Explore the Use of Magic in ‘the Tempest’

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Shakespeare Coursework – The Tempest
Question: Explore the use of magic in ‘The Tempest’

William Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ highlights a variety of different types of magic. Magic is an important part of this play because not only does it literally give Prospero his revenge but it also shows who has power and who does not have power. Magic is important in ‘The Tempest’ because basically without it there is no play. Shakespeare uses the magic to engage his audience and to almost make the audience believe that magic does really exist. The characters are affected by many different types of magic in many different ways. The character in the play with the most control over magic is Prospero. So in the eyes of the audience he is the most powerful person in the play. An example of magic affecting the characters is when the hierarchy was altered on the boat, the boatswain started to order and insult the courtiers, this is shown when the boatswain says to Gonzalo ‘Out of our way, I say!’ (I.I.24-25). This shows the audience that the hierarchy has altered because it seems unusual for an officer of the ship to be commanding a king and an old councillor who is assembly in a higher post Another example of magic affecting the characters is when Ariel puts the shipwreck survivors to sleep. We Ariel does this because he enters the stage ‘playing solemn music’ and all of a sudden the shipwreck survivors are feeling drowsy – this is shown when Gonzalo says ‘Will you laugh me asleep, for I am very heavy?’ (II.I.184). The effect on the characters is that they are not only unaware of their surroundings, but also vulnerable to the islands secrets and their own party. However not all the magic is bad. There are some illustrations of magic that are conjured to make the atmosphere more ‘happy’. Iris the goddess conjures a magic party with nymphs and naiads, to liven up the mood for Ferdinand and Miranda’s marriage blessing. This as most of the magic is benign. Prospero uses the...
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