Alienation of Prospero and Doctor Who

Although it is not very well known in the United States, BBC-produced Doctor Who is one of my absolute favorite television shows. The sci-fi program, which has been running on and off TV since the 1960s, centers on the Doctor and his time-travelling adventures through space. One of the reoccurring themes of the most recent series is alienation and loneliness, as the Doctor is the last surviving member of his species. The Doctor is also continually left alone due to his long life and amazing intelligence. As I finished the most recent series of the show, the Doctor reminded me of this course’s overall theme of alienation. In particular, the Doctor most reminded me of the first character we encountered in class: Prospero from The Tempest. Although these two characters are quite different, they are separated from everyone by their intelligence.

Prospero ‘s duties as duke were largely ignored because “I, thus neglecting worldly ends, all dedicated/
To closeness, and the bettering of my mind.” (Act I.ii) Prospero shirks his duties in order to learn, which leads to his exile. However, without his learnings, he would not have been able to earn his dukedom back. Nonetheless, he is still set apart from his subjects and his peers. The Doctor’s abilities also segregate him from everyone around him, as he describes that “I can feel it. The turn of the Earth. The ground beneath our feet is spinning at 1,000 miles an hour and the entire planet is hurtling around the sun at 67,000 miles an hour, and I can feel it. We’re falling through space, you and me, clinging to the skin of this tiny little world, and if we let go… That’s who I am.” (1.1, Rose). Although this isn’t book learning, the Doctor’s senses are constantly overloaded. Since he is the last of his species, there is no one he can rely on for comfort, or even conversation about the experience – he is on his own, just like Prospero.

Prospero and the Doctor have very wide fundamental differences – the Doctor is vehemently anti-slavery, for one – but they are still completely alienated. Luckily for Prospero, his intelligence is able to win him back is dukedom. As for the Doctor, we will hopefully have many more years to come to see how he turns out!


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