What is the role of the supernatural in William Shakespeare's The Tempest?

The role of the supernatural in William Shakespeare's The Tempest is to allow Prospero to enjoy the kind of power that was so suddenly taken away from him when he was usurped as Duke of Milan. With his magic powers, Prospero can exercise control over others, just as if he were back in Italy. Even more than that, he can control the very elements.

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Prospero's supernatural powers allow him to carve out his own little kingdom on a remote desert island. Undoubtedly traumatized by the experience of being usurped as the rightful Duke of Milan by his treacherous brother Antonio, he feels keenly the loss of power and yearns to exercise it once again. Unable, of course, to do this back in Italy, he settles for the island which is now his own private kingdom. Here, with his large books of magic and free from the machinations of ambitious courtiers and family members, he can enjoy a greater degree of power than he could ever have enjoyed in the Duchy of Milan.

It's hardly a substitute for the power he lost, though, but it still allows the exiled noble to act like a noble, making things happen, giving orders, and generally throwing his weight about. The imperiousness with which Prospero treats Caliban is a prime illustration of the fact that you can take the Duke from the court but you'll never take the court from the Duke. Wherever he...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 959 words.)

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