Freedom and Confinement in “The Tempest

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In a critic’s standpoint upon the basis of freedom and confinement in “The Tempest,” Prospero and Miranda are sure of themselves that they have the understanding to make Caliban more human. For that matter, not only are the three of them imprisoned on an island, they are also trapped within their own heads due to the lack of knowledge that is presented to them. Moreso, all of the characters are eventually trapped in regards to work or the island itself and its metaphor that is defined as being part of human nature.

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Ariel is the embodiment of Prospero’s freedom later in the play. Miranda wants to be free from the binds of her father so that she can marry (once Prospero tells her that she is a princess). Caliban wants to be free two-fold: from the slavery that Prospero bestows before him and for them to leave his island. Prospero wants to be free from the shame of getting his governing power taken away from his brother, Antonio. All these characters go through suffering and erasure from the idea that being confined in the island of “human nature” is a good thing.

The critical article: “Double Erasure in The Tempest: Miranda in Postmodern Critical Discourse” by Sofia Munoz Valdivieso tells of Miranda’s role in being the only female character in the play and her influence towards the other characters. From the start of the attempted rape by Caliban, she is marked as a support system for Prospero. Fortunately, this also goes with the realm of gender issues and division. Freeing herself from this division of a gender role between a male slave and a female princess was one of the points that Miranda wanted to show to Caliban in Act 1. Even though Caliban suffers from colonial oppression, Miranda does as well. From the controlling aspects of Prospero (and from his magical spells), Miranda feels oppressed to do everything her father asks of her to do, even as much as help control Caliban from continuing to feel oppressed. Since Caliban is shown to be part of a Third World country, then “Miranda and not only Caliban should receive attention as the victim of oppression” (p.3). Miranda, who is rather appalled of Prospero’s sudden conquest of this “Third World” island, is content to be a key aspect in Prospero’s rise to power. Unfortunately, just like Caliban, Miranda does have any sort of human freedom to be contracted over by Prospero or even any sort of intelligence growth in her own person. By not making Miranda and Caliban aware that they could possibly join forces in the realm of human nature shows that both characters reasoning to be left alone or to be shown freedom has been rejected by Prospero. “The defining feature of political structure has sided with the victims of oppression and those without freedom to be the deciding factor of confinement and oppressing power” (p.5). Miranda is erased from the manner in which she is presented as an ally towards Prospero for her lack of speaking and her lack of questioning her father’s actions. Being erased makes Miranda no less different than Caliban as her own slave.

From the way that “The Tempest” tells of the harrowing attempts to showcase freedom in a reluctant sense of fortitude, the book “Forbidden Planet” by W.J Stuart used freedom and confinement in a tone of voice through the characters. The expedition of the planet (Altair-4) by the crew of this book turns out to be a tempest of its own, as finding a power source can and will be a dangerous task. It feels like finding this power source would show the difference of freedom or confinement. Also, the hunger of power by Morbius (from trying his best to be a God-like figure), sounds like Prospero in “The Tempest,” since both characters want to be free from the confinement of either the island or the planet. So, can both characters, no matter how good or evil they seem to be, be confined from trying to showcase their freedom away from human nature?

Morbius is a character who has the properties of Prospero, but does not have his prosperous generosity. Sure, he does “invite” the crew towards the planet, but in reality, he wants the crew to feel as trapped as he is. On page 82, Morbius shows the crew an object that helps his “untrained mind conduct such assimilate and advanced experiments in physics.” He is widely intelligent, of course and also tests them, in the next page, in an I.Q test. For this reason, he wants to try and confine the crew in staying with him in the planet, which, like the book “The Tempest,” is the paradigm of human nature. Morbius just wants to try and figure out the secrets of the universe, just like Prospero wants to. Morbius also wants to enslave the crew in order to give them the choice of whether to be free or not, just like Prospero does with whoever he comes across. Page 90 tells of the madness that is shown on the face of Dr. Morbius on the account of Commander J.J. Adams: “Mankind isn’t ready to receive knowledge, but of course you are always ready.” I’m assuming that because he is always ready, Morbius does have the confidence that he will succeed in his enslavement plan. Unfortunately, as we find out, just like Caliban in the other story, we do get a sense that, from his introduction, his plan will ultimately fail.

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Freedom and Confinement in "The Tempest. (2020, May 10). Retrieved from