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

Discuss the role and importance of magic in the first 3 acts of "The Tempest" by William Shakespeare

Extracts from this document...


Discuss the role and importance of magic in the first 3 acts of "The Tempest" by William Shakespeare "The Tempest" was the last play that Shakespeare wrote, and many people believe that the ideas for this production were taken from all his previous works. One of the main themes in the play is that of magic, it's use for 'good' and 'evil' and how this affects the society around it. At the time that the play was being written, the people of Europe took magic very seriously, for example witches were still being burnt at the stake. Magic plays a vital role in the play, determining the end of every scene, and indeed the fate of every character. The first 3 acts reveal the usage of this magic, on both ends of the spectrum... Act One Scene One sees the event that gives the play its name - the tempest itself. In hindsight we are aware of the magic that was used to create the storm, but at the time of it's happening we are led to believe that this is merely a natural occurrence. Admittedly nobody is killed, and we later find out that even the rest of fleet have been safely sent back to Naples with the illusion that the King's ship perished in the storm. ...read more.


Ariel is invisible as a product of her magic, playing a lute and sings to draw Ferdinand closer to Miranda. There is much debate about whether the following passage has been set up by Prospero and indeed manufactured it entirely to fit with his plan, or whether Shakespeare meant a romance to occur to lighten the mood of the play. Either way, it seems a little far-fetched that Ferdinand and Miranda appear to fall in love instantly, love at first sight, which would indicate that Prospero has had some intervention. The romance is also a key part of Prospero's plan, and we would assume that he would have had some involvement to make sure this all went smoothly. If this is the case, Prospero is again using his magic for his own personal gain - seeking revenge upon those who deposed him. Ferdinand starts to put up a fight with Prospero and "He draws and is charmed from moving". The stage directions indicate that Ferdinand is frozen to the spot to stop any harm from happening, but this is debatable as to whether it was actually necessary. ...read more.


Ariel is sent in as a harpy and the feast then vanishes, dashing all the hopes of the men in one fell swoop. The men are very confused by this occurrence. Ariel's long speech condemns the men and the spectacle of this mythical bird is done to scare the men. Prospero has set up everything for this moment, and carries it off in true style. Everything has been done to have the greatest effect, and whether this is truly humane is debateable. In all, the whole of the play depends entirely of magic, and if it were not for Prospero's interest in magic in the first place, none of this would have taken place. The supernatural powers that Prospero exerts and sometimes abuses are the very basis of the play, which is unusual for Shakespearean play. For example, in Macbeth the witches have some influence over Macbeth himself, but the power of free will can over-ride this, as it does on several occasions. The repeated use of magic can appear delightful if staged in the correct way, however if you read deeper into the play, it is apparent that Shakespeare wanted to represent the potential of supernatural powers if misused. The way he has done this works well to show the corruption of humans when they believe they are bigger than a magical, mysterious force. ...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's art implies self-control, and virtue. Even today, the word 'art' is usually used in conjunction with descriptions of worldly intellectuals, and these can only be found in places where civilisation is apparent. For this reason, we can consider Antonio's intelligence as an 'Art', although it is not as benevolent as Prospero's - Antonio uses his intelligence for evil causes.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    How does Shakespeare ensure that the theme of usurpation and its consequences runs throughout ...

    3 star(s)

    This also occurs with Antonio and Sebastian. Antonio has more intelligence out of the two; I can tell this for he has already usurped Prospero and he also realises that if he kills Alonzo, Sebastian will then become king and then he can take over.

  1. The Importance of Magic in The Tempest

    One of Ariel's key roles in The Tempest is to provide music; this is one of the main forms of magical effect within the play. His melodies/'airs that give delight,' are heard throughout the island and they can control the actions of the other characters.

  2. The Tempest- The Significance of the love story between Ferdinand and Miranda in the ...

    Milan, Shakespeare would want it to be portrayed as a happy occasion so that it's seen as a 'happily-ever-after' conclusion, rather than the audience not happy with the outcome of the play. His sensitivity is also shown through the way he speaks to Miranda.

  1. What is the importance of Prospero in the play The tempest

    Although retaining some vanity and therefore he is not perfect, he will certainly act in a manner befitting an ideal leader. As he speaks of the past, Prospero is no doubt reliving every single detail "in the dark backward and abysm of time".

  2. How far do you agree that The Tempest is a play about the use ...

    Despite this Prospero is a sympathetic character in that he was wronged by his misappropriating brother; however this has unfortunately made him more power-hungry, fuelled by rage in a quest for restoration of power. Firstly, Prospero presents himself as a victim of power, this is illustrated at the beginning of

  1. Character study of Prospero

    At times he is caring, protective, loving and concerned but at other times he is overprotective and controlling. He exploits his daughter to gain revenge and he tests his daughter's feelings for Ferdinand instead of letting her find out her feelings for herself.

  2. Presentation of Prospero in the Tempest

    Caliban, the son of the witch Sycorax, is the native on the island. On their arrival to the island, Caliban showed and helped Prospero and Miranda around their new surroundings. "And then I loved thee And showed thee all the qualities o'th' isle" We are able to witness a role reversal as Caliban has now become Prospero's slave.

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