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Home » , » Write a note on Shakespeare's use of the supernatural elements in the play, The Tempest.
Supernaturalism is a phenomenon that cannot be explained with the help of science. The belief in the supernatural has been universal in all ages. During the Elizabethan Period (1558 1603), the people irrespective of whether literate or illiterate kept faith in the supernatural elements. In The Tempest, Shakespeare introduces supernatural elements and incidents to thrill his audience. Here the supernatural acts as a powerful divine force.

The order of the spirits represented in The Tempest exactly follows this hierarchy. Ariel is the spirit of the air and after his task is done in the play Prospero bids him 'to the elements be free'. Through this agency of Ariel, Prospero uses his power upon the inferior spirits of fire, water, and earth. The spirits of water comprise the sea nymphs.

Prospero is the master magician. He has command over this spirit world. He is no vulgar necromancer, who performs tricks like Dr. Faustus. He is a magician, a man with a giant's power which he uses like a god. With his spirits he raises storms allays them,  apparently wrecks the ship and saves it, exposes and defeats the criminals, drives the sinners home to the contribution, and lastly, brings about reconciliation and reunion. He is a sort of man-providence controlling and dominating the spirits.

Prospero's art is the antithesis of the black magic of Sycorax. Caliban's deformity is the result of evil natural magic, and it stands as a natural criterion by which we measure the world of Art, represented by Prospero's divine magic and the supernaturally sanctioned beauty of Miranda and Ferdinand. 

In the play, the supernatural has a dramatic purpose. For example, Ferdinand and Miranda do not fall in love with each other under the influence of Prospero's magic. Prospero's magic only brings them together. Their falling in love is spontaneous Likewise,  it is not Prospero's magic, but the inherent wickedness of Antonio and Sebastian, which makes these two men conspire against Alonso's life.

In respect of the delineation, as stated above, we come across that The Tempest is a line comedy in which supernatural elements are its ornaments. Shakespeare has employed a new dimension to the play. He is quite successful in handling the supernatural elements in this romantic comedy.


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