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A Techno-Controller


Throughout time, technology has become more and more within the reach of human race in its availability and use. We are conveniently granted control through several man-made creations that can make our lives simpler than a life without such advances in technology. The power of technology lies in the hands of those in control over its technological being. The use of power on technology is portrayed in William Shakespeare’s, “The Tempest,” in which Prospero, the artist and technician, uses control through his mystical arts to manipulate Miranda, Ariel, and Caliban, as his technological controls who all help satisfy Prospero’s need for control in a convenient manner.

The lack of control in which Miranda has over her own life, shows the impact her father- Prospero, has over her. Prospero becomes the controller and master of his creation in which he uses magic to manipulate the world around him.  Prospero is portrayed as a technological controller, as he is shown to be manipulative through his magical abilities. Miranda in return is seen as the creation, or a form of technology that is utilized by Prospero, in that she is constantly forced to act in ways against her will.  She shows a loss of self in that she has no say in the way her life is played out.  She is revealed to be a very passive character that simply does what she is told, and follows her Father’s imposed lifestyle upon her, whether out of fear or genuine respect.

Prospero does not allow Miranda to even choose her own husband.  Against his daughter’s knowledge, Prospero uses his magical powers to conjure a spell through Ariel, his mystical assistant, to have her fall in love with Ferdinand, who equally was spell-woven to fall in love with Miranda.  While Miranda lay asleep, Ariel is told to receive Ferdinand to carry out the task of a love connection between himself and Miranda as the controller of his creation, Prospero uses magic to control Miranda, just as one may use electricity to control technological devices.  Miranda is used as a tool, a form of technology that Prospero, the controller of her technological being manipulates to work out her life in a way in which is pleasing to him.

Technology as we are familiar with in our times is not solely for the purpose of convenience but also for the desire for control, as we long to be masters of our world, and the lives of those we hold close. This same manner is relevant in Miranda’s portrayal of being technological aspects of Prospero’s life- as Prospero controls her being, for no actual benefit in return to gain from her- just mere desire to control.

This use of control on Miranda however impacts the relationship she has with Ferdinand.  She feels as though she’s unworthy and controlled.

“[I weep] at mine unworthiness, that dare not offer
What I desire to give, and much less take
What I shall die to want. But this is trifling,
And all the more it seeks to hide itself
The bigger bulk it shows. Hence, bashful cunning,
And prompt me, plain and holy innocence.
I am your wife, if you will marry me.
If not, I’ll die your maid. To be your fellow
You may deny me, but I’ll be your servant
Whether you will or no” (III.i.77–86)

The character of Miranda is shown to be that of one that is offered to be used for the better of others.  She is a form of technology as she offers her being and her control over to her Father, as well as her husband later on in the play.

            Likely, Ariel, in his loyalty and efficiency is presented to be yet another technological force in which Prospero takes complete control and use over.  Ariel is a spirit upon whom Prospero constantly calls upon to carry out tasks throughout the play.  There is a sense of helplessness that Ariel reveals throughout the play.  He shows a wanting of freedom, but is in some way trapped from being able to achieve that opportunity.

            Towards the beginning of the play, after carrying out the task of causing a storm, Ariel reminds Prospero of the deal they had made, which entails that Ariel would receive a year off of his servitude towards Prospero, if he is to carry out the given tasks without complaints.  Prospero then becomes quick to show his sense of control and ownership over Ariel, as though he is his property, his tool for service.  Prospero reminds Ariel that he was rescued and freed from imprisonment due to Prospero rescuing him, and that he should stop complaining or else he would suffer twelve more years of imprisonment.  Ariel, out of fear, follows Prospero’s orders, and abides by what he is told.  The control Prospero has over Ariel, for his own selfish gain, shows a sense of technological possessiveness that Prospero has over Ariel.

            While Ariel is more of an “airy-spirit” that tends to Prospero’s needs, Caliban is a character within the play that is seen as more of an earthly servant towards Prospero.  Likewise, Prospero shows severe ownership and control over Caliban, in the way he talks to him, and treats him, in more of technological aspect.

            Prospero views Caliban demeaningly, in a way in which that Caliban should be grateful for the effort Prospero had put into educating him, and teaching him about living a civilized life.  Prospero in his perspective “created” Caliban, to be the being he is.  This sort of ownership and care is deemed to be respected and grateful for, in Prospero’s eyes.  Caliban however, views Prospero to be an oppressor.  He states:

“You taught me language, and my profit on’t
Is I know how to curse. The red plague rid you
For learning me your language!”  (I.ii.366–368)

Caliban seems to be ungrateful for what Prospero has done for him, from time to time.  He views the knowledge of what Prospero and Miranda teaches him, to be a force of intimidation that portrays  his difference from both Prospero and Miranda; therefore he shows resentment in his gratefulness towards them.

            Just as Prospero interrogates Ariel, for the favor in which Prospero had done for him, likely Prospero constantly reminds Caliban of what he does for him- in order to keep him in check; in a way to show that Caliban is now obligated to serve and respect Prospero.

            Prospero’s forceful attitude towards Miranda, Ariel, and Caliban, all show his sense of control and ownership over their being.  Prospero is then the creator, and controller, as Miranda, Ariel, and Caliban remain his technological creation, on which he imposes rules and commands, for his own self-fulfillment of desires.  Therefore, the characters of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” clearly portrays a technological lens towards the play, and how it is then carried out.  Technology is shown to be used not only for convenience, but also for the purpose of fulfilling a desire of power and control over another part or being.

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~ by renyvarughese on October 6, 2010.

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