The “Cloven Pine”
In The Tempest, the primary source of power and agency is magic. Prospero’s enslavement of both Ariel and Caliban and the ways in which he is able to secure his reinstatement as the Duke of Milan through his conjurings begin to suggest the degree to which magic figures as the site of the play’s colonialist discourse. Barbara Howard Traister in her article “Prospero: Master of Self-Knowledge” makes a key distinction when she suggests that in The Tempest “the arts of Sycorax and Prospero competed, not the characters themselves” (114). Traister’s point is critical to our understanding of power relations and magic in the play because Sycorax, of course, does not appear in the play outright; rather, our knowledge of her is principally through the accounts of Prospero and Caliban, and indirectly through Ariel which, as Irene Lara points out, is a “ventriloquism of sorts that we cannot fully trust” (“Beyond Caliban’s Curses” 58). It is Prospero’s reminder to Ariel of his captivity to the “The foul” (1.2.259) and “damn’d witch Sycorax” (1.2.265) that is perhaps the most definitive characterization because the ultimately victorious user of magic himself names the type of magic that Sycorax is purported to have engaged with.
I want to consider the colonialist discourse of The Tempest with a view to the play’s characterization of Sycorax as a “witch” versus Prospero’s relationship to magic in the play, and to suggest that the battle between Prospero and Sycorax’s “arts” is not one between good and evil “magics,” but instead that the tension between magics is arises out of the “witching” of Sycorax based on popularized Renaissance notions of witchcraft. While Prospero can easily be located as a proto-colonialist figure on a number of fronts, it is in this light that we can see how the engendering of magic through the witching of Sycorax helps to create the conditions for the “othering” that is at the centre of The Tempest’s colonialist discourse.
The Malleus Maleficarum, or “Hammer of Witches” of 1486 is a key Renaissance text that sheds some light on the ideological framework out of which the “witching” of Sycorax arises. In his entry in The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Witches and Witch Beliefs, “The Malleus maleficarum and the Learned Discourse of Witchcraft,” Peter Broedel suggest that while there were several “late medieval texts” that dealt with witches, “a coherent dialogue is almost completely absent” and that it was this lack of a unified scholarship that prompted Heinrich Kramer to write The Malleus in 1496 (45). By the Renaissance, the text had become widely distributed and authoritative, benefiting from the fact that “it was the first witch treatise to benefit from printing,” was prefaced by a “papal bull,” and carried with it the prestigious reputation of its “co-author,” Jacob Sprenger (46).[i] Broedel also suggests that there is evidence that the “distinguished Dominican reformer” Sprenger, “may have contributed nothing to the book save his name,” and that the several reprintings of the Malleus insured its distribution among subsequent generations of “witch believers” (46).
Contemporary academics may or may not be entirely accurate in their criticisms of feminist scholar’s “ahistorical use of the terms misogyny and patriarchy” (Rowlands 451) in assessing the Malleus, and it would be specious to assume that a single text stands for an entire culture’s views on women, witchcraft, or anything else. However, what is today viewed as the patriarchal subtext of the Malleus, had (and still has) a degree of cultural currency that may have been useful to Shakespeare as a dramatist whether he viewed such ideas as corrupt or not.[ii] It is also useful to remember that The Tempest reflects an “Elizabethan ontology that held a very real place for fish-like creatures born of witches and devils” (Pesta 58). While we may be able to abstract the idea of “witch” and locate it as a site of colonialist ideology, there is also a sense in which a book like The Malleus reflects very real fears about witches, and Shakespeare no doubt found such fear dramatically useful as well.
