The Tempest: Good Leadership Essay

The Tempest: Good Leadership Essay
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The values that are available in different pieces of literature and stories are designed to show lessons and concepts.  A lesson which is expressed in the play The Tempest, by William Shakespeare, shows how good leadership can change the outcome of the nation.  Shakespeare defines both good and bad leadership throughout the play and expresses how the correct type of leadership can lead to justice, while bad leadership can cause the downfall of a nation.  Expressing the values of each of the characters and showing different creations of leadership allows one to recognize how different associations with being in a place of power can alter the course of history and what is occurring among individuals surrounding a given situation. 

Leaders in The Tempest

There are three main characters that act as leaders in the story and which create a change in the nation because of leadership.  Prospero, the Duke of Milan, shows a sense of leadership through his different actions and thoughts that keep him in power.  Miranda, the daughter of Prospero, also holds a specific sense of leadership as she is able to speak with and convince Prospero of specific concepts.  The third main leader in the story is Gonzalo.  His role is one that is not a leader that takes power and control in given situations but instead is based on his ability to give aid to Prospero and Miranda when they are trapped on the island and to counsel them in specific situations.  Each of these characters shows a different identity toward leadership and leads to the comedy and tragedy that links to the changes in the government and the rulers that continue to create a specific presence in the land (Shakespeare, 1). 

Types of Leadership

The leadership which Prospero notes come from his beginning dialogue of convincing Miranda to come back to the kingdom.  However, the turn of events and the situation which Prospero is in causes him to immediately change his leadership into one which is more virtuous in nature and which works toward the betterment of given situations.  The different speeches which Prospero tells all relate to the virtue and the leadership which Prospero holds, as well as how he prides himself on this as a ruler.  Miranda furthers this concept by showing that the concept of virtue overcomes other attributes. 

“Miranda: There’s nothing ill can dwell in such a temple: / If the ill spirit have so fair a house, / Good things will strive to dwell with’t.  Prospero:  Follow me.  / Speak not you for him; he’s a traitor.  Come; / I’ll manacle thy neck and feet together” (Shakespeare, Act 1, Scene 2). 

The attributes from Prospero in places such as this show the sense of virtue that is a part of Prospero’s leadership as well as how this is reflected in his daughter by believing in good.  The concept of not believing in a traitor and remaining loyal then create the main concept associated with leadership. 

            The main concept that Prospero relates to is based on having a nobler reason.  Even though Prospero doesn’t have the ruling of government over the entire play, there is always a sense of doing what is nobler and carrying a specific attitude to overcome problems.  It is the attitude toward leadership that Prospero holds through the concept of having a nobler reason which changes the land and the government.  Prospero focuses on the concept of forgiving one’s enemies for a nobler reason and to work together for the power of the soul, all to reach hope and passion while overcoming fears and anger.  From this perspective, there is the understanding that a government may not define a country; however, a strong leader has the capacity of overcoming the wrong virtues and working toward the betterment of the country through a nobler reason (Bloom, 80). 

Gonzalo shows the same sense of leadership, specifically through the virtues and attribute which are associated with his counseling and guidance toward Prospero and Miranda.  When going to different parts of the island for help, it is Gonzalo that leads the way and ensures that the two are taken care of.  Gonzalo also works as a counsel and guide, specifically which adds to the virtue and display of caring for others first, which many are required to follow.  His nature is described as he talks to others of what should exist as well as how this changes various responses. 

“All things in common nature should produce /  Without sweat or endeavor: treason, felony, / Sword, pike, knife, gun, or need of any engine / Would I not have; but nature should bring forth, / Of its own kind, all fosion, all abundance, / To feed my innocent people” (Act 2, Scene 2). 

The focus which Gonzalo displays is one that cares for the people first and which shows that by having specific attributes and a sense of leadership, each individual can be cared for. It is through his leadership that there is the ability for the individuals in the land to be cared for. 

Lessons in Leadership

            The different characteristics that are shown by Gonzalo and Prospero also show how it is the leadership that overcomes the difficulties in life and which creates strong leadership.  This is seen in how the others react to those in a leadership position as well as the relationship which is associated with this.  If one carries a sense of virtue and remains in a strong sense of leadership, then others will respect the individual.  If not, then there is a chance that the leadership and the government power will come to an end and will alter the powers that are a part of a nation.  For instance, when looking at characters such as Francisco, there is respect toward Prospero and his daughter, as well as how they have moved into a leadership position. 

“Sir, he may live: /  I saw him beat the surges under him, / And ride upon their backs; he trod the water, / Whose enmity he flung aside, and breasted / The surge most swoln that met him; his bald head” (Shakespeare, Act 2, Scene 1). 

The attitude that Francisco has shown respect for Prospero and his daughter as well as how his leadership and strength overcame the tempest and allowed him to live.  The respect which has resulted is then able to create a stronger sense of loyalty from society toward the individual who has the leadership.   

            The political concept of leadership is one that is not only important because of the respect which is received by other characters in the play.  The leadership is also passed into the hands of other rulers who are able to adapt to the specific sense of being a leader in a given situation.  The example of this is Miranda, who is raised by Prospero through time.  The sense of leadership that she carries for Prospero is able to move her into a position of being a queen and offering the correct attitude toward a different government.  The mannerisms and sense of strength which Prospero gives her is the main reason why she is able to change her disposition and change the government as well as the difficulties which arise.  By Prospero having a strong sense of leadership, there is a capability to pass this onto Miranda.  More importantly, those who know Prospero as a leader will not only respect Prospero in his lifetime but will also understand that the same attributes are given to Miranda.  The governmental position that she moves into is one that will be regarded under the same sense of leadership.  The result is the ability for the leadership to show the same sense of respect, specifically because of the actions and attributes which are acquired (Simonton, 201).


            The concept of leadership in The Tempest is one that shows how good leadership is more important than other aspects of power and government.  The lesson which is learned is that good leadership lasts longer and leads to good government and respect among others.  The characters which show a sense of strong leadership are able to work more effectively while holding a sense of virtue to the work in which they are doing.  More importantly, the actions and attributes which follow with good leadership provide more respect among those that are in a country and also allow for future generations to hold the same leadership, virtue, and respect among the citizens.  The main lesson which Shakespeare teaches is that good leadership lasts longer than good government.  If one doesn’t have a sense of good leadership, then the government also can’t practice the correct powers and all of the needs within the community will be lost.  Prospero and other characters in The Tempest show how it is individual leadership that creates a community and powerful nation before the policies of a good government. 

Works Cited:

Bloom, Harold.  William Shakespeare: Tragedies.  Infobase Publishing: New York, 2010. 

Shakespeare, William.  The Tempest.  Penguin Books: New York, 1995. 

Simonton, Dean.  “Thematic Content and Political Context in Shakespeare’s Dramatic Output, With Implications for Authorship and Chronology Controversies.”  Empirical Studies of the Arts (22), (2), 2004.