The Tempest Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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What is the role of the supernatural in William Shakespeare's The Tempest?

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One function of the supernatural in Shakespeare's The Tempest is to highlight the power of one of the main characters, Prospero. Prospero uses his magic to create the storm that causes the ship to crash into the island, and then he uses his magic to strategically position the passengers across the island.

One interpretation of the character of Prospero is that he represents Shakespeare. Just as Prospero uses his magic to control the other characters, essentially playing the part of a puppet-master, so too Shakespeare, as a successful playwright, used his power, or 'magic' with words to control all of the characters in his stories. This was one of the last plays that Shakespeare wrote alone, so when Prospero breaks his magic staff at the end of the play, this could represent Shakespeare putting down his pen, and coming to terms with the prospect of living without his own 'magical' powers.

Another interpretation of Prospero, and his magic powers, is that he represents British colonization,...

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