Homework Help

From which act in "The Tempest" does the quote below come, and what are the...

user profile pic

fitter638 | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 2, 2010 at 2:14 AM via web

dislike 2 like

From which act in "The Tempest" does the quote below come, and what are the circumstances in which it is spoken?

But this rough magic

I here abjure; and when I have required

Some heavenly music (which even now I do),

To work mine end upon their senses that

This airy charm is for, I'll break my staff,

Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,

And deeper than did ever plummet sound

I'll drown my book.

 

4 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 2, 2010 at 2:23 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 1 like

The lines that you cite here come from Shakespeare's play The Tempest.  The person who speaks these lines is the character Prospero.  He speaks these lines in Act V, Scene 1.

What is going on at this point in the play is that Prospero is promising to quit using magic.  He has been using magic during the whole play (and ever since he's been on the island) to make various people do what he wants.  Now, in these lines, he is saying that he will get rid of his book and no longer do any magic.

user profile pic

mstokes | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted April 2, 2010 at 2:28 AM (Answer #2)

dislike 1 like

It is from Act Five, Scene One of The Tempest and occurs when Prospero, a magician, decides to abandon his magic potions and his communion with magic powers and return to a common humanity. Often identified with Shakespeare at career’s end, an old man with flowing robes and beard, bidding adieu to his books and magic and to “ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes, and groves” (5.1.33), with a fifteen-year-old daughter Prospero could be anywhere between thirty and ninety. The Tempest portrays Prospero’s brush with revenge, and can be viewed as an expression of an old man’s indignation, pique and superior power but he learns an important lesson which includes qualities of forgiveness, peace, and humanity.

Prospero is saying goodbye to a life time of magic that, while impressive to others, meant nothing to him while trapped on an Island after being banished and disgraced.

 

This was Shakespeare's last play and as such, his farewell to the magic of the theatre and the wonder of words. When Prospero says this line, we can imagine Shakespeare speaking through him.

 

user profile pic

dixon349 | College Teacher | Honors

Posted April 2, 2010 at 2:19 AM (Answer #3)

dislike 0 like

It is from Act Five, Scene One of The Tempest and occurs when Prospero, a magician, decides to abandon his powers and return to a common humanity.


Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes and groves, 
    And ye that on the sands with printless foot 
    Do chase the ebbing Neptune and do fly him 
    When he comes back; you demi-puppets that 
    By moonshine do the green sour ringlets make, 
    Whereof the ewe not bites, and you whose pastime 
    Is to make midnight mushrooms, that rejoice 
    To hear the solemn curfew; by whose aid, 
    Weak masters though ye be, I have bedimm'd 
    The noontide sun, call'd forth the mutinous winds, 
    And 'twixt the green sea and the azured vault 
    Set roaring war: to the dread rattling thunder 
    Have I given fire and rifted Jove's stout oak 
    With his own bolt; the strong-based promontory 
    Have I made shake and by the spurs pluck'd up 
    The pine and cedar: graves at my command 
    Have waked their sleepers, oped, and let 'em forth 
    By my so potent art. But this rough magic 
    I here abjure, and, when I have required 
    Some heavenly music, which even now I do, 
    To work mine end upon their senses that 
    This airy charm is for, I'll break my staff, 
    Bury it certain fathoms in the earth, 
    And deeper than did ever plummet sound 
    I'll drown my book. 

user profile pic

florine | Student , Undergraduate | Valedictorian

Posted February 22, 2012 at 10:04 PM (Answer #4)

dislike 0 like

  I just wanted to draw your attention to the fact that Prospero's ultimate statement against magic in The Tempest "I'll drown my books" is very much reminiscent of Doctor Faustus's last great soliloquy when he is ready to "burn his books" and of Paracelsus, the great alchemist.  

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes