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Magic and Sorcery

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tenzin wangchuk

on 16 December 2013

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Transcript of Magic and Sorcery

Magic as Control
Side-stitches that shall pen thy breath up. Urchins
Shall [forth at] vast of 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, lines 389-394, pg 37)
Magic in Dante's Inferno
In Dante, practitioners of magic are shown as being sinners against God. In Canto XX, Dante and Virgil pass through the layer of hell that houses the soothsayers. Their heads are turned backwards as punishment for attempting to look into the future in life.

"See there Guido Bonatti; see Asdente,
who wishes now he head been more devoted
to making shoes--too late now for repentance.
And see those wretched hags who traded in
needle, spindle, shuttle, for fortune-telling,
and cast their spells with image-dolls and potions." (Canto XX, l118-123, pg 460)

How is what these souls are being punished for different from Prospero's use of magic? These shades are sinners; can Prospero be a hero and a sinner?
"She went up the stairs to her room with her women
And wept for Odysseus, her beloved husband,
Until grey-eyed Athena cast sleep on her eyelids."

Book XXI, lines 380-383, pg.585
Circe is a goddess, so using her powers are a divine right. She has the power to invoke fear in men, and to control anything she wishes to control. She is the daughter of Helios, the god of the sun. In some stories, she was exiled by her father because she killed her husband. Prospero was also exiled, but his powers are not divine. He learned sorcery from books. He uses it to protect Miranda, but he also uses "his art" for vengeance and to torture Caliban. He is just a man, so he does not have the divine right that Circe does. However, in the end of their journeys, they realize that their actions were unjust. In this quote, Circe is humbled and tamed by Odysseus, and she restores the men to their natural form and helps guide them on their journey back to Ithaca. In The Tempest, Prospero is humbled by Ferdinand and Miranda's love, and learns to forgive the wrongs done to him.

Question: If you have the ability to use magic, would you ever use it to control others like Circe and Prospero did? Why would it be right/wrong to do so?
Magic and Sorcery
In this quote, Prospero is threatening Caliban with torture by sorcery if he does not do his bidding.

This is an example of using magic as a means of control, or abuse of power and knowledge.

How is this different from how magic is used in other works? Does the purpose of the magic change the morality of using it?
In this quote from Homer's "The Odyssey", we see a divine figure using magic to control someone. For example, Athena puts Penelope to sleep while her husband and son is battling the suitors. Even though she is a Queen, she is weak in front of a god. That's how magic is used as a mean to control, without any questions.
by Leila Cheung, Tenzin Wangchuk, Matthew Ortiz, Emily Lourie
Prospero: For this, be sure, tonight thou shalt have cramps,
How does the use of magic differ in purpose from human and divine?
Considering that power can be derived from divinity or knowledge, with the works discussed has there been a case where power has been used for the greater good?
The Odyssey, Book X, pg 447 lines 413-24

Odysseus says:

"'So I spoke, and Circe went outside/Holding her wand and opened the sty/and drove them out.../After Circe had given them the poisonous drug/All fell away, and they became men again/...The goddess herself was moved to pity.'"
There are many similarities between the Odyssey and The Tempest, main one being is the driving force between each story. Each story is started because a main character angers someone with strong spiritual abilities and that person uses there ability to make it impossible for them to make it home. In The Tempest, Prospero wants to take revenge on Alonso and Antonio by calling upon the power of the tempest and causing them to be marooned on the same Island as him. While in The Odyssey, Poseidon wants to take revenge on Odysseus for blinding his son by causing a storm and making it impossible for Odysseus and his crew to guide the ship home. The similarities in this are that the reason both Poseidon and Prospero want to take revenge is because of the their children. The only difference is that in The Tempest instead of the protagonist getting set off course it is the antagonist instead.
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