• 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...

Introduction

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.

Middle

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.

Conclusion

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)

    There is evidence of this in lines 150-152. Although what he does not know is that Sebastian and Antonio would be grateful if he did just that. This was when Prospero decided to take his to see Ferdinand and Miranda. It is then revealed to Alonzo that the two are to be wed.

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

    The reality of the situation that Tempest(s) imagines does not only confront immigrants or refugees attempting to find security or asylum in contemporary Europe. Our individual perspectives on questions of gender, class, race, and sexuality are also contested areas of social and cultural negotiation.

  2. 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.

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

    kind of situation, or the nurturing of loving Miranda and wanting to make a good impression. It becomes debateable whether his motives are nature or nurture. Ferdinand does also have a sensitive side to his personality which we see when he grieves for his father (Alonso)

  2. How far do you agree that Shakespeare presents status as the greatest enemy to ...

    This situation also enables Antonio to persuade Sebastian to kill Alonso. Whilst Sebastian is articulate, from the examination of other relationships in the play, it seems that that is not necessarily enough when the one of the characters in the conversation is of a higher social status than the other.

  1. Presentation of Prospero in the Tempest

    "Enter MIRANDA[,] and PROSPERO [at a distance unseen]." Shakespeare uses stagecraft to show Prospero's presence, as he watches Ferdinand and Miranda whilst unseen. By doing this, Shakespeare emphasises the importance of Prospero's character. He is present in scenes even though he may not be directly involved with what is occurring.

  2. Free essay

    At the Opening of Act V of `The Tempest` Prospero decides to set aside ...

    Another technique that Shakespeare has uses to convince the audience in `The Tempest` that Prospero has truly changed for the good, is bringing music into the play. At the very point when Prospero renounces his magic he demands some heavenly music, "But this rough magic / I here abjure.

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