The theme of magic in "The Tempest"

Categories: Robinson Crusoe

The theme of magic

How is the theme of magic presented in Act 1 Scene 2 of The Tempest and Act 5 Scene 1. What was the Elizabethan attitude to magic at the time? In this essay I will analyze the theme of magic in Act 1 Scene 2 and in Act 5 Scene 1 of the Tempest, and I will also look at Elizabethan attitude to magic at the time. The theme of magic was very important in the 1600s in the Elizabethan age. James I believed in the Divine Rights of Kings, he thought that he was God's voice on Earth.

He thought that if God was represented on Earth, then so was evil.

People believed that witches contained evil, women were dunked/stoned/hung if they were found out to be a witch, as it was seen as ridding the world of evil, England was religious:- good v evil. This all relates to the Tempest because the Tempest is all about magic, it is set on a magic island and the main character(Prospero) uses magic spells to achieve his intensions.

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Also the Tempest meant in Shakespeare's days a very angry stormy temper, it also meant a magical process changing things into gold.

The play the Tempest is about Prospero the Duke of Milan & his daughter(Miranda), they were one day chucked onto a boat, they were meant to drown, but Gonzalo a dear friend of Prospero supplied them with food, drink & books on the boat, Antonio, Prospero's brother and Alonso the King ordered them to be put onto the boat.

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They then arrive on a strange magical island, Prospero learns magic over the time, and Miranda, his daughter grows up, Prospero then gets King Alonso & Antonio & Gonzalo & other servants to come to the island by causing a storm when they are on a boat.

He then talks to them, and he realises that it is better to forgive them rather than just get his revenge on Alonso & Antonio, so Prospero forgives Antonio & Alonso and he thanks his old friend Gonzalo for all his help. Prospero then decides to give up magic and wants to return to his normal life and go back to Milan. After all this Prospero, Miranda, Ferdinand, Gonzalo, Alonso and Antonio all return to Milan, and Prospero becomes the Duke again. The 2 scenes that I will be analyzing are Act 1 Scene 2, and Act 5 Scene 1.

How the theme of magic is presented in Act 1 Scene 2.

In Act 1 Scene 2 the theme of magic is mainly presented by Ariel, a magic spirit that flys around and is a servant of Prospero as he freed Ariel from the evil spell that the monstrous witch Sycorax put on Ariel. Ariel causes the storm that caused the boat with Alonso & Antonio to crash onto shore. Prospero likes to order Ariel to perform magic for him:-"Hast thou spirit performed to point the tempest that I bade thee? ". This shows that Prospero is a very powerful magician who can even control the elements, it also shows that Prospero uses Ariel to perform magic for him and he can even control Ariel.

Prospero, oneday reminds Ariel about Sycorax & evil black magic:-"Hast thou forgotten the evil witch Sycorax? ". This was to remind Ariel of Sycorax and how she used her magic in an evil way intended for bad purposes and how badly she treated Ariel, it was also to remind Ariel that Prospero uses his magic for good purposes, not for evil. Prospero also uses his magic to control people less intelligent than himself:-"He, that Caliban, whom now I keep in service". This shows that Prospero keeps the hideous Caliban as his slave and servant to perform various duties for him.

Caliban comes from the world Cannibal, this means someone who eats human flesh and enjoys it, this is because in the 1600s and onwards many explorers were sent out to explore places like Africa, and they came back with sickening, strange stories of the people who inhabited the country and what they did, and many thought that the local people were monsters, because of the way they lived, so they decided they were all Cannibals. Oneday Prospero has to use his magical powers to threaten Ariel into continuing his duty:-"If thou more murmust, I will rend an oak, and peg there in his knotty entrails till".

This shows that Prospero is threatening Ariel to continue his service until Prospero decides to set Ariel free, at the end of his service. Prospero oneday tells the story of Caliban to his daughter, and how Caliban's mother, Sycorax used evil magic to achieve her goals:-"Mischiefs manifold and sorceries terrible". This shows what Prospero thinks of how Sycorax used her magic, and Prospero does not approve of this, plus this also highlights the multitude of evil acts that Sycorax performed.

Islands are often viewed as magical places in films and literature because islands are enchanted, strange and magical places away from civilisation, and where strange and mysterious acts happen, where as on normal land these acts would not occur. An island is any piece of land that is completely surrounded by water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atolls are called islets. A key or cay is another name for a small island or islet. An island in a river or lake may be called an eyot.

Two types of islands

There are 2 main types of islands:- Continental islands, and Oceanic islands. There are also artificial islands. A group of geographically related islands are called an archipelago. Some films/novels that are set on islands are:- Robinson Crusoe, this is a novel by Daniel Defoe, first published in 1719 and sometimes regarded as the first novel in English. The book is a fictional autobiography of the title character, an English castaway who spends 28 years on a remote island, encountering savages, captives and mutineers before being rescued.

The story was influenced by the real life events of Alexander Selkirk, a Scottish castaway marooned on a Pacific island for 4 years. Also, Survivor was a popular reality TV game show produced throughout many countries in the world, in this show contestants are isolated on a island far away from any kind of civilisation and are given different challenges to do for cash, e. g build a straw hut, where they can sleep in, they are meant to survive for 1 month on the island, and the person who took up the most challenges wins the prize of up to $1 million.

Updated: Nov 01, 2022
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The theme of magic in "The Tempest". (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

The theme of magic in "The Tempest" essay
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