Examples Of Human Vulnerability In The Tempest

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PROSPERO’S FAULTY FORGIVENESS AND INVULNERABILITY Shakespeare’s The Tempest is rife with examples of human vulnerability. All who set foot on the play’s mystical island involuntarily surrender their agency to Prospero, the island’s undisputed ruler. His access to controlling magic and slave labor places him in a powerful, omnipresent position--Prospero easily exacts his will on those who inhabit or even sail near his domain. In The Tempest, Shakespeare’s most important ruminations on human vulnerability fall not on the island’s unwitting and vulnerable inhabitants and their tribulations, but rather on the man who uses these subjects like pawns in a game of chess. Seemingly invulnerable (meaning invincible in the face of physical…show more content…
In lines 48 through 57, he declares that “graves at my command / Have waked their sleepers, oped, and let ‘em forth / By my so potent art. But this rough magic / I here abjure... / ...I’ll break my staff, / Bury it certain fathoms in the earth, / And deeper than did ever plummet sound / I’ll drown my book.” Prospero begins with declarations of his power and invulnerability. He is an all-seeing entity on the island, and is capable even of raising the dead at will. He then announces that he will forfeit his magic, subsequently forfeiting his invulnerability. By vowing to break his staff and drown his book, he begins to lose the invulnerability that landed him in the powerful ruling position in the first place. However, Prospero is not sacrificing his power, but rather trading one kingdom for another. He has ruled over the island with magic, and plans on regaining a powerful position in Milan without its aid. His desire to rule without his staff and book shines a light on Prospero’s humanity. No one called for him to give up his powers; he does so through his own free will. Perhaps Prospero does not wish to take the invulnerability

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