The Tempest The Play By William Shakespeare

1151 words - 5 pages

The Tempest the Play by William Shakespeare

Ruler’s in general face many problems, as is the nature of having
power and authority. However rulers like Prospero face even more
difficulties, as Prospero has the ultimate power of magic and can
control and manipulate people and their actions, more so than a
natural ruler.

The first difficulty presented is an issue, which is dealt with
throughout the play: the idea of how much or how little to intervene?
From the beginning of the play we are told of how and why Prospero is
usurped from his dukedom, “I thus neglecting worldly ends, all
dedicated/ To closeness, and the bettering of my mind/ With that
which, but by being so retired, O’er-prized all popular rate, in my
false brother.” Namely because he did not get involved in running the
country and possibly felt that his job was not to intervene but to be
a figure-head for the country and leave the country to run itself, a
‘laissez faire’ attitude to ruling. This short speech by Prospero
raises the idea that perhaps we should remember that being a ruler
involves both rights and responsibilities; Prospero wanted the former
but not the latter.

The idea of intervention and responsibility is presented in Act 2,
Scene 1, where Prospero intervenes telling Ariel to wake Gonzalo
before Antonio and Sebastian draw their swords and kill him. This
issue, is particularly difficult for a ruler such as Prospero as he
has the power to manipulate the situation to suit him self, raising
moral as well as personal dilemmas?

This raises yet another problem faced by rulers, specifically Gonzalo;
of how much trust you can give your subjects or more appropriately
those who are next in line to the throne? This idea of trust was
raised in Act 1 Scene 2, where Prospero is explaining to Miranda the
reasons behind his usurpation, “in my false brother/ Awaked an evil
nature; and my trust like a good parent, did beget of him / A
falsehood, in its contrary as great/ As my trust was- which had indeed
no limit,” the repetition of the word ‘trust’ illustrates the
important of the theme to the overall play and emphasises the
importance of trust to Prospero and indeed all rulers. This idea is
further developed in Act 2, scene1 where, as previously mentioned
Sebastian and Antonio attempt to kill Gonzalo in his sleep.
Illustrating the disloyal nature of those individuals close to those
in power. This is of course the main reason why Prospero is on the
island because of his trusting and naive nature, of those around him.

This theme is explored in numerous Shakespearian dramas and is perhaps
the worst danger for a monarch in Shakespeare’s plays. Good rulers get
deposed and killed when they are too trusting; when they fail to be
aware of usurpers and betrayers. Hamlet's father is shocked that his
brother would unnaturally murder him. Lear believes his inherent
kingship will inspire reverence even when he strips himself of real
power. Edgar,...

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