Theme Of Magic In The Tempest

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William Shakespeare’s The Tempest draws parallels between magic and power. Prospero uses his magic to induce suffering. He also uses magic to exert his will upon the actions of others. Upon giving up his magic, however, Prospero achieves redemption. Thus, Shakespeare uses Prospero’s magic to reveal the corruptive influence of power.
Prospero’s use of magic to cause anguish reflects the abuse that often coincides with power. He exhibits such abuse when he uses his magical prowess to subjugate Caliban. Upon hearing the magician’s threats, Caliban says, “No, pray thee. / I must obey: his art is of such power…” (1.2.372-373). Caliban’s pleading tone when he says “pray thee” demonstrates dramatic divergence from his previous line, in which he curses
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He overpowers free will through charms to benefit his own purposes. The magician tells Miranda, “Thou art inclined to sleep… I know thou canst not choose” (1.2.185-186). The certainty of his diction when he says “art inclined” reveals that he is controlling Miranda’s actions. He further emphasizes her lack of free will when he says she “canst not choose”. Prospero’s forceful exertion of his desires reveals his desensitization to using power to achieve his goals. Prospero also commands magical spirits, without taking their own needs into consideration. He tells Ariel, “Go take this shape / And hither come in't: go, hence with diligence” (1.2.303-304). His repeated use of imperative verbs relays his expectation of Ariel’s absolute obedience. Thus, Prospero’s self-centered attitude as seen through his control over spirits is rooted in his magical abilities. Moreover, Prospero uses illusions to control others, thereby furthering his own plans. Upon creating the tempest, he tells Miranda, “I have… so safely ordered that there is no soul… Betid to any creature” (1.1.26-29). He believes that his assurances of the shipwreck’s safety serve as justification for the creation of the tempest, which forced all the people on the ship onto the island. Prospero does not show any consideration towards the people on the boat, even those whom he did not want to enact his revenge upon. Thus, Prospero…show more content…
Prospero’s decision to relinquish magic coincides with his decision to forgive Alonso, Antonio, and Sebastian, freeing him from the burden of revenge. Moments prior to his declaration that he will renounce his magic, Prospero says, “Yet with my nobler reason 'gainst my fury / Do I take part: the rarer action is / In virtue than in vengeance…” (5.1.26-28). His “nobler reason” has a greater impact on his rational than his “fury”, resulting in his decision to free Alonso, Antonio, and Sebastian after harbouring years of ill will against them. Prospero’s use of alliteration places emphasis on “virtue” and “vengeance”, and the contrast between the positive and negative connotation of his diction proves his understanding of the importance of forgiveness. Therefore, his power no longer has a corruptive influence upon him. Soon after he gives up his magic, Prospero also sets Caliban free, which in turn frees himself from the burden of his hatred for Caliban. Prospero tells Caliban, “Go, sirrah, to my cell… as you look / To have my pardon, trim it handsomely” (5.1.292-293). Prospero’s reference to Caliban as “sirrah”, although not respectful, still shows a stark change from the insulting manner in which Prospero previously spoke to Caliban. Prospero’s offer to give Caliban “pardon” shows development in their relationship since their mutual hatred for each other at the beginning of the play. Prospero’s decision to give
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