In act 1, scene 2, of William Shakespeare's comedy The Tempest, the audience learns that Prospero was once Duke of Milan, but his dukedom was usurped by his brother, Antonio, with the help of the king of Naples. Prospero and his then–three-year-old daughter, Miranda, were set adrift at sea and subsequently landed on the remote island that is the setting for the play.
Prospero had already started down his path of exile and alienation before he even arrived on the island. Prospero tells Miranda in act 1, scene 2, that while he was Duke of Milan, he gradually withdrew from his duties and from his contact with the people in his dukedom. He sequestered himself in his library to study magic, letting his brother take over his duties and responsibilities.
PROSPERO. The government I cast upon my brother,
And to my state grew stranger, being transported
And rapt in secret studies....
I, thus neglecting worldly ends, all dedicated
To closeness and the bettering of my mind... (1.2.90–92, 106–107)
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