The Tempest

by: William Shakespeare

Five Key Questions

1) Why was Prospero banished?

Years before the action of The Tempest begins, two men conspired to assassinate Prospero, who was then the Duke of Milan. These two men were Prospero’s brother, Antonio, and the King of Naples, Alonso. The purpose of these men’s conspiracy was to remove Prospero from power and install Antonio in his place. Antonio succeeded in taking over the dukedom but the assassination plot failed because Gonzalo alerted Prospero to the plot and helped him escape from Milan on a rotting boat. As Prospero explains to Miranda in Act I, scene ii, they arrived on the island “By providence divine.” Although Prospero is clearly the victim of a foul plot against his life, he was not entirely blameless in the events that occurred. By his own admission, Prospero’s increasing obsession with the study of magic had begun to take more and more of his time. This obsession forced him to neglect his duties as duke and eventually hand the government over to Antonio. Though Prospero’s delinquency does not justify Antonio’s betrayal, it certainly enabled it.