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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: February ::
Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0534  Monday, 25 February 2002

[1]     From:   Brian Haylett <
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        Date:   Friday, 22 Feb 2002 16:10:30 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0518 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest

[2]     From:   Thomas Larque <
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        Date:   Friday, 22 Feb 2002 17:58:29 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0518 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest

[3]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Friday, 22 Feb 2002 10:33:48 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0518 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest

[4]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Saturday, 23 Feb 2002 03:32:06 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0518 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brian Haylett <
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Date:           Friday, 22 Feb 2002 16:10:30 +0000
Subject: 13.0518 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0518 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest


>Nowhere in the text is there an unequivocal moment of Prospero
>performing magic; on the other hand, there are moments left and right
>where Ariel is performing magic on Prospero's behalf.

Well, perhaps Ariel is just an externalization of Prospero's magical
side, as Caliban is of his untamed side? ' Forbidden Planet' had a
point.

Brian Haylett

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas Larque <
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Date:           Friday, 22 Feb 2002 17:58:29 -0000
Subject: 13.0518 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0518 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest

> My ultimate argument is that *Prospero is not aware* of the loss of
>his magical powers, and Ariel provides the magic for him out
>of...loyalty?

> When Prospero claims that his "high charms work" (3.3.88) with the
> vanishing food for Alonso, it is the charms of Ariel that have done the
> work. As for the masque, Prospero himself says, "Thou [Ariel] and
>thy meaner fellows your last service / Did worthily perform, and I
>must use you / In such another trick" (4.1.35-7), indicating that the
>trick of the masque does not have to generate from his personal magical
>powers

> Nowhere in the text is there an unequivocal moment of Prospero
> performing magic; on the other hand, there are moments left and right
> where Ariel is performing magic on Prospero's behalf.

I am no expert, but I feel that this argument shows rather a lack of
understanding of Renaissance views of magic.  Doctor Faustus, for
example, is clearly considered a magician in Marlowe's play because he
is able to first summon and then command (if not quite control)
Mephistopheles.  I don't think that Faustus performs any other magical
feat by his own power, but his ability to summon and negotiate with
devils is power enough to allow him to obtain all of his desires through
magical means.

Prospero's magic, then, is similarly based on his ability to summon and
command spirits *including Ariel* to use their own powers on his
behalf.  The fact that Prospero is able to release Ariel at a time of
his choosing, something which Ariel apparently desires but has no
control over, proves that Prospero's powers are still present and
absolutely effective.  Caliban supports such a reading by claiming that
Prospero's power lies in his books and that once they are destroyed he
is "but a sot, as I am, nor hath not / One spirit to command".  If
Prospero had no power then it seems likely that Ariel would not obey him
- for loyalty or any other reason - and Ariel acts as servant or slave
entirely because Prospero has the magical power to keep him bound and to
make him perform tasks on his behalf.  This is - in my opinion - the
only magical power that Prospero needs to be a great magician and able,
like Faustus, to fulfill all his desires by magical means.

The idea that a magician must be able to "cast spells" on his own behalf
in order to be a magician seems rather likely to be a modern
interpretation of the magician's role.  Renaissance magicians were
apparently still magicians even if their only personal power was the
control of spirits who performed all the magic on their behalf.

Thomas Larque.
"Shakespeare and His Critics"
http://shakespearean.org.uk

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Friday, 22 Feb 2002 10:33:48 -0800
Subject: 13.0518 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0518 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest

Todd Lidh comments that "Theatrically, it would be a remarkable
achievement," to show a Prospero who is not powerful.  I'm wondering if
Prospero's power can be doubted so easily because it is presented
theatrically in the first place.  How would one stage him cleaving an
oak and pinning Ariel in it?   How could one show him making a storm?
You'd need some pretty fancy, even cinematic, effects.

Se

 

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