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term of service on him before he grants him full liberty. Thus, too, he seeks at first to educate Caliban, until the monster puts his lessons to evil use, and repays the enchanter's kindness by an attack on Miranda's honor. Thereupon follows his reduction to slavery, and though we realize the necessity of such treatment, Prospero perhaps appeals to us least powerfully when he is showering abuse and threats on the creature of whom he confesses,
"We cannot miss him: he does make our fire,
The degradation of the savage by the civilized man for his own purposes has been so frequent an episode in the history of colonization that we are apt to sympathize instinctively with the weaker side.
But it is characteristic of Shakespeare's marvelous impartiality that, while he remorselessly unveils all that is gross and brutal in Caliban, he does not picture him as a mere Yahoo. His speech is not without a rude eloquence, and in his description of the island and its products he shows a vein of untutored imagination. Moreover, the course of events provides him with a couple of foils, who prove that even barbarism surpasses a stunted caricature of civilization, and acquires a classical dignity through the comparison. The shipwrecked butler, Stephano, by the magic of his "celestial liquor," wins in a moment Caliban's complete allegiance, which Prospero's nobler gifts have failed to secure. Confident in the powers of this "brave god," Caliban enters into a conspiracy with him and his shipmate to overthrow Prospero's rule and to secure "freedom" for himself. However nefarious his design, he pursues it with a concentration of purpose that puts to shame his worthless allies, who let themselves be lured from their object by the bait of some trumpery booty. And when the plot is foiled, Caliban has enough natural acuteness to recognize his own blunder.
"What a thrice-double ass Was I, to take this drunkard for a god And worship this dull fool!"
His promise to be wise hereafter and to seek for grace, and Prospero's conditional offer of pardon if he trim the cave handsomely, give us hope that there is no need to despair of even the servant-monster's future.
But Prospero has to deal with more highly placed and dangerous offenders than Caliban and his confederates. Fate puts his former
enemies at his mercy, and gives them at the same time an opportunity of showing whether they have repented of their misdeeds. Alonso, the King of Naples, agonized by the supposed loss of his son in the shipwreck, feels remorse stirring in his breast, and under the influence of Ariel's warnings bursts into fierce self-reproach. Antonio, the chief mover in the original crime, proves himself hardened in sin by the lapse of years. Even as Duke of Milan he has not been satisfied. He has found it galling to pay tribute to the King of Naples as his overlord, and in the shipwreck he spies an opportunity of getting rid of his burden. While Alonso, overcome with grief and fatigue, is sunk in sleep, he plans a treacherous attempt upon his life, with the aim of setting Sebastian on the Neapolitan throne and freeing Milan from its pecuniary obligation. Prospero's vigilance frustrates the dastardly scheme, but the criminals are resolute to "take thoroughly" their next advantage at nightfall. Even Ariel's denunciation of their misdeeds, and his menace of "lingering perdition worse than any death" in default of repentance only rouse them to defiant rage. They dash with swords drawn after the vanishing "fiend," but their weapons avail them nothing, and the shipwrecked company are drawn by an irresistible influence to the enchanter's cell.
Prospero cannot entirely conceal his inward tumult at this crisis. His nature, in spite of its stern schooling, has impassioned elements, and not only toward Caliban, but even toward Miranda and Ariel he betrays at times an intemperance of speech. Thus at the prospect of coming face to face with his enemies he is visibly agitated, and begs to be left alone. The conflict of emotions in his breast is sharp, but forgiveness triumphs over all lower feelings. "Prospero's forgiveness is solemn, judicial, and has in it something abstract and impersonal." All sins are pardoned, yet a distinction is made among the sinners. Alonso, the least guilty and most repentant, is frankly welcomed; Antonio is sternly rebuked and bidden to surrender the fruit of his misdeeds.
Prospero exacts the restoration of his dukedom, for so justice demands, but after his long exile he cares but little for the sweets of temporal sway, and in Milan his every third thought is to be his grave. It is less for his own sake than for his daughter's that he claims again the royalties to which she is rightful heir. For if it falls to Prospero to pardon the guilty, it is also his prerogative to reward the innocent, and never maiden merited more entirely all that a father's love could bestow than Miranda.
