Magic and Power in the Tempest

I think that The Tempest is a play that many people can relate to. It’s got a political aspect for all those smart politically-inclined individuals, presents a wonderful social-commentary for fans of satire, and is wonderfully humorous to the layman looking for a good laugh. For me, what interests me most about The Tempest is the element of the supernatural in the play. In other words – MAGIC!

Magic in The Tempest can be seen as a kind of power that places Prospero at the top of the food chain. Through the use of his magical possessions – his robe, his staff, his book, and of course, his control over Ariel and the spirits of the island – Prospero is able to manipulate, deceive, and affect the other characters in the play. From a behind-the-scenes position, he influences character’s decisions, catalyzes the formation of certain alliances, causes some to get lost on the island, and holds others as his slaves. It seems like Prospero can do whatever he wants and that he is basically bending the storyline to his will.

In this way, it makes sense to draw the similarities between him and Shakespeare. Like a playwright, Prospero has essentially created a problem on purpose – he has summoned his enemies to his island via a huge storm – in order to achieve some goal. Through dramatizing a problem, a playwright can often expose many things about society, life, or whatever they want, I suppose, or even come up with some kind of solution. Similarly, in The Tempest, Prospero has set up a situation that he hopes will result in his getting revenge on his enemies and establishing greater power through getting Ferdinand to marry Miranda.

Again, I still have swirling thoughts about this whole issue, but I guess that makes sense – after all, it is The Tempest.

My Thoughts on Antigone

After somehow managing to get through The Republic, I was under the impression that I would never again have so many questions about a single piece of writing. As usual, I was wrong.

Looking back on Sophocles’ Antigone, I realize that there are many little things that confuse me now that I seem not to have noticed on my first read through. For example, in Kreon’s speech to the “elders” (pg. 27 – 28), he states his belief that “he who rules in a state and fails to embrace the best men’s counsels, but stays locked in silence and vague fear, is the worst man their is”. However, Kreon proves on multiple occasions to be exactly the man he is describing. He doesn’t take the advice of his son, nor of Tiresias the prophet, until it becomes clear to him that his own doom is approaching.  Why he would say this and then go so obviously against what he proclaims is his long-held belief (28) is beyond me.

The second major confusion I had concerns the opening dialogue between Antigone and Ismene (pg. 21 – 25). At first, Antigone is said to have called Ismeme to a secret meeting for a reason – to ask for her help in burying their dead brother Polyneices. However, when Ismene tells her that they should “be sensible” (23) and obey the king’s explicit orders not to, Antigone becomes really harsh toward her sister. She says that “even if [Ismene] were willing to ‘be senseless’, [Antigone] wouldn’t want the help [she] could give” (23). Antigone even goes so far as to state that she would hate her sister if she kept silent about the burial. Why so harsh? Seriously? Antigone’s attitude makes her very hard to relate to in my opinion, and honestly, I don’t like her very much.

There is also a variety of other aspects of Antigone that I still haven’t created an opinion about, but I’m hoping that you guys will be able to help me when I make my presentation tomorrow.

See ya then,



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