Towards the climax of The Tempest, why does Prospero forgive all?

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terafrayne eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Great question. My initial response was that he shouldn't have. That it was hard to believe he could forgive his brothers for shipping him and his daughter off to an island so they could usurp his power. But upon reaching the island he soon reigns as master over all who are there. So, in this sense, he never really gives up his identity as a ruler. Further, he is successful in achieving the best kind of revenge. Instead of just inflicting pain and misery on those who have wronged them, he makes them (Ferdinand's father) come to really realize that what they've done is wrong. And Prospero does inflict some pay-back on his brothers, for sure. But he never lets on that he has really deep-seated anger or resentment. Before his brothers arrive on the island, it seems like Prospero and Miranda are already living in a kind of dream world utopia where his magical powers enable him to rule. I think Prospero also has an epiphany that relates to the boundaries or limitations of power as they relate to the master/servant relationship. He has the ability to totally abuse his dominion over Caliban, Ariel, and all of his brothers who accidentally end up on the island. In a sense, he's like God and everyone is in the palm of his hand. But he has the sense to know that he must not abuse his power. What it seems like he really wants is for his daughter to be happy and to be at peace with others and to be a good ruler back home in Milan.

hillp eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Prospero begins to realize that he has brought much of his grief on himself. Upon arriving on the island, he makes slaves of Ariel and Caliban, has Ariel create a storm in order to shipwreck his old enemies, and even captures Ferdinand, the man his daughter Miranda loves. Prospero initially does these things in retaliation for losing his title as the Duke of Milan and having to flee his homeland for the remote island. But Prospero soon learns that denying others their freedom does not return him his own. The freedom he really longs for is emotional freedom, and the only way to achieve true peace of mind is to set free those he has enslaved and forgive them for any wrongs they have committed against him. Only through genuine forgiveness can the duke regain both his peace of mind and his throne.