The Tempest

by: William Shakespeare

Five Key Questions

4) How does Prospero manipulate Alonso and his company?

Throughout the play Prospero commands his servant Ariel to present Alonso and his company with visions of splendor and horror. These visions have a dual purpose. On the one hand, they are meant to keep the men disoriented. At one point Ariel even puts the men to sleep in order to disorient them further. As long as Alonso and his company remain bewildered, Prospero can control their movements and lead them through space as he pleases. On the other hand, the visions of splendor and horror are meant to break the men down emotionally and psychologically. This emotional breakdown is a crucial aspect of Prospero’s plan. Alonso must feel broken and defeated, so that when Prospero reveals that his son Ferdinand survived, the revelation will enable an authentic emotional resolution to their longstanding conflict. In other words, Prospero uses magic both to get revenge and to secure his own salvation.