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Shakespeare's The Tempest and Marlowe's Doctor Faustus Essay

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Shakespeare's brilliant portrayal of Prospero's use of magic and power continues to draw both readers and audiences with The Tempest's many meanings and interpretations. As a main character, Prospero, is a person that many people can identify themselves with, with his want to achieve his desires and gain power over others through the use of magic. It is this identification that exceeds Shakespearean works, with The Tempest both emulating and presenting themes from other works in the Elizabethan period. Such as Christopher Marlowe's “Doctor Faustus”, a play written twenty years prior to The Tempest, containing the same themes of magic and power. Also, Both Faustus and Prospero portray the idea that power, such as magic, originates from books: whether they are works on “secret studies” or “liberal arts” (Tempest 1.2.91-95). Magic and power are two forces, that can both be found in literary works inside the play, and it is through Marlowe and Shakespeare's works that the audience is brought into the power play. This essay will explore the idea of the Renaissance overreacher, and his relationship with books.
A magician uses knowledge of magic to control his own life and experiment with the world, which also allows him to influence both natural and supernatural powers. It is this knowledge of the supernatural, gained through books, that allows a magician to rise above other influences and act as a power. These books are written by curious and gifted scholars who hope that by merging and delving into various religious and philosophical dogmas, everything will combine and create an ultimate truth. Scholars make huge books, full of their knowledge of the universe. Often, these books lead the scholar to their destruction, by consuming th...


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Rabelais, Francois. The sequel to Pantagruel: Being Books III, IV, and V of Rabelais' Gargantua and the Heroic Deeds of Pantagruel. Ed. G.Routledge. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1888. Google Book.
Shakespeare, William. The Tempest Eds. Mowat, Barbara A., & Paul Werstine. New York: Simon & Schuster Inc, 2009. Print.
Shapiro, James S. Rival Playwrights: Marlowe, Jonson, and Shakespeare. New York: Columbia University Press, 1991. Google Book.
Smith, Nicole. “The Forbidden Quest for Knowledge in Doctor Faustus and Paradise Lost”. Article Myriad. Published: 6 December, 2011. Accessed: 18, November, 2013. Web.
Woodman, Tony. Poetry and Politics in the Age of Augustus. Ed. Anthony John Woodman, David Alexander West. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984. Google Book.


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