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Jessica Andrade
Dr. Jana Lee
Essay #3
1 December 2015
Justified Magic
Is revenge in the form of magic justifiable in order to obtain justice? The act of revenge
upon any person is unacceptable because it is not honorable for any man to conduct nonetheless,
King to support such wickedness. The Tempest by William Shakespeare explores the use of
magic as an accomplice to mask an undeniable resentment held by the previous King, Prospero
toward his brother Antonio. The theme in The Tempest sets the foundation of the play based on
betrayal between two brothers who were in conflict for rule in Milan. Shakespeare touches on
many dramatic elements but more so, he releases the character of Prosperos difference of hubris
and pride because the character allowed reality to blunder away over the past twelve years while
he survived on the island with his daughter. The character portraying hubris gained magical
wisdom and power over the past several years that in turn lead him to believe he was superior to
the rest. The tempest from the opening scene symbolizes the conflicted Prospero during the years
of isolation in the island due to his brothers betrayal that he then turns into revenge. Shakespeare
discloses the conflicted and cheated Prospero by establishing the theme of betrayal using
hubristic characterization that illustrates his arrogance and magical superiority, correspondingly,
the tempest symbolizes the power struggle Prospero feels due to the betrayal of his brother.
Firstly, Shakespeare starts unfolding the theme indicating the betrayal caused by Antonio
when he was overthrown from Milan. To make justify the revenge toward Antonio, Prospero

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begins detailing his story to his daughter, Miranda. Prosperos main purpose is to convince his
daughter that they were victims of his brothers, her uncles malice and because of his betrayal
they have lost their royalty privileges in Milan. By Prospero telling Miranda what happened
twelve years ago, he leads her to believe that the revenge he is about to compel is justifiable only
because Antonio took Milan. Miranda was absolutely convinced that her uncle committed such
disloyalty when she said, By foul play, as thou say'st, were we heaved thence; but blessedly
holp hither (1.2.63-64). It is important to pay attention to Shakespeares theme because it is the
basis of the play that allows readers to understand why revenge is so vital and necessary for
Prospero upon the arrival of Antonio and the rest of the men. He is trying not only to convince
himself of his revenge but he is also, trying to warn Miranda of it. Moreover, Shakespeare sets
the theme for the readers early on the play in order to comprehend the urgency in Prosperos
revenge.
Secondly, Shakespeare uses hubristic characteristics to illustrate the pride and
supernatural power Prospero uses against people that are inferior to him. For example, Prospero
orders Ariel, an airy spirit to perform magical duties one of which is to create a tempest in order
to avenge against Antonio. Because Ariel is far less superior to Prospero, he takes advantage of
Ariel and uses her for revenge and pride. Shakespeare demonstrates that the mystical power
Prospero has been studying over the years has made him arrogant to the point where the cruel
leadership has completely taken over his character. Clearly, Prospero treats Ariel as a servant and
has no intention of setting her free from his witchery, Thou liest, malignant thing! Hast thou
forgot The foul witch Sycorax, who with age and envyWas grown into a hoop? hast thou forgot
her?(1.2.58-60). This scene is significant because it clearly depicts Prosperos hubris character.
He does not care about Ariel and only was him to serve him to revenge his brother. Additionally,

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in the scene, one can see the abuse and carelessness Prospero carries out with people less inferior
to him.
Lastly, Shakespeare symbolizes the tempest to Prosperos conflicted self and eagerness to
superiority. From the start, the author revealed to his readers that Prospero did not care enough
nor took the necessary leadership skills to rule Milan. Instead, he focused on his magic findings.
Shakespeare does not give the readers an understanding on Antonios reasoning behind his
actions. A respectable leader cares about the less fortunate and worries greatly for his society.
Prospero did not realize what he was loosing when he ignored his royal duties. Throughout the
play, Shakespeare leaves his audience with some doubt about Prosperos ability to rule. His
qualities as a leader were minimal because he ignored her role as King and focused on himself
rather than the people. For example, one can speculate that Prospero does not respect his
daughter. He commands her to listen as if she was one of his servants and he warns about the
revenge he is about to impose on Antonio and the newcomers but if she does not cooperate then
she shall pay the consequences as well. Prior to meeting with Ariel, Prospero says to Miranda,
Thou art inclined to sleep. Tis a good dullness, And give it way. I know thou canst not choose.
(1.2.185-186) and immediately orders her to sleep. Because Miranda is so young and nave, she
is a perfect target for Prospero to order around since her immatureness signifies weakness.
Nonetheless, it is essential to note that the author purposely reveals Prospero as a conflicted
character in order to fully understand his struggle with power and arrogance.
In conclusion, Shakespeare reveals the struggled and resentful Prospero by establishing
the theme of betrayal using several literary elements such as theme, hubris and symbolization to
demonstrate arrogance, magic and superiority. The tempest is a literary symbol that symbolizes

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a power struggle Prospero expresses due to the betrayal of his brother. The author portrays as
Prospero as a manipulator who takes advantage of the less fortunate such as his own daughter
and Ariel. He manages to manipulate two completely oppositions and orders them around to his
wishful desires.