him as the quintessential colonial hegemon desperate for power.

The ambiguous nature of Prospero’s art is repeatedly referenced throughout the play by both the...

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