By definition, a simplistic meaning of human nature is purely general characteristics and feelings of mankind. However, a more in depth interpretation is that human nature is the “fundamental nature and substance of humans, as well as the range of human behavior that is believed to be invariant over long periods of time and across very different cultural contexts. ” When studying almost any of Shakespeare’s plays, it is clear that Shakespeare was a master of observing human nature and carefully crafting it into his plays.
This is particularly perceptible in “The Tempest” between the relationship and character dynamics of Prospero, Ariel and Caliban. Before developing comparisons and contrasts between the three characters it is important to analyse the “human nature” of each of the characters individually to highlight their persona, behavior and mannerisms. Prospero is presented in the play as perplexing and mysterious, but he still remains a fundamental character in the play. This can be seen through he great power he seems to have, and the also the command over other characters in the play.
This is comprehensible from the first appearance of him, when we hear dialogue between Miranda and himself. “The very minute bids thee ope thine ear, Obey and be attentive” This shows Prospero’s perpetual insistence and demand for attention as he tells Miranda a story from the past which she has evidently heard before. This possibly shows Prospero’s repetitive demand for attention on a regular basis. However, the main feature of Prospero’s character is his power, which is evident from the opening of 1.
2 where Miranda says “If by your Art, you have put the wild waters in this roar, allay them:” This straight away gives the audience the knowledge that Prospero could have started the storm that we saw in 1. 1 at which point could create a sense of mystery and alarm as generally one would think that a storm is created out of natural causes as opposed to human nature and magic, thus revealing one of the essential themes present in “The Tempest. ” Prospero’s power is again reinforced simply by the way Ariel addresses him.
“All hail, great master, grave sir, hail: I come to answer thy best pleasure. ” Again, this shows Prospero’s incredible power over another character in the play but of equal importance, it shows a trend in Ariel’s character. Simply by the way that Ariel responds to Prospero we can clearly see that Ariel is submissive and rather passive in his approach towards his master. However, when realizing Ariel’s history there is a possible explanation for him being so sycophantic, and obsequious.
In short, Prospero saved Ariel from a “witch” called Sycorax, however if Ariel promised to serve Prospero, he would free him, thus motivating Ariel to serve Prospero. It is apparent that Ariel created the tempest, under Prospersos command. When Ariel reminds Prospero of his promise to relieve him of his duties early if he performs them willingly, “Let me remember thee what thou hast promised, which is not yet perform’d me” Prospero bursts into a fury and threatens to return him to his former imprisonment and torment.
The dialogue that follows between Prospero and Ariel, is a fantastic example of Prospero’s impervious ability to control those around him through magic, charisma, and rhetoric – again confirming his supreme power and influence. He provides Ariel with drawn out speeches about his past, and how he had rescued him and saved him from such a terrible life, and even threatens to send him back there. Here, it is important to observe that Prospero alone seems to understand that controlling history enables him to control the present.
In this case, he can control other by controlling how they understand the past. Prospero thus tells his story to Ariel and Miranda in the previous lines with a highly rhetorical emphasis on his own good deeds, and the ingratitude of those he has protected from the evils of others. This is particularly apparent in this part of 1. 2 because, although Ariel must know the story well, Prospero says that he must “Once in a month recount what thou hast been which thou forget’st. ” This is simply to ensure that his servant’s fickle nature does not cause him to become disloyal.