What does Prospero expect from Miranda, Caliban, Ariel, and Ferdinand (the young people of The Tempest)? Do they meet his expectations?

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dave-algonquin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Shakespeare’s tragicomedy The Tempest, Prospero is the patriarch on a primitive yet magical island. Once the Duke of Milan, Prospero was wrongfully betrayed and exiled. It seems that Prospero expects the young people in the play to prove that they are willing put in the effort necessary to earn his trust and respect. He seems to have a goal of guiding them towards being civilized and upstanding citizens so that corrupt history does not repeat itself. This argument is supported with by fact that Prospero rewards his protégés for their efforts and moral fortitude at the end of the play.

Ariel and Caliban, Prospero’s sworn servants, are two contrasting characters native to the magical island. Ariel, an airy spirit, loyally executes Prospero’s plans, trusting his master’s intentions. On the other hand, Caliban, a deformed monster, resents his servitude and attempts to betray Prospero. At the end of the play, Prospero gives Ariel his freedom for his loyal efforts, and Caliban apologizes for his betrayal. Even though Caliban acknowledges his indiscretions, Prospero does not hold him in the same high regard as Ariel.  

Miranda, Prospero’s daughter, is a symbol of the cultured ideal that Prospero wishes to impart to Ariel and Caliban. Prospero tests Ferdinand to see if he meets the same high standards before granting Ferdinand Miranda’s hand in marriage. Ferdinand proves that he will follow Prospero’s moral standards and displays the willingness to work hard for his success. As a result, Prospero gives him his blessing to be with his daughter.

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The Tempest

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