Variances in Manipulation in The Tempest

            Throughout The Tempest various characters use manipulation as a way of trying to gain power or control over others. The two characters that do this the most are Prospero and Antonio. While these two both rely heavily on the manipulation of others, one is the protagonist of the story, and the other is the villain.

Fairly early in the play, while speaking to Ariel, the spirit trapped in spirit to him, Prospero uses his authority over Ariel to get them to do what he wants:

Ariel: Pardon, master.

I will be correspondent to command

And do my spriting gently.

Prospero: Do so, and after two days

I will discharge thee. (1. 2. 298-301)

In this passage, Ariel is very submissive and willing to do exactly as Prospero asks them. Ariel is so willing to do as they are told because not only are they trapped in service to Prospero, but also because Prospero has told them that as long as they do as they are asked, he will set Ariel free of his service in two days. He has the power to give Ariel exactly what they want, and as such, he has the power to manipulate them. By telling Ariel that he will “discharge thee” after two days if they do as he asks, Prospero is getting Ariel to do exactly what he wants them to do in order to achieve his goals. By then following through on his word at the end of the play and setting Ariel free, Prospeto shows the difference between the way he manipulates people and the way Antonio does.

In the second act of the play Antonio shows his manipulating side (which, when compared to Prospero’s is far more malicious) when he tries to convince Sebastian to kill Alonso, the king of Naples, and take his crown.

Antonio: And yet methinks I see it in thy face,

What thou shouldst be. Th’ occasion speaks thee, and

My strong imagination sees a crown

Dropping upon thy head. (2.1. 200-203)

Antonio is doing his level best to convince Sebastian that killing the king, his brother, is a good idea. Antonio tells Sebastian that “My strong imagination sees a crown / Dropping upon thy head”, meaning that, though he is just imagining it, he can see Sebastian wearing the crown as clear as day.

Where Prospero just wants to get his life back after being forcibly exiled by his own brother, Antonio just seems to want power and chaos Prospero uses manipulation as a way to get his former life back, and Antonio uses manipulation to gain power and cause chaos.

Throughout The Tempest Prospero is portrayed as being a generally good guy that manipulates people for a fair reason–getting his rightful place as Duke of Milan back–whereas Antonio, his brother is a usurper who uses manipulation for generally nefarious purposes.