The magic in The Tempest was able to create many abnormal happenings as well as different feelings that are shown through the characters of Milan. There were two different types of magic that were shown one was represented by witches and wizards, this type of magic was not the beneficial type of magic. The beneficial type of magic was created by studies that were done in secret and used to discover new forces, and to study the greater effects of physics. All this magic that took place results in many of the illusions that were created on the island.
There are many illusions that seem to happen quite frequently, while the shipwrecked persons of Milan were on the island that was created by Prospero’s powers. Many of these encounters may not even be illusions but figments of their imagination as well as hallucinations. While others tend to happen because of the magic that Prospero creates with his mind. The spirits of the air are the highest type these include Ariel, Ceres, Iris, Juno, as well as the nymphs. Each part of the magic symbolizes a certain part of the island. The spirits of the air I have already mentioned another type would be the spirits of the earth. These would include the goblins, the dogs and hounds that were used to disease Caliban and his associates. (: “Our natures do pursue, Like rats that ravin down their proper bane, A thirsty evil; and when we drink we die. Act 1, sc. 2) Another form of the earth spirits would be the nymphs (Prospero: “Go make yourself like a nymph o’ th’ sea. Be subject To no sight but thine and mine, invisible to every eyeball else. Go take this shape and hither come in’t. Go! Hence with diligence! ExitAriel . Awake, dear heart, awake! Thou hast slept well. Awake!act 1, sc. 2}
Out if Prosperos’ anger he creates a vicious storm at sea causing the ship to become shipwrecked on his very own island. He uses this as an advantage to make the island as a task for all the Millan characters to find themselves. This would be their task as they are on the island. Prospero uses some of his most intriguing magic spells to manipulate his guests that will be staying on the island. The people are aware of the power that the island holds but they are unaware that Prospero is in existence at this point. Part of the manipulation process that Prospero creates is gaining the trust amongst the many people that have become ship wrecked. Prospero: “Tis time I should inform thee farther. Lend thy hand. . . For thou must know farther.”(act 1, sc. 2) After this they are like prisoners on his island and do anything for him.
The island itself is illusory. It is Prospero’s and its warm tropical climate alone would make someone think they were dreaming.
Another main part of the illusions would be Ariel and its fairy friends. Ariel was shown throughout the play. It created music, and could fly freely about the island. Ariel could form all aspects of fire, air, earth, and water. Fire was shown through lightning and in forms of flames. Water spirits appear in the Naiads and also the elves of the brooks and streams. Its spirit in air would be shown by how Ariel can glide through the air freely. The characters could not always see Ariel but most definitively heard it. Ariel and the other spirits were also able to transform themselves into different paraphernalia. In doing this they were able to watch the people and guide them in order to find their inner spirits.
As the spirits flew about they were able to control the fate on the island. The humans in this play had no authority as to the fate that occurred on the island, and had to rely on the spirits.
As for Caliban, he had a different form, but he still was the mercy of the spirits. Caliban’s destination was directed by the nymphs and other creatures. Prospero: “For this, be sure, tonight thou shalt have cramps, side-stiches that shall pen thy breath up. Urchins shall, for that vast night that they may work, all exercise on thee; thou shalt be pinched as thick as honeycomb, each pinch more stinging than bees that made’ em.” (act 1, sc. 2)Prospero talking to Caliban
Caliban was also related to the many illusions that were created on the island. Many of the people that were in the shipwreck had never seen a creature that was quite as ugly as Caliban. Many of them thought that there could be no such thing as a beast as ugly as Caliban. In fact Caliban was a gentle creature with human feelings.
Shakespeare greatly emphasized on how freely the spirits could fly through and about the island, making it haunted. The spirits symbolized our fate in life and how we have no idea were the path is going to take us, and what road we will travel down. You can’t fight reality or fate away, just like the characters in The Tempest couldn’t fight away the spirits. In some cases the spirits and illusions helped the people but in other situations the matters at hand became worse. You have to believe in fate and freedom for any of it to come true, you must believe in the spirits in order for them to do anything for you. It may not even be a force of nature that creates these illusions it is in fact you yourself that has to make them come alive, you must believe in them. It is important for people to believe in some thing’s that are unbelievable to others, and vice versa. They must do this because it in turn helps them to believe in themselves.
By: Brad Fletcher