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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?

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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. 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. ...read more.


Images of coldness, darkness and harshness of nature show that the island can be a difficult and dangerous place to live on:-"The sharp wind of the north", and "Sulphurous roaring, dreadful thunder claps". This range of personification shows how severe the weather can be on the island. In Elizabethan times, many people believed in witches, magic and sorcery. During this time, witches were believed to have been in a pact with satan and capable of inflicting harm upon humans. A witch would also have a mark that identified her as a witch:- a 3rd nipple and tails were common. A witch also had an animal of some kind which could be satan in animal form. Witchcraft trails peaked in the 1600s, with famous cases including Alice Nutter in Lancashire(1612) and the Essex witch trails(1570-1600). Puritans also believed the devil was as real as God. Everyone was faced with the struggle between the powers of good and evil, but satan would select the weakest individuals, women, children, and the insane to carry out his work. Those who followed satan were considered witches. Witchcraft was one of the greatest crimes a person could commit in those days, punishable by death. Also witches were believed to have special powers of evil, like:- they could speak with the devil, and with his help they could communicate with the dead, some could also see into the future. Witches could also poison people and make them fall ill by using spells & potions and they could even kill. ...read more.


But in Act 5 Scene 1, Prospero's language towards magic starts to get negative, especially in his speech where he finally announces that he will give up magic, he uses lots of alliteration and personification in this speech to describe what he has done and why he thinks he should give up magic. In conclusion to this essay, in Act 1 Scene 2 Prospero's thoughts and attitudes to magic were very positive, he thought he was using magic for a good purpose as he felt in control of everything, but in Act 5 Scene 1, Prospero's thoughts and attitudes to magic turn negative as he has realised he has used his magic for bad purposes, and he also believes it is the end of his magic rein, so he decides to give up magic and go back to his normal life, like he was before he was sent to the island. This all relates to attitude to magic at the time because in Shakespeare's days, everyone believed there was God, satan, magic, witches, sorcerers, wizards and evil, magic at the time was considered very dangerous, and people believed anyone who knew magic was a witch and had satan inside them, but as you move on in time, less and less people believe in magic and similar things, like nowadays in our society practically no-one believes in witches and magic and wizards and similar things, because we all have moved on in time, and these things are of a less importance to most of us, as we do not have as much time and belief to worry about these types of things. ...read more.

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