The Tempest: Act 5, Scene 1, l.182-185:
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world
That has such people in't!
'Tis new to thee.
Which viewpoint, Prospero's or Miranda's, does the play as a whole tend to support?
When Miranda makes this comment about the people that have arrived on the island, she does of course make it as a person who has spent nearly all of her life on the island, with only Prospero, Caliban and Ariel around her. The brave new world she refers to is the world off the island, which would in fact usually be referred to as the old world, places that most people know, such as Milan. When Prospero tells Miranda that it is only new to her, he is making this point, but not only this point. He is also in some ways passing judgement over this new world that he knew so well. The judgement he gives can be taken in many different ways, depending on how the line is delivered. Prospero could be worried for Miranda, because she is naive and does not know the ways of the world. He could be sorrowful because of the bad things that often happen, or angry because of what happened to him when he was banished to the island. He could also, as he later suggests, be tired, and wondering if he can cope with going back to the "new world". However he means the line, it is clear that Miranda is looking forward to her new world, and is so far impressed by the people from it she has met. Whether she knows that one of them is the man that sent her and her father to die is unknown, but if she does realise this, it does not have any effect on her amazement. Prospero is taking the opposite side to this assessment of the new world, since he knows that not all of it is good, and not all the people in it are good.
A lot of whether this new world will be a good place or not depends on the nature of the people living there. Since the audience has been watching the people of Milan and Naples who have been washed ashore, we can tell what their behaviour is like. Prospero also has this luxury, and that of knowing what the people were like before he was thrown out of Milan. Miranda, however, has no idea as to what has been going on on the island, apart from what Ferdinand has been doing. The one new person she has met, she has fallen in love with, perhaps because he is the only person she has met, and so her view of the people of the new world is probably clouded by this. Prospero knows this, and so is perhaps right in his assessment of the new world.
However, just as Miranda is biased by the fact that she has met only one person, and he is good, Prospero is also biased. His judgement is clouded by the recollection of what his brother did to him so many years ago, when he threw him out of Milan and left him to die. This is indicated in Act 1, scene 2, when Prospero first tells Miranda about the time before they left Milan, and how they came to be living on the island. As Prospero talks about his brother Antonio, it is clear that his anger at him is very strong. Whenever he mentions Antonio to Miranda, he cannot continue the story, but adds something about him, for instance in line 67, "thy uncle, call'd Antonio - I pray thee mark me, that a brother should be so perfidious", and again in line 78, "Thy false uncle - dost thou attend me?" Almost the whole of Prospero's story, from lines 53 to 186, is taken up with him telling Miranda what a bad man Antonio is. The only reprieve is at the end, where he talks of the "noble Neapolitan, Gonzalo", who supplied Prospero with his books, and some water and food. If Prospero's speech was the only evidence of what the new world was like, it would seem that it was full of men like Antonio, who plotted and schemed to overthrow those in power to grasp it themselves, and that there were only a few good men like Gonzalo. This part of the play especially is very much controlled by Prospero, and so it is not surprising that it shows his viewpoint. In fact, since the play takes place on the island, which is under Prospero's control, it would not be surprising if the only point of view that came across in the play was his.
Prospero's view of human nature is supported once again in Act 2, scene 2, when Stephano and Trinculo come across the monster Caliban. Trinculo is the first to come across Caliban, and taking him for some kind of fish monster, his immediate intention is to put him on show for his own profit. He then makes a generalisation about the people who live in Miranda's "new world", specifically in England, when he says "When they will not give a doit to relieve a lame beggar, they will lay out ten to see a dead Indian." This indicates that most of these people are uncaring and selfish, more interested in their entertainment than in helping someone in need, something which is typical of human nature everywhere. They are hardly worthy of the admiration Miranda gives them when she talks about the brave new world. When Stephano comes along, he has exactly the same thought as Trinculo did, wanting to take the monster for himself, this time to give to an emperor to gain favour. This again indicates that people are, in general, greedy and selfish. In fact, this is again backed up, when in the last scene Antonio has the same thought about Caliban, and describes him as "a plain fish, and no doubt marketable". Another characteristic is revealed in the next section, where Caliban takes Stephano and Trinculo or Gods. Instead of trying to dissuade him from believing this misunderstanding, Stephano and Trinculo prefer to make him think that they are some unearthly beings, joking that they are "o'th' moon". They then make him swear allegiance to them, which he is only too happy to do to be free from the slavery of Prospero. To be fair to Stephano and Trinculo, they are probably quite drunk by this time, from the bottle of wine that Stephano has rescued. However, their behaviour is still probably indicative of that of the rest of their kind, which supports Prospero's point of view. Interestingly enough, this exchange between Stephano, Trinculo and Caliban is one of the few things that Prospero has not planned. Everything else on the island he controls either personally or through his spirit Ariel. Since he is not controlling what happens to these three, they may well be the best exponents of the attitude of people in general, and even they show that they are greedy, selfish and power hungry.
When the trio appear again, in act 3, scene 2, they portray another negative feature of themselves. Having shown that they are drunkards, and being even more drunk than before, they start squabbling amongst themselves. When Trinculo starts to mock Caliban, calling him a "debauched fish" among other things, Caliban demands he be bitten to death, and Stephano is quick to threaten Trinculo with hanging. When Ariel starts to interfere, things turn violent and Stephano beats Trinculo. Having threatened each other with death, talk turns to Prospero, and Caliban asks Stephano to kill him, the man who stole his island from him. Although he has been asked to kill a man who has done nothing to him, Stephano agrees immediately, and even makes plans for Prospero's daughter to become his wife. Having given his word, though, that he will kill Prospero within the next half hour, Stephano then seems to almost forget about the agreement, engrossed in his vision of power, and when he is reminded by Caliban, simply says "that shall be by and by". In this scene, therefore, Stephano, Trinculo and Caliban have shown themselves to be drunkards, violent, eager to kill a man two of them have no quarrel with, and men who do not keep their word. If these men are typical of those in the new world, Prospero is quite justified in saying his warning words to Miranda, a girl who is naive and does not know or understand that people can be underhand and plot against each other. It is dramatic irony that Prospero and we can all see that this is going on, but Miranda is blissfully unaware of the actions of these men, caught up as she is with he
So, although there are some examples of the kind of peopler fiance. In seeing all of these new people in act 5, she is so amazed by everything that she forgets all that her father told her about Antonio, the warnings he gave that he was an evil man.
However, act 5 does contain some actions and people that support Miranda's viewpoint. Gonzalo, the one good man in Prospero's tale at the beginning, turns up again, and Prospero is pleased to see him. Alonso is suitably repentant for what he has done in the past, showing that some men are still good in the end. However, Antonio and Sebastian, the original plotters, do not seem sorry for what they have done in the past, even though Prospero forgives them both, "at this time" at least.
expects to find in her "brave new world
", notably Gonzalo
and now Alonso
, the play as a whole is full of men who are more concerned with their own agendas than helping anyone else, and are not afraid to do anything necessary to get what they want. Prospero
's warning words, however they are meant, seem justified. However, it must be remembered that the play takes place on an island that is totally under the control of Prospero
, and also that the people who are shipwrecked are there so they can repent for what they have done to Prospero
in the past. Therefore it is hardly surprising that those who have done wrong continue to do wrong now, and that they seem to follow Prospero
's low expectations of them, given that they are under his power from the moment they come onto the island. Even Stephano
, who are free from him at the beginning, are led astray by Ariel. In the end, the viewpoint of the man whose island it is is supported by the actions and words of those who are upon it.