Prospero, a former Duke of Milan, is a well-educated bookish magician who lives in exile on an island with his daughter, fair Miranda. After his treacherous brother Antonio steals his dukedom, he barely escapes, thanks to faithful Gonzalo who arranged Prospero’s departure in a boat stuffed with food, clothes, and, most important, his precious books. After arrival to the remote island, Prospero finds the son of the witch Sycorax, Caliban, tries to teach him some good manners and fails. He also finds Ariel, an airy sprit, who had been trapped in a tree for twelve years, frees the spirit successfully in exchange for service, and promises to free him someday.
Prospero is an example of a caring parent, concerned not only about Miranda’s well-being, but also about her education, her gradual introduction into the world of other people and, of course, about the arrangement of her marriage. In fact, all his magical deeds, starting from arranging the tempest, giving multiple tasks to Ariel, to designing the weird feast scene performed by local sprites and punishing Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo, are mainly intended to marry fair Miranda and honest Ferdinand. Prospero just wants to put his affairs in order before abandoning his magic forever, so he wants his daughter to be married and his dukedom to be restored. At this, he does not mind some mental torturing and even possible execution of his wrongdoers, he openly gloats seeing Alonso and his people in a half-mad state, and only the compassion expressed by Ariel stops him from further vengeance. Prospero turns to kinder attitude, reveals his personality, tells a short version of his story and the events of the last four hours at the island, then invites Alonso to be a guest in his cave, before they all would be able to leave on ship restored by helpful Ariel.
Prospero in the Essays