How does Prospero use his magic to exact his revenge in The Tempest?

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Prospero uses his magical powers, connected to the "brave new world" of the deserted island on which he finds himself stranded, to enact poetic justice more than to revenge himself on his enemies. He uses his power not to inflict on his enemies all that he has suffered (they get...

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Prospero uses his magical powers, connected to the "brave new world" of the deserted island on which he finds himself stranded, to enact poetic justice more than to revenge himself on his enemies. He uses his power not to inflict on his enemies all that he has suffered (they get only a taste of suffering) but to teach them a lesson and restore the proper order of life. His justice is restorative rather than punitive.

Prospero's main agent of justice is Ariel, a spirit he has freed from an evil spell. Ariel, in gratitude, serves Prospero faithfully. The action which starts the play's plot in motion is the storm Ariel raises at Prospero's behest. This magical storm forces the ship carrying Alonso and Antonio, Prospero's chief enemies, to crash on the island. Alonso, king of Naples, and Antonio, Prospero's brother, had conspired to depose him from rule, setting him and his daughter Miranda on a leaky vessel out to sea. Prospero ended up stranded on this deserted island, so it is only right (poetic justice) that Alonso and Antonio do so too.

Ariel enchants the boat so that the crew can't leave. We know the crew has an experience of practical matters that Alonso, Antonio, and the other aristocrats lack, so the main players will be all the more helpless. As it was for Prospero, they have only their own wits to rely on as they cope with an unknown land.

Prospero has Ariel set out a large banquet for Alonso, Antonio, and Sebastian, only to make it disappear as Ariel turns into a harpy and tells them to repent. The three are learning that everything is not as it seems. Used to being powerful, the men are helpless on the island, both from being in a strange place and due to Prospero's magic, which keeps them confused and disoriented. They learn greater humility through this experience and repent of their abuse of power. When they repent, Prospero gives up his magic as a prelude to returning to civilization. In another act of poetic justice, he fully frees Ariel, who helped free him from exile on the island.

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Though Prospero has magical powers that he can use to punish those who have wronged him, his power to exact revenge has limits; specifically, his power is limited to the island on which he lives and the surrounding waters. After all, Prospero can only take revenge on people who come into his territory. For example, Prospero cannot touch his younger brother Antonio, who is most deserving of punishment, until Antonio comes to the island. Only at this point can Prospero whip up some magic to teach him a lesson.

What's also very interesting about Prospero's magical powers is that Prospero does not wreak total havoc on his enemies, even though it is within his power to do so. Prospero chooses to punish mainly by frightening his foes, like when the fantastical banquet appears and then disappears in front of Antonio, Sebastian, and Alonso. This restraint suggests that Prospero's character is more complex and changeable than a typical revenge-driven protagonist.

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Prospero begins his magical vengeance by making his servant Ariel create a storm which shipwrecks select passengers. Ariel splits up the passengers, making King Alonso believe his son Ferdinand is dead and vice versa. Perhaps a sidenote to his revenge, Prospero also uses magic to test Ferdinand and his daughter Miranda’s love.

Ariel also puts Gonzalo and Alonso to sleep and then sings to wake them when Sebastian and Antonio attempt to kill them. At Prospero’s command, Ariel sets out a beautiful banquet before transforming into a terrifying harpy and directing the “three men of sin” (Alonso, Sebastian, and Antonio) to confront their evil deeds. Other phantoms appear and torment the men, but the good-hearted Gonzalo cannot see any of this.

Meanwhile, Prospero controls and enacts a kind of revenge on his ungrateful servant Caliban. When Caliban attempts to exact his own vengeance, Ariel chases him and his new masters, Trinculo and Stephano, with a vision of vicious dogs.

In the end, Prospero forgives the men who wronged him, restoring Alonso and Ferdinand and revealing the love between Ferdinand and Miranda. He breaks and buries his staff, drowns his book, and gives up both his magic (“But this rough magic / I here abjure”) and his desire for revenge.

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After Prospero's brother, Antonio, usurps his dukedom with the help of Alonso, he is exiled with his daughter, Miranda, to a faraway island. This island is where he encounters Caliban and saves the spirit, Ariel, who becomes his loyal servant.

On the island, Prospero exacts his revenge on his brother and Alonso by employing Ariel to magically create a violent tempest, which throws the king's ship off its course and shipwrecks its passengers on his island. Once the helpless passengers land on the island, Prospero utilizes magic to confuse and manipulate Alonso and the members of his court. Prospero has Ariel purposely separate Ferdinand from his father and employs him as his slave, where he works for Miranda's affection. Prospero also uses magic to strike fear into the hearts of his enemies and make them repent for colluding against him.

Towards the end of the play, Prospero shows mercy on Alonso and his court after having his dukedom restored by magically sending the ship back to Italy. Overall, Prospero utilizes his magical powers to create a tempest, control the shipwrecked passengers on his island, manipulate Ferdinand into falling in love with Miranda, and safely send the ship back to Italy.

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In The Tempest by William Shakespeare, we encounter Prospero living on an island with his daughter Miranda and two quasi-supernatural creatures, Caliban and Ariel. Prospero explains that he is actually the rightful Duke of Milan, but that his dukedom was usurped by his brother Antonio with the help of Alonso, King of Naples. Not only does Prospero have knowledge of magic, but he has compelled Ariel to be his servant.

Alonso and Antonio are voyaging together with Alonso's son Ferdinand and members of their court near the island where Prospero was shipwrecked. Prospero instructs Ariel to conjure up a giant storm to bring the ship to the island, preserving the ship and mariners intact, but casting the others into the sea and dispersing them around the island. When Prospero has his enemies in his power, he uses illusions to play upon their emotions, but eventually relents, agrees to the marriage of Ferdinand and Miranda, claims his dukedom, and renounces his magic. 

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