The Tempest and Shakespeare and the Magic

I think it was somewhere in the introduction of the play that the author mentioned the common belief that certain aspects of the┬ácentral character Prospero were intended to mirror certain characteristics of Shakespeare himself. In particular, the final farewell speech that Prospero gives is often thought of as Shakespeare’s final farewell to play writing as well.┬áMagic plays a huge role in the play in influencing the people’s opinions, thoughts, and emotions. Additionally, magic is seen as a craft that is learned and perfected, rather than an innate ability. Propsero as perfected his craft and soo then if Shakespeare is characterizing himself as Propsero, then is he directly comparing himself to a magician? I’m sure more people would agree with him than not, but is this final play then an attempt leave his playwriting career with an elevated status? Is Shakespeare calling his own work magic??


  1. I think in looking at Prospero as Shakespeare himself the magic, like you said, can be equated to Shakespeare’s skill in playwriting. He revolutionized the theatre and added a great deal to the English language. His characters and plots are still used enormously today, so in that sense I guess one could consider his play crafting a type of magic? It transcended the ages bringing not only a great deal to his own era but to every one following it. But no one could have possibly known that at the time… maybe he was just very egotistical about his work?

  2. Good question! I think we can consider Shakespeare’s own work to be paralleled to “magic” in the sense that the theatre can do similar things to what Prospero does (with Ariel’s help): it can give people illusions, make them think things are happening when they really aren’t, etc. Prospero puts on plays for some of the characters in the text (Miranda and Ferdinand, especially, but also when Ariel and the other spirits appear as Furies to Antonio, Alonso, and Sebastian, condemning their crimes for usurping Prospero), and in doing this he’s not really doing that much different than the storm (which wasn’t really happening). that’s how I connect Shakespeare’s work to magic, anyway!

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