March 15: The Tempest Acts 4-5

In what respects is Prospero the author of the story from within? Does he have a god complex, fueled by his ability to control the fates of those around him, or is he merely a man with power that enables him to fulfill his own sense of justice? In what ways is Prospero like or dislike a god/author figure, and is the resolution truly a just ending? What does the ending say about Shakespeare’s thoughts on happy endings?

9 thoughts on “March 15: The Tempest Acts 4-5

  1. Prospero is the author of the story from within because his actions are what directly move and control the plot. His doing causes Ariel to lead Ferdinand to Miranda, and thus leading to their love and a position of power within his family. He had the ability to control the fates around him, however, he is using them simply to fulfill his needs rather than universal needs, putting him less God-like and more just a man addicted to his manipulation and power. He does God-like things, such as cause the big storm or leads people directly to him through Ariel, but it is all based on his need to restore himself as Duke to after Antonio “execut[ed] the outward face of royalty”(124). The ending is rather undramatic and rather just an easily solved situation where Prospero gets back what he lost and Ariel gets to go free. It is filled with unexpected forgiveness after Prospero decides to abandon his magic and “bury it certain fathoms in the earth, And deeper than did every plummet sound” (64). The ending is happy for most of the characters, matching with Shakepeare’s other comedic works.

  2. I found the last act particularly characteristic of Prospero’s story telling authority. In his monologues and soliloquy he obtains the last words and reflections of the story. One particular detail that speaks to the “God-complex”, if you will, is his drawing of the curtain to reveal Miranda and Ferdinand playing chess to Alonso, to spurs him with the fact that his son is not in fact dead. The presence of a circus like curtain and reveal on the island is somewhat unnatural but also fits in with the level of magic that is performed throughout the play- that is to say not always overbearing displays, but ones sort of vaudeville-like with the spectacle of Caliban. Though the way he controls the fates of the characters sort of puts Prospero as the voice piece of Shakespeare himself as he, like the writer controls the story like a sad old puppet master.

  3. I would say that Prospero does have a “God-complex”. The definition of God-complex that I found is someone that has “an unshakable belief characterized by consistently inflated feelings of personal ability, privilege, or infallibility” and I would say that Prospero fits this definition. As you said in your prompt, he did have personal manipulations behind his actions, like wanting vengeance on his brother for exiling him and taking his position as Duke of Milan and this prompted his following actions. I think creating the storm is a very God-like sort of action, as is tempering with others’ lives. But, I can also see where Nora is coming from. I like the idea that she presented that he is more of a “puppet master” than a God-like figure.

  4. Prospero is not necessarily an author, but a man with a God complex. His story is an arc in discovery, power-madness and the realization that he’d come to love power too much. In the end, he let those that he held power over go, setting things right and making sure all got their just desserts. I don’t necessarily see the connection between an author and his specific story. His “ending” isn’t happy, per say, but one where he did his best to make things work in his reality. He even pleaded with the audience in the prologue to forgive his sins, to in turn set him free with their approval and praise. This wasn’t uncommon with Shakespeare’s characters (to break the fourth wall to speak to the audience) and isn’t direct evidence of an author-like character.

    This is apparent in the very beginning of Act 4, Scene 1 where Prospero speaks to Ferdinand about taking Miranda as a wife. Thou misogynistic and a product of its time, it shows Prspero recognizing Ferdinand’s worth to “give” him Miranda, asking him not to take her virginity before marriage and thus sully her name. He’s using his power in the peak of his personal struggle between righting the wrongs and his own desire to take back the power he lost. He gives Ferdinand his daughter, and in the next breath yells for Ariel to serve him. He practices both kindness and cruelty on the same page, using his power in a God complex no matter what the situation.

    I don’t see this as a connection to an author. An author shouldn’t be a manipulative, cruel God-like man such as Prospero. An author creates and hopefully sees the characters and “allows” them to play out their lives, no matter what the ending.

  5. I would say that Prospero definitely has a god complex, and is also an author inside the story. With the power of magic in his grasp, he becomes an author within the story, as he can manipulate events to benefit himself. Perhaps this comes as a response to his previous lack of control over his fate – when his duchy was usurped by his brother. Now that he has magic, Prospero can directly control his surroundings, and proceeds to act as the god of his own island and the author of his own story. However, at the end of the play, Prospero decides to give up his magic and at the same time relinquishes his control over Ariel and Caliban. During the epilogue, he acknowledges that he is no longer the author of his story, saying, “And what strength I have ‘s mine own” (line 2). Instead, he is subject to the audience, and can only be released by their applause.

  6. Prospero certainly has a god complex. He spends the entire play controlling every other character, manipulating the outcome of these circumstances. With this power, he also becomes the author, writing his own tale of revenge, then forgiveness. The resolution is truly just because Prospero forgives his enemies, frees Ariel, and relinquishes his control over the story. Had Prospero not relinquished his power, the ending would not have been quite so just. There would always be the nagging suspicion that Prospero could strike again. But, in keeping with Shakespeare’s other comedic works, the ending is just and happy for the majority of the characters.

  7. I think Prospero is the author from within because he in some ways the main character, everything is based on his reaction or things that have happened to him. He is controlling the end result as he continues on in the story. At first I believed he did have some sort of “God-like” complex about him until he was willing to give all the magic up and seek a normal life. I think that part humanizes him within the story. I think he only used his powers to fulfill his one task and had no desire to be this big entity of magic to control the world. He just had the upper hand in this situation and I think he will not take it for granted. He is not like a God figure in a sense that one wouldn’t let their powers go, I think he would have continuously controlled other people. I also believe he wouldn’t have order them to be set free. This reflects on shakespeare happy ending idea in way that its not always a clear cut happy ending but sometimes certain things happen to work out. He’s not a disney kind of guy.

  8. I feel like the term God-complex refers more to the way a person feels about themselves rather than just the control they have on others (which Prospero does). From the very first line of the very first scene, everything that has unfolded since then has been done through Prospero’s plotting and role as the author within the play because he holds the control over everyone and everything that occurs. I have a hard time calling it a complex rather than it being that this plan for revenge has been building inside of him after having been so helplessly overthrown by his brother. The way Ariel communicates with him shows how much Ariel looks up to Prospero and not just the enslavement, for example “Do you love me Master, no?” (IV.i. 48) And he responds saying yes but reminds Ariel to make no move until he has said to. He gives up his role as the god-like figure and author of the story by no longer controlling all the other characters by willingly choosing to give up his magical powers so I don’t think he maintains a god-like figure. This is by far the happiest ending of all the plays I have read by Shakespeare and I think it shows some humanity to his characters that are usually so vengeful.

  9. I agree with everyone that Prospero has a God complex, at least at the beginning of the play. I think the fact that he has lived alone on the island with his daughter and the sprites for twelve years and has been the most powerful person there. When his plan of uniting Ferdinand and Miranda starts to come together, he realizes that his power is only strong because of his anger toward his brother. However, the happiness of his daughter and Ferdinand makes him realize that time has passed, he is old, and it is futile to hold so many grudges. This is why he forgives his brother, even though he demands to have his dukedom back, and is kind toward Caliban and the two other attempted usurpers. He even decides to get rid of his magic abilities and plans to go back to Milan to plan out the rest of his ending life. He had the arrogance and the pride that created the God Complex in the beginning, but the happy union of Miranda and Ferdinand made him realize there is more to life than power.

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