1 Dowden, Shakespeare's Mind and Art.
Among the women drawn by Shakespeare she stands alone and apart. Mrs. Jameson has spoken of her as "the Eve of an enchanted Paradise," and the words are apt. For Miranda, reared among “the untrodden ways" of the tropical solitude, afar from the companionship of her own sex, is wanting in the complexity of character bred by artificial surroundings, and is a more ethereal type of womanhood in its primal innocence than Milton's picture of the mother of mankind.
Even in infancy she was a "cherubin" that did preserve her father in his strange adventure, and in her island home she has been molded by the "silent sympathy" of Nature's loveliness into peerless grace of body and mind. Caliban himself does homage to her beanty, and her exquisite tenderness and modesty shine through her every word and act. Her first utterance is one of pity for the shipwrecked crew:
"O, I have suffered
With those that I saw suffer."
Prospero's story of their banishment does not draw from her laments for her lost greatness, but sorrow at the thought of the "trouble" she was then to him. But it is in her relations with Ferdinand that the full charm of her nature is revealed. So unlearned is she in worldly experience that when she first looks on him she takes him for a spirit, and even when Prospero assures her that "it eats and sleeps, and hath such senses as we have," she declares:
"I might call him A thing divine, for nothing natural I ever saw so noble."
Nor is Ferdinand unworthy of this tribute. Though but a man as other men are, he is a pattern hero of romance, a model of high bred gallantry. Between such a pair love at first sight is inevitable, but Prospero will not allow its course to run altogether smoothly. He brands the Prince as spy and traitor before Miranda, and confines him in the cell. Ferdinand blithely accepts bonds and drudgery, and proves that his is the true loyalty that welcomes the meanest task when undergone for his lady's sake. Theirs is indeed the rivalry of "two most rare affections," for Miranda steals forth to help the Prince in his task of log-bearing. But he declines the proffered aid; the truly royal nature thinks no toil a burden in the sacred cause of love:
"Hear my soul speak: The very instant that I saw you, did
My heart fly to your service; there resides,
And it is in a like spirit that Miranda tremblingly lays her heart at her wooer's feet:
"I am your wife, if you will marry me;
If not, I'll die your maid: to be your fellow
Thus throughout The Tempest, giving unity to the varied scenes, runs the underlying conception that true freedom consists in service, in obedience to necessary social and moral laws. Prospero himself may be looked upon as exemplifying Bacon's dictum that man commands nature by obeying her. Symbolically he represents the true freedom of the scientific spirit, which by laboriously mastering the secret laws of the universe is able to turn them to its own purposes in this case purposes of the highest beneficence. Against Prospero's rule, based on intellectual and moral supremacy, Caliban revolts. His is the perverted conception of "freedom" which identifies it with unlimited license, and which kicks against all restraint. But life must be lived according to some law, and the being who rebels against the service of a Prospero is ready to do abject homage to a Stephano, in return for a few sips of liquor. Not different in spirit are the designs of Antonio, who, galled by his subordination to Prospero, and afterward to Alonso, seeks by treachery and violence to free himself from the ties that bind him as brother and vassal. There is another more playful variation of the theme in Gonzalo's sketch of his ideal commonwealth, where the attempt to abolish all obligations between man and man results in hopeless contradiction. But not after methods such as these is freedom truly to be found. Miranda and Ferdinand, with the instinct of perfectly healthy natures, seek it by a far different road - that of loyal whole-hearted service and self-surrender in the bonds of mutual love. Ariel, too, puts "all his quality" gladly at Prospero's command, but he is a spirit, not to be permanently bound by human ties, and finding full liberty only in his own home of the elements.
Implicit rather than directly emphasized, this idea of the paradoxical nature of freedom underlies the play, and gives it deeper significance than appears on the surface. And the thought finds its crowning illustration when Prospero, having accomplished his ap
pointed work of punishment and pardon, bows himself again to human conditions, and of his own accord surrenders the omnipotence that he has valued only as the instrument of impersonal ends.
But it is not its "criticism of life" that gives The Tempest so secure a place in our affections. Its most powerful appeal is to that primary human instinct which craves escape from the limiting conditions of the material universe and joys to roam in the "ampler æther," the "diviner air" of poetic wonderlands. In seasons when there is danger of the world being too much with us, it is an enfranchisement of the spirit to breathe the atmosphere of the enchanted island, and to have glimpses as fresh and pure as those for which the modern poet yearned when he was fain to
"Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea,
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn."