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So Cold?

Harold Bloom asks in his academic article, "The Tempest":

Why does Shakespeare make Prospero so cold?

Prospero, cold? Bloom must have missed or conveniently overlooked some important details in the play.

Prospero may be a little eccentric, but he also exhibits some of the qualities of a joyful father and a merciful crusader.

For instance, during the meeting between Ferdinand and Miranda in Act 3, Prospero says "[Aside] Fair encouner / of two most rare affections! Heavens rain grace / On that which breeds between 'em!" (3.1.74-75). That certainly doesn't sound so cold; he is rejoicing due to the fact that his daughter has found happiness and a lover, after a fair number of years spent practically in solitude. He expected it to happen, too, because he planned it; yet he can't contain his excitement when it works out.

Prospero also proves to be rather merciful to his enemies: he releases all of them at the end of the play, and, instead of carrying out the destruction of Alonso, goes so far as to reunite him with his son, Ferdinand.

Prospero is definitely not cold throughout the entirety of the play, nor throughout most of it, in my opinion. He is merely an old man whose time is running out, and who wants to set things right before he heads to his grave. Why else would he appeal directly to the audience in the Epilogue? He seems to realize that his time is short, and he makes one final plea for his own salvation, after sacrificing of himself to ensure the unity of the other characters in the play (Alonso-Ferdinand, Ferdinand-Miranda, etc.).


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