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Discuss the importance of magic in 'The Tempest' and how the audience might respond to this.

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Introduction

Discuss the importance of magic in 'The Tempest' and how the audience might respond to this. Magic is central to The Tempest. First, it provides the mechanism for the action to be seen by the audience and for set pieces. Second, it enables Prospero to have the power to achieve his project. The relationship between magic and the good use of power is key to the underlying meaning of the play. Shakespeare uses magic to create the play's plot. For example he uses magic to get all the characters together by getting Prospero to create 'the tempest', rather than coincidence, like in some of his early plays such as 'The Comedy of Errors'. A contemporary audience may think the play unrealistic because of the magic in the play, but Shakespeare's original audience might have been more open to witchcraft and magic, than coincidence. Shakespeare also uses the magic to create specific dramatic effects. For example, Prospero uses his magic to crate a play within the play to celebrate Miranda and Ferdinand's betrothal. The scene was particularly designed to appeal to an audience of the English court of King James as it was in the form of a masque. A masque is a set piece with dance and music - very popular at the time. Another example is when the magic produced by Ariel - a spirit that works for Prospero - contributes to the comic effect of the scenes with Trinculo, Stephano and Caliban. ...read more.

Middle

He uses magic to encourage this. Miranda came to the island at a very young age and remembers very little of life before. The only men she has seen are her father and Caliban - who is hardly a man but a beast as Trinculo refers to him "What have we here - man or fish? Dead or alive?..." Prospero is aware of this and knows that the next man Miranda sees she is very likely to fall in love with. Prospero makes sure this man is Ferdinand and gets Ariel to entice Ferdinand toward Miranda. Sure enough it worked and the pair almost immediately fell in love. "I might call him a thing divine, for nothing natural I never saw so noble" "At the first sight they have chang'd eyes" Prospero says this and an original audience would have recognised this as true love. However, a contemporary audience may see this differently. They may feel that Ferdinand is simply the first man Miranda saw and that it can't be true love, the audience would question how long the 'love' would last. Prospero's magic and powers do have limitations. He has been able to control over the natural world, but his "rough magic" as he calls it does not have the force to affect the hearts and minds who came under his influence. ...read more.

Conclusion

He even becomes ashamed of himself and the extremes to which he pursued his revenge. This makes him a stronger and more appealing character to the audience. Prospero then releases them from his spell, and extends his forgiveness. When everything is restored to natural order by the end of the play, Prospero vows to give up his magic. "...This rough magic I here abjure; and when I have requir'd Some heavenly music - which even now I do - To work mine end upon their senses that this airy charm is for I'll break my staff..." Magic plays an important part in the Tempest, it sets the scene and it is unpredictable these things excite and interest an audience. Prospero, the magician manipulates and enslaves characters through his magical powers seeking revenge and by the end of the fourth act is abusing his power. By the end of the play the former magician is now powerless: his staff broken, his books drowned and Ariel free. Prospero was worried that he nearly abused his power and when he returns to be a Duke and no longer needs his magic. Just like when he stopped using his magic in order to be a father and comfort Miranda and explain why he had caused the tempest: "Tis time I should inform thee farther. Lend thy hand And pluck my magic garment from me. Lie there my art. Wipe thou thine eyes; have comfort." ?? ?? ?? ?? English Coursework Alfred Chambers Page 1 of 3 ...read more.

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