The Combination of Love and Witchcraft in The Tempest

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 848 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Jun 29, 2018

Words: 848|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Jun 29, 2018

In William Shakespeare's final play, The Tempest, the playwright intertwines love and magic, creating one of play's the major themes. Prospero, the protagonist, uses magic to plan the events of this comedy. The first act of magic is the tempest and the subsequent shipwreck in Act I, scene i. The victims wash up on the shore of Prospero and Miranda's island. Of the survivors, Ferdinand, Prince of Naples, wanders aimlessly around the island by himself until Ariel, a magical spirit, guides him to Miranda. As planned, they fall in love at first sight; from that point on their relationship is seemingly perfect. However, the inexperience of Miranda combined with Ferdinand's fragile state of mind, raises questions about their infatuation. The audience can assume one of two things: the first, that their love is real, or the second, that their love is simply the result of Prospero's magic. Based on evidence in the script, one can conclude that the love between Ferdinand and Miranda is not an act of fate, but rather the result of Prospero's magic.

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From the beginning of Ferdinand and Miranda's relationship, all aspects of their love are too perfect. Ariel's music, "with its sweet air" (I.ii.448), leads Ferdinand to Miranda. The songs of the magical spirit enhance the aura of love and seal their relationship with a sense of perfection. Miranda's first words to Ferdinand allow him to recognize her language as his own, "My language! Heavens!" (I.ii.488). Their common tongue permits them to communicate their emotions with ease. "At first sight/ They have changed eyes," (I.ii.503-504) offering themselves as slaves to one another. Prospero's magic makes their love an easy task, and seemingly too perfect. As an obstacle, he believes he should "uneasy make" (I.ii.517) their rapidly progressing, adolescent love. However, Ferdinand, performing menial laborious tasks, enjoys every moment, given his undying devotion to Miranda. Together, the mood, the language, and the dedication justify an unconditionally perfect love typically not based on reality. "Real" love, usually has more depth that has been developed through conflict and resolution. In its very perfection, the love of Ferdinand and Miranda seems solely driven by Prospero's magic.

Both the suddenness of their love and their naïveté further suggests a magical basis for their love. Ferdinand is the third man that Miranda has ever seen, "the first/ That e'er (she) sighed for" (I.ii.509-10). "Nor have I seen/ More that I may call men than you, good friend,/ and my dear father" (III.ii.59-61), Miranda asserts to Ferdinand. She has lived a sheltered life, not knowing "One of (her) sex; no woman's face" (III.i.57-8) and knowing only two men: her goodly father, and Caliban. Caliban is immoral and represents the "animal nature" that Prospero has sheltered her from until now. She has never experienced love or lust making her more susceptible to act on sudden impulses. Ferdinand, on the other hand, has "liked several women, never any/ With so fun soul (as Miranda's)" (III.i.51). However, he has a similar state of mind to Miranda's. He speaks of his "drown'd father" (I.ii.459), who he believes to have died in the tempest. Both Miranda and Ferdinand are equally naïve, contributing a great deal to their relationship. To Miranda, Ferdinand is a "thing divine" (I.ii.747). Miranda is Ferdinand's escape from grieving for his father. She replaces his sorrow with happiness. Prospero uses his magic to orchestrate their love; letting them feel things they have never felt before.

Although it is clear that Prospero's magic is the major controlling force in their relationship, there is a possibility that fate works in duality with magic. Although the magic is his own creation, Prospero never seems to be satisfied. An example of Prospero's dissatisfaction is in Act I, scene ii, when Prospero is disgruntled by the extent of his daughter's new love. While his magic began the infatuation, it seems that fate takes over, diminishing the power of his magic. Critics over the centuries have argued that there is a devious side to Prospero. But, what if there is more to it? What if there is the possibility that fate works in a duality with magic? This assumption would explain not only Prospero's personality changes, but also the inexhaustible twists in the storyline. It may be that fate does in fact take part in the plot, only to be masked by Prospero's magic.

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William Shakespeare often presents the convention of "love at first sight" in his works. In The Tempest, he warns the audience of the illusory nature of this type of love. Although Miranda and Ferdinand's love seems perfect, it sparks conflict as it does for Miranda and Prospero. Accidentally, Miranda breaks the promise with her father that she would not speak to Ferdinand. But, she is taken over by the magic of the love, controlling her actions. Both characters have focused on nothing but one another; they have no concern for anyone or anything. Because of Prospero's magic, Miranda and Ferdinand, although in love, are complete strangers. They are simply two naïve adolescents under a spell, acting on impulses.

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The Combination of Love and Witchcraft in The Tempest. (2018, Jun 13). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 28, 2024, from
“The Combination of Love and Witchcraft in The Tempest.” GradesFixer, 13 Jun. 2018,
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