Black Magic vs. White Magic in Shakespeare’s The Tempest
“A man who governs his passions is “truly wise”…. The heavens have not seen nor has the earth borne a more glorious person than the man who always obeys reason. Not all the crowns of the world can adorn his head fittingly; only eternity can recompense one of such high virtue. To have a quiet soul is the only pleasure of the world” (Anderson 173-4).
Where is the line drawn between good and bad magic? Who decides which form of magic is evil and which is not. Why was there a Glenda the good witch and the wicked witch of the west (Wizard of Oz)? According to Robert S. Ellwood,
Magic is widely practiced in primal and traditional societies. In such contexts magic is not simply a pre-scientific way of attaining practical ends- it may also involve at least a partial symbolic recognition of the society’s spiritual worldview and of its gods and myths. In this respect magic often merges with religion, and indeed the line between the two is frequently blurred (Ellwood, Encarta).
Prospero definitely exposes the gray area between religion and his magic. He realizes that if he unleashed the storm, giving his brother and the ship’s crew the idea that they would perish, the fear and despair that Prospero felt upon first embarking the island would be felt. Prospero teaches his brother a subconscious lesson at sea. Prospero was scholarly, but magic surpasses book smarts, it requires a sense of society, the people that the magic would affect. It is also figuring how they could be effected, a manipulation of sorts to employ the correct means of magic, “magic attempts to affect the future, not merely to predict it (Ellwood, Encarta).