How Prospero Succeeds in His Quest to Reestablish Justice by Restoring Himself to Power?
In “Tempest” by Shakespeare, the character that controls justice and injustice is Prospero. The story revolves around an unjust act. His brother occupies Prospero’s throne by dubious means. How Prospero reacts to the situation to re-establish justice and to secure his lawful right to the throne? In reality, however, Prospero’s idea of justice seems to be a part of his bifacial strategy. He expects justice, but he does not apply the same yardstick of justice to others, when he enslaves Ariel and Caliban, to achieve his goals. On the other hand, he seriously poses himself as a victim of injustice and all his efforts are aimed to set right the issue. Therefore, his idea of injustice is subjective, and one-sided. He is only concerned about his welfare. Such an attitude can be termed as working for selfish aggrandizement. If one searches for the real sense of justice, it is not available in Tempest. Prospero is the lawyer, judge and the respondent as far as the subject of justice is concerned in the play! “Prospero’s sense of justice seems extremely one-sided and mainly involves what is good for Prospero.” A reader’s search for authentic morality will be futile in the story of Tempest. Everything is confusing, with no straightforwardness in the approach of Prospero as for justice. He views justice with colored lenses.
In any story/novel/drama, an author reveals something about his beliefs and convictions through his characters, however intelligently he may try to sweep them under the carpet. A gradual change in attitude of Prospero is seen as the story advances. With Prospero as a surrogate for Shakespeare himself, his sense of justice takes a new turn and he becomes more understanding. With the author’s entry in the play, the concept of justice takes a new dimension. With the fair turn of the events, the author succeeds in molding a happy ending and that is the time for all the characters to celebrate, including Prospero. The spectators of the drama forget the initial events that created the ripples of controversy as for justice and injustice and are happy that all is well which ends well.
The real dramatic elements come to the fore to provide the new turn and refreshing meaning to the story in the later part of the drama. Prospero uses magic, tricks which echo the special effects and he succeeds in persuading the characters and audience about the correctness of the case. He turns as a rightful claimant of justice. The righteousness of his methods is established and he succeeds in liberating the audience from the state of confusion. It now begins to side with him and gets convinced about his claim for justice. Prospero emerges as a reformed personality and rehabilitated internally. The audience loves and appreciates this new trend in imparting justice. He forgives his enemies, his slaves are released, the magical powers are no more there and at the end of the play the audience sees him only as an old man. “The wisdom of the princely hermit, Prospero, has a magical and mysterious air; the disagreeable impression left by the black falsehood of the two usurpers is softened by the honest gossiping of the old and faithful Gonzalo; Trinculo and Stephano, two good-for-nothing drunkards, find a worthy associate in Caliban; and Ariel hovers sweetly over the whole as the personified genius of the wonderful fable.”(The Tempest….) In fine, the concept of justice and injustice is related to the growth of the characters, as seen through the eyes and experience of Prospero. The tempest blows over and provides an entertaining end to the characters and viewers.