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Lessons Learned

According to Stephen J. Miko, Prospero's "exile is a consequence of both the natural evil in his brother and his own retreat fro ducal responsibilities into studies--magic and the liberal arts" (377).

The mention of "liberal arts" caused me to think of our endeavors as students in relation to Miko's explanation of The Tempest. The manner in which Miko mentions "magic and liberal arts" in one breath seems to imply that these two concepts naturally go together. With this implication I immediately flashed to the world of Harry Potter and Hogwarts where magic is a part of liberal arts. However, for Prospero the combination of magic and his studies does is not progressive but rather the cause of his outcast "condition" as Miko argues. According to Miko, he Prospero believes that through his magic "he has brought out the evil in Antonio" and through his studies "to have lived too much in his mind (his dreams?)" (377). This added parenthetical "dreams?" intrigued me. In a sense, both Prospero's magical and intellectual abilities lead him to a dream-like existence on an isolated island. He has a paradoxical sense of power on the island: while he is ruler of this dream-like land, the fact remains that in "reality" he is an exile. In the same sense, we as critics control a paradoxical sense of power over the text. While we may be ruler of our own interpretations, the fact remains that a larger reality exists outside of our own thoughts. Thus, we can learn from Prospero's mistake and attempt to avoid being caught up "too much in our own minds (or dreams?)" and, instead, always balance our aspiring interpretations within the context of a larger reality.

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