The Tempest Themes & Symbolism

This Study Guide consists of approximately 182 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Tempest.
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Magic

Magic has a strong presence throughout The Tempest and pervades nearly every action in the play. While this quality informs the work with a fairy tale atmosphere, it is important to recognize that in Shakespeare's time the topic of magic was treated with more seriousness than in our own. Some Renaissance scholars, such as Henry Cornelius Agrippa (of whose writings Shakespeare may have been cognizant), possessed much expertise in the subject of magic and wrote books describing the different sources of magical power. In simple terms, Shakespeare's audience would have been aware of two types of magic, the white (good) and the black (evil). In this scheme Prospero likely would have been deemed a theurgist, or practicer of white magic-a force derived from divine sources and dealing in the control of natural elements. This form of magic is said to have affinities with the natural sciences, as...

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This section contains 1,324 words
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Shakespeare for Students
The Tempest from Shakespeare for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.