At a Glance

The Tempest key characters:

  • In The Tempest, Prospero, the former and rightful duke of Milan, practices magic and has been living on an island after his dukedom was usurped by his brother Antonio.

  • Miranda is Prospero’s daughter who falls in love with Ferdinand.

  • Ferdinand is the son of King Alonso; he must submit to a series of tests before Prospero allows him to marry Miranda.

  • Alonso is the king of Naples who helped Antonio usurp Prospero’s dukedom. Alonso is so distressed by the thought of losing his son in the tempest that he repents his evil deeds and is forgiven by Prospero.

  • Antonio is Prospero’s brother. He has maliciously usurped Prospero’s dukedom but is forgiven in the end.

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Prospero is the protagonist of the play, and throughout the first three acts, the usurped duke is bitter and tyrannical. Prospero demands absolute control over the other characters in the play, even toying with them (as in the case of Caliban's ill-advised revenge plot). By the end of the play, however, the audience understands the positive motivations behind Prospero's vindictive attitude, as his actions lead to the restoration of his dukedom and the marriage of his daughter.


Miranda is Prospero's teenage daughter; she feels trapped in her life on the island. Having been exiled before her formative years, Miranda longs to meet and interact with someone other than her father or Caliban (who attempted to rape her). Most of the time, Miranda is passive until motivated to defy her father by her love for Ferdinand.


Ariel is the spritely slave of Prospero. He has served his master willingly and happily ever since the exiled nobleman freed Ariel from his imprisonment in a tree—a punishment dealt by the witch Sycorax. Ariel is just and even-tempered, yet Prospero often takes advantage of him. Ariel is the character most responsible for convincing Prospero to forgive the people who wronged him (by describing in detail the terror that Prospero's punishments have inflicted on his victims). He ensures his own freedom from...

(The entire section is 564 words.)