Was it right for Prospero to create a violent storm in The Tempest?

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In Shakespeare's The Tempest, Prospero creates a “storm” at sea through his spirit servant Ariel under completely controlled conditions that ensure the safety of everyone involved. No one is in real danger, and therefore Prospero's action is not morally faulty, although Prospero's morality is questionable in a broader sense.

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If we are to reflect on the morality of Prospero's “storm” in Shakespeare's The Tempest, we should first understand exactly what that storm is and what purpose it is meant to serve.

First, the storm is not natural. We learn in the play's second scene that it is caused by Ariel, Prospero's spirit servant. Ariel is the one who swoops around the ship, putting on a show of wind, thunder, and lightning. There is no real danger. Even after everyone except the crew members abandons ship in terror, Ariel makes sure they all safely reach the shore. He puts the crew members into an enchanted sleep and brings the ship safely into a harbor. The rest of the fleet is not affected by the “storm” and arrives safely at its destination.

We can see, then, that this “storm” is created and carried out in controlled conditions. No one will be hurt, for Ariel makes sure of that (and is perfectly capable of doing so, as Prospero knows beforehand). Further, Prospero has a specific purpose for this storm. It is time for him to set right what has been wrong, and he uses the storm to bring the major players into one place so that the issues of the past may finally be resolved and he and Miranda can get off the island.

So it seems that Prospero's method of causing the storm is not necessarily morally wrong, for he does so in such a way as to ensure the safety of all involved. His purpose, too, seems to be good. Where Prospero may somewhat fail morally, though, is in his attempt to act like God. Prospero has powers that are questionable at best, for he engages in magic and holds the spirit Ariel as his slave. While Prospero's “storm” may not have been morally wrong (at least on the surface), he is still on shaky ground morally in a broader sense.

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