• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Discuss the presentation of the supernatural in The Tempest and Dr. Faustus

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Discuss the presentation of the supernatural in ?The Tempest? and ?Dr. Faustus? As per the dictionary definition, the term ?supernatural? is defined as something ?unable to be explained by science or the laws of nature; of, relating to, or seeming to come from magic, a god, etc.? (Merriem Webster Dictionary) [1]. Theatre goers were somewhat fearful in regards to the topic of the supernatural ? ??The Globe play-house shuddered at the appearance of Hamlet?s ghost, for it was true, that this might be either Denmark?s spirit or the very devil in a pleasing shape?? [2]. This idea of the supernatural was something that was embraced during the 16th century, especially for those who were educated. Though magic and the belief in the supernatural was forbidden by the clerical, Renaissance based society of the time, Black and White Magic were the predominant types of magic that were practised by many. During this time however, for anyone persecuted for practising magic, it was punishable by death, as society was quite God-conscious. As the biblical reference suggests: ?Let no one be found among you who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord.? (Deuteronomy 18:9-12) [3]. Statements such as this, as well as being moral tokens for people of the time, haunt the character of Faustus just before his damnation, ...read more.

Middle

Here I am?). We as an audience question whether Prospero uses Black Magic ? in the same way the renaissance community accused John Dee of conjuring Black magic. Though Prospero uses his magic for what we essentially view as pure and positive means, the fact that he at one point, in essence ?awakens? Ariel ?from the dead;? ?Graves at my command have wak?d their sleepers?, is an intrinsic act of Black Magic. This makes Prospero?s dimensions of magic questionable. However as RS. Ellwood (2009) states, it can be counter-argued that ?Prospero?s magic is White magic, not Black. He summons up no evil spirits, makes no compact with the devil, and does not jeopardize his soul. The forces he commands are these of nature? [5]. Faustus? magic is quite simply Black Magic; he sells his soul to the devil. Where Shakespeare alleviates Prospero?s rise back to supremacy, Marlowe attempts to allude Faustus? downfall. As A.Papahagi (2009) states ?The spirits he traffics with cannot offer him more than a theatre of illusions, and fireworks? [4]. It is this ?theatre of illusions? that lead to his failure to repent, and ultimately, his downfall. He is blind to the fact that Mephastopheles has all the power. The personification of the ?seven deadly sins? presents an allegory for Faustus. During the medieval times, the audience could instantly identify each sin on stage as this was a long standing tradition almost ? a characters? attachment with the differing sins would instigate whether they were with God, or the devil. ...read more.

Conclusion

Black Magic alone poses an inextricable paradox to heaven. Both Prospero and Faustus are ?power hungry.? Prospero has lost all his power since his exile, but he exercises his newfound power on all the inhabitants of the island: ?The pine and cedar: graves at my command have waked their sleepers, oped, and let 'em forth by my so potent art.? Faustus has a yearning for a similar type of power also but exercises his yearn in what are arguably, pointless ways ? tormenting the pope?s friars whilst invisible for instance. Certainly Prospero and Faustus are both rapt by the concept of being all-powerful. Prospero is looked to as a superior figurehead by all the characters; ?Pardon, master; I will be correspondent to command and do my spiriting gently? (Ariel) and ?You taught me language; and my profit on't? (Caliban). Prospero?s political exile leads him to become his own conjurer whereas Faustus - exiled by magic, becomes a puppet for Lucifer. Both The Tempest and Dr.Faustus are morality plays that indeed bring to mind some moral lessons; Marlowe uses the supernatural to contemplate the idea of predestination ? Are we as readers really subject to our own free will, if we cannot learn from the demise of Faustus? Shakespeare on the other hand, uses the supernatural as a metaphorical tool for his own social commentary, even inferring ??let your indulgence set me free?? through Prospero. Shakespeare?s indulgence of the supernatural is for the sake of entertaining, whilst Marlowe?s depiction of it, is based on this thesis of religious philosophy. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level The Tempest section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level The Tempest essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Nature vs. Art in The Tempest

    3 star(s)

    Prospero is referring to his magic as 'Art' continually throughout the play. This seems to suggest that his magic is creative and harnesses a large amount of power. He uses his magic for more benevolent purposes, especially when compared to Sycorax, who serves the demon Setebos, a 'natural' God from the Carribean.

  2. Discuss the presentation and significance of Caliban in 'The Tempest'

    habitants on the island "All the infections that the sun sucks up" (Acts 2, Scene 2, L1). The use of negative language in the quote emphasises Caliban's view that his natural habitat is being overthrown by unnatural habitants. The metaphor in the quote describing the un-natural habitants as 'infections' adds

  1. Shakespeares 'The Tempest' as a Study of Colonialism.

    Prospero is a "learned man, strong through years of study" (Gilbert 73) as an exile on his remote island Shakespeare's benign sorcerer comes from a much newer and more enlightened tradition, Renaissance humanism. Prospero's depiction as a moral character derives from previous dramatic depictions of academic magicians. . . .

  2. The Significance of the Island Setting - The Tempest and Robinson Crusoe.

    From isolation to expansion, Crusoe converts fear into bravery. Similarly, the island helps Crusoe convert from pagan into God-fearing. Before his sea adventures begin, religion has little significance to Crusoe. The lack of neither God's nor his father's blessing do not concern him when he decides to "board a ship bound for London" (Defoe, 5).

  1. Presentation of Prospero in the Tempest

    aid of magic, causes him to influence and control the happenings on the island. Conversely, Shakespeare presents the audience with a character who is reformed at the end of the play. He relieves his possession of magic, presents his altruistic nature, and is able to forgive everybody, as well as

  2. "Explore the presentation of authority and inferiority in 'The Tempest'"

    Caliban does swear and curse but is usually stopped by Prospero, as we know he only uses this language in front of Caliban. Prospero speech is in verse and Caliban in prose the image of inferiority and superiority is portrayed almost immediately.

  1. Explore the presentation of authority and inferiority in 'The Tempest'.

    When Prospero asks Ariel if she has done what he ordered here to do: "Hast thou, spirit, performed to point the tempest that I bade thee?" Ariel replies with: "To every article". Ariel shows that she has done all Prospero has asked her to do and even goes on to

  2. The Tempest has been read by some as a Christian allegory. Examine how Shakespeare ...

    We could draw a parallel to the ministry of Jesus, where he literally calmed storms and broke down barriers between social classes. This would be considered radical in Jacobean England. Furthermore, the staging of this scene adds to the dramatic impact.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work