Prospero, as in the magician from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and Nehru, as in Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India. Please note that I am going to take Prospero and the quotes of Nehru way out of context, relating them to my selfish self.
According to everything I was taught in my Humanities Core class about him, we are supposed to hate Prospero. So maybe that’s why I love him, even though the play, The Tempest, is the worst Shakespeare play I’ve ever read (I guess there’s a reason Vivien Leigh never performed it). Prospero, in the historical sense, represents the colonizers in that he takes over an island and controls everything and everyone in it. But instead of entering that historical, societal and racial conversation, I’m going to focus on why Prospero is living the dream life.
I always hear people complaining about society and the rules and expectations it forces upon us, and yes, I also complain about that (complaining is one of the worst things about people). Prospero has this issue too, so what he does is shun society, ignore his duties (being the Duke of Milan), avoid people, and focus on what he loves to do, which is read and study. Seriously, this is the ideal life, this is perfect, for me anyway. What wouldn’t I do to be able to do that?
What ends up happening is that he gets thrown out of Milan and ends up on an island with his daughter. The only other beings there are Ariel, some type of spirit but I say he’s a fairy, and Caliban, who is mocked in the play for looking like some type of animal but at school they say he was actually a human but the other characters were just really racist, since Caliban represents the colonized. Prospero makes them his slaves and has them do everything he doesn’t want to do or can’t do.
I think it’s terrible having people work for you because any type of boss is annoying. But when you are the boss, you love having people work for you. So in that sense, Prospero is living the life because Caliban does the manual work he doesn’t want to do and Ariel does the magical work he can’t do. Prospero wins. It would be awesome if we could have a bunch of minions like in Despicable Me, where they are also happy. But it’s impossible for anyone to be happy, boss or worker. Life isn’t about happiness.
What I most love about Prospero is that he did create his own little empire. He is the ultimate authority, he gets to control everyone around him, he is able to focus on what he loves to do, he is not surrounded by society and other people. I don’t like control freaks, but it would be nice to make everything go your way.
This is not possible. That is why Prospero is my fantasy.
Here is where I’m afraid I might sound really insensitive, because I’m taking his words completely out of context. It’s just that his words really got to me.
“…years of a dream life rooted in one spot, with the same few individuals to see, the same limited environment, the same routine from day to day. Sometime in the future we shall wake up from this dream and go out into the wider world of life and activity, finding it a changed world. There will be an air of unfamiliarity about the persons and things we see; we shall remember them again and past memories will crowd our minds, and yet they will not be the same, nor will we be the same, and we may find it difficult to fit in with them.”
This is the experience of moving on in life and having to revisit the past, whether its a place or people. This is real to me every time I moved up in school, from elementary school to middle school, where a lot of my friends left and changed. The same when entering high school having graduated from a private middle school, everyone changed and I no longer fit in with them anymore. And now I’m in college. When I go back home, I’m surrounded by memories and everyone is different and its lonely. (But then again, I always feel lonely, that is why Prospero’s life would not truly be good for me.)
“Prison and its attendant solitude and passivity lead to thought and an attempt to fill the vacuum of life with memories of past living, of one’s own life, and of the long chain of history of human activity… By writing of the past I have tried to rid myself of the burden of the past. But the present remains with all its complexity and irrationality and the dark future that lies beyond, and the burden of these is no less than that of the past.”
I am generally a melancholic person. I used to struggle with depression and suicidal ideation, but not anymore. More recently, I have come to accept that I have social anxiety and get panic attacks when something or someone reminds me of certain personal past experiences. Sorry for saying all of this, but my point is that I think and analyze a lot, and I try to be aware of exactly what is going on in my mind and with my emotions. I deal with this through writing. And that is a recent thing because I used to be a creative fiction writer, but now I can’t come up with anything that isn’t extremely personal to write.
“We seek to understand a particular event by isolating it and looking at it by itself, as if it were the beginning and the end, the resultant of some cause immediately preceding it. Yet it has no beginning and is but a link in an unending chain, caused by all that has preceded it, and resulting from the wills, urges, and desires of innumerable human beings coalescing and conflicting with each other, and producing something different from that which any single individual intended to happen.”
I’m just trying to figure myself and my life out.