tempmagic Prospero's Magic in Shakespeare's The Tempest Essay
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Prospero's Magic in The Tempest
In Shakespeare's The Tempest, Prospero's magic is the means that Prospero teaches his lessons to the plays various characters. Whether or not those lessons were learned or not is irrelevant. The main issue is that Prospero's character is indeed a complex one, and one that deserves much attention. Two essays that look at the complexity of Prospero and his magic are Stephen Miko's "Tempest," and Barbara Mowat's "Prospero, Agrippa, and Hocus Pocus." Both of these essays, in dealing with Prospero and his magic reveal things about Prospero that only enhance the mystery of his character.
Mowat's article deals more with the nature of Prospero's magic, and the type of character that it makes him.…show more content…
There is more to his character, however, as is seen by the other two positions offered by Mowat.
The second that she offers is that the magic that Prospero controls only allows him control of the physical world. Since he cannot directly influence the thoughts and beliefs of others, he is limited to mostly trickery, albeit impressive trickery. He has the power to conjure spirits, control the weather and raise the dead, but for all this earthly power, he cannot change the basic tenets of men. He has to use his powers to attempt to make the characters of the play change themselves. This sometimes works, and sometimes does not. This interpretation of Prospero is in contrast with the last tenet. Prospero appears at the beginning, according to his own words, to be only interested in gains beyond the world, yet his magic is limited to only things in the world (assuming that spirits are also physical in nature, and not outside the realm of reality.) This means that he is restricted to using earthly means to attain a goal above earthly gains. He is a strangely hypocritical person here. He rejects the world in pursuit of his studies, yet he is restricted by that same earthly limitation. This adds to the dimension of his character. Perhaps he is not as simplistic as he seems. This allows him the possibility of having conflicting goals within the play, as he seems to have.
Mowat's third tenet is what rounds out Prospero: the
Magic In The Tempest Essay
The Tempest, written in 1611, was one of William Shakespeare's last plays. It has a combination of superb characters, interesting settings, and a good plot line--all held together by the running theme of magic, and its ever-present importance. A closer examination of the magic in The Tempest, and the public's view of magic at the time, will give insight as to Shakespeare's choice of magic as a theme, and why it has made the play so successful and timeless.
Magic presented itself to Shakespeare as a controversial topic, as it had been the persecution of those believed to perform 'black magic,' (witches) that had been at the forefront of societal concerns since 1050. However, after 500 years of witch-hunts, a turning point occurred in 1584, at the publication of Reginald Scot's The Discouerie of Witchcrafte (The Discovery of Witchcraft). This book was the first major book to denounce witch-hunts and their ringleaders, and unquestionable the first book in English to actually hypothesize about the methods of these so-called witches. It contained one chapter of approximately twenty pages describing what we might view as unsophisticated, old-time magic tricks.
One would assume that it was this text, and texts succeeding this (The Art of Juggling, written by Samuel Ridd in 1610 also presented a few how-to's of magic) were probably not only what suggested the idea of using magic as a them to Shakespeare, but in addition, provided methods as to how the magic in the play might be accomplished.
Despite the fact that in retrospective analysis it is fairly clear that witches were nothing more that magicians with a slightly different presentation, audiences were not always aware of -and those that were, were rarely convinced by--the two aforementioned texts. Witches were still persecuted and witch-hunts did not actually stop until the end of the seventeenth century. Therefore, Shakespeare's use of magic was controversial, compounded by the fact that Prospero was presented in a largely good light--a move probably made as a political statement, as it is known that Shakespeare's plays were...
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