Throughout this play, we can see many attempts by the characters to establish their own form of rule. Prospero’s brother having taken over the thrown is a key catalyst that causes Prospero to search for or create a new kind of kingdom/government. Prospero exhibits his control over Ariel and over Miranda in an attempt to feel more powerful. This is hypocritical of Prospero since we know that he felt betrayed by his brother for taking over control.
Ariel reminds Prospero that he promised to grant him freedom, and Prospero replies, “Dost thou forget / From what a torment I did free thee?” He sets himself up as a sort of savior to Ariel so that Ariel will retreat back under Prospero’s control. He is playing mind games with Ariel, trying to twist reality to his own benefit and make Ariel believe he is somehow helping him by enslaving him.
In her own way, Miranda attempts to exert her own control over Caliban. In 1.2, she says the following:
“But thy vile race,
Though thou didst learn, had that in’t which good natures
Could not abide to be with; therefore wast thou
Deservedly confined into this rock,
Who hadst deserved more than a prison.”
She says when Caliban uttered phrases that didn’t make sense, she helped him understand: “I endowed thy purposes with words that made them known.” Miranda criticizes Caliban’s lack of understanding and blames it on his race. She places herself above Caliban and says that it was pity that drove her to try to help him learn.
Caliban has attempted to rape Miranda. This is his attempt at retaliating against Prospero and his invasion of the island. I think the text says that if he had succeeded in his attempt, he would have populated the island with more “Calibans.” Here we can see Caliban trying to create a sort of community/”army” of sorts that is on his side and will help him “fight” against Prospero’s invasion.
The power struggle on this island can be viewed as a microcosm exhibiting the effects of the increase in exploration of new lands. The inherent struggle that arises when a country tries to colonize a new land is portrayed throughout this play. This is perhaps showing the ego-trips that people can go on when they enter into new territory and want to establish themselves as leaders and rulers.