It is surprising that I found The Tempest so disturbing considering the saturated vampire werewolf and zombie world that we live in. The supernatural doesn’t bother me. I loved Prospero’s Harry Potter wizard qualities so I had figure out what it was that creeped me out about this play. The conclusion that I came to is that the way Prospero wields his control in the play creates an imbalance leaning more towards unjust than justice.
While Prospero was unfairly driven from his kingdom because of his lackadaisical attention he overcompensate son the island. He becomes a control freak. He is so addicted to the power of controlling others he has difficulty relinquishing power while he has Ariel and Caliban to do his bidding. It seems as if Ariel has paid Prospero back tenfold the way he flits about the island for him, yet Prospero dangles freedom in front of Ariel like a carrot. In act 1 Ariel inquires about, “My liberty” (1.2.247) and Prospero goes on a tirade reminding him of all he has done for him. Ariel immediately backs down and continues licking Prospero’s boots (if he was wearing any). Even at the play’s end it is not clear if Prospero frees Ariel. He is a loyal servant but Prospero only has regard for his plans.
Caliban is another one of Prospero’s creepy, supernatural servants. Caliban is not at all complimentary of Prospero as Ariel is. Caliban would be dangerous if he was set free which explains Prospero’s control over him. Although Caliban is such a vile thing he would be less offensive to Prospero and Miranda’s sensibilities if he was locked away out of sight but Prospero uses him for physical labor. Even though Caliban..”didst seek to violate the honour of [his] child” (1.2.350-351) he keeps him around to fetch firewood. A better purpose for him and his long, pig-nut digging nails would be banished out to sea.
Prospero also exhibits control over his sweet, innocent daughter. He tests Miranda’s control of her virtue. Even though he knows that she thinks Ferdinand, “carries a brave form” (1.2.415) and thinks he is “A thing divine, for nothing natural I ever saw noble” (1.2.423-424) he still tests her ability to follow his orders and abstain while she is alone with him. He does exercise his fatherly duties in testing Ferdinand’s intentions but then he still uses his daughter in his grand scheme to exact revenge.
While Prospero was removed from his position because of his lack of control he goes overboard once he gains some control. He uses whoever he can to increase his power and move the players in his game as he sees fit.