If you were stranded on a desert island what three things would you bring?
I have been asked this question many times and my answer sometimes includes a ping-pong table, sun glasses, and a book titled, “How to Build a Boat.” I have never been stranded on a desert island, but Prospero has. The play, The Tempest, is set on an island in the New World where Prospero and Miranda must live away from their home of Milan.
What three things would Prospero bring to a desert island?
This first thing Prospero would pack is his magic. Prospero gains his power from his magic. Without it he would be powerless and weak. Power is one characteristic that reminds him of his great life back in Milan. The constant reminder of what he left behind pushes Prospero find a way back home.
The next item on Prospero’s list is a book titled, “Manipulation 101.” Prospero’s power doesn’t only come from his magic, but from his ability to easily manipulate others. When He first arrived in the island, Prospero quickly gained control over Caliban and Ariel making them his indentured slaves. With the ability to exploit those around him, Prospero gains authority over all existing forms of power and is able to create his own hierarchy of command.
And finally, Prospero would bring his daughter, Miranda. Like Prospero said in the play, Miranda is 1/3 of himself. Miranda is Prospero’s only human connection to his past and the his only reason to have a bright future. We see Prospero’s devotion to Miranda throughout the play. Without Miranda, Prospero would not be civil and seek pure revenge for what his brother did.
So, what three things would you bring if you were stranded on a desert island? This question doesn’t ask how or why you got onto the island, or even how you would get off. The question is about the time you spend on the island and what is most important to you.
What does Prospero care about and what does that reveal about his character?
Do the things we bring define who we are and what we stand for?