If we look at The Tempest through the lens of the Malleus, there are several instances in the play where Sycorax fits its popularized characterizations of witches. The Malleus’ second chapter, “Of the way whereby a formal pact with evil is made,” asserts that there are “three kinds of witches; namely, those who injure but cannot cure; those who cure, but, through some strange pact with the devil, cannot injure; and those who both injure and cure” (54). After Prospero recalls that Sycorax, in her fury over the spirit’s refusal to obey her “earthly and abhorred commands” (1.2.273), detained Ariel in “a cloven pine” (1.2.277) for twelve years until he released him, Prospero claims that it was a magic “which Sycorax / Could not again undo[iii]” (1.2. 289-290). This act of maleficence that Syrcorax could not reverse suggests that Sycorax was precisely the kind of witch who could “injure but [could not] cure”[iv]
In Prospero’s account, Sycorax is purely a maleficent practitioner of magic whose “mischiefs manifold and sorceries terrible” (1.2.264) allowed her to rule the island before his arrival. Further, for Prospero to characterize Sycorax as “a damn’d witch” (1.2.265) is to position her as not only injurious, but also aligns her with the demonic, an association that is found throughout the Malleus. The characterizations (or classifications) of witches contained in the Malleus serve to reinforce a binary in which Prospero’s magic becomes the “morally superior” (Vaughan and Vaughan 66) one: “…the Catholic truth is this, that witches and the devil always work together, and that as far as these matters are concerned one can do nothing without the aid and assistance of the other” (Kramer and Sprenger 26). As Paul Brown points out, this same binary creates the “power relations” in the play through which “only Prospero’s more powerful ‘good’ magic can counteract the ‘bad’ magic of Sycorax” thus allowing Prospero to maintain control over Ariel by creating an “an evil other” (144) that is at the centre of the play’s colonialist discourse:
Her black, female magic ostensibly contrasts with that of Prospero in that it is remembered as viciously coercive, yet beneath the apparent voluntarism of the white, male regime lies the threat of precisely this coercion. This tends to produce an identification between the regimes, which is underscored by biographical similarities such as that both rulers are magicians, both have been exiled because of their practices, both have nurtured children on the isle. (144)
Brown’s comment is illuminating in suggesting the ways in which magic in The Tempest creates the conditions for an othering of Sycorax that can be used to justify an individual self-interest that mirrors the colonialist collective self-interest: a troubling binary given in light of Shohat and Stam’s comment in their book Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multiculturalism and the Media that “European Christian demonology set the tone for colonialist racism” (60). However, I want to suggest that while Brown’s comment is useful, there is no “identification” between Sycorax and “magician” as such. Further, even if we accept Barbara Mowat’s more nuanced argument that “the usual categorizing of the play’s magic as ‘white magic’ for Prospero and ‘black magic’ for Sycorax is inadequate” because Prospero is, in fact, a third sort of “magician” or “necromancer”[v] (25), it does not prevent Prospero from creating this binary of the “other” between himself and Sycorax, whatever the specific type of magic Prospero ultimately uses.
Sycorax’s identity is entirely “witch,” while Prospero’s identity as a user of magic can be adopted or shed at will. The Malleus differentiates between male and female relationships with magic, and Broedel, in his book, The Malleus Maleficarium and the Construction of Witchcraft, highlights the key distinction between genders :
“It goes without saying that magicians and astrologers are invariably male; that witches are commonly female…This is in part a function of simple feminine frailty, and [in The Malleus] they assemble a tiresome collection of authorities to show that women are more credulous than men, more impressionable, more superstitious, more impulsive, more prone to emotional extremes: in sum more easily ensnared by the devil due to their weaker minds and bodies.” (25)
Of course the most overt expression of the difference between Sycorax and Prospero’s relationship to magic occurs at the end of the play when he casts off his magic in order to resume his position in Naples (Vaughan and Vaughan 66). However, we also see Prospero exercising a magical agency denied Sycorax when he tells Mirada, “Lend thy hand / And pluck my magic garments from me. So / Lie there my art” (1.2. 24-25). Prospero’s “art” is something he practices and studies, but it does not define, let alone demonize, him. Broedel goes on to say in the same book that, while “men are counted among those ‘addicted to witchcraft” in The Malleus, “it is difficult to call them witches: they do not practice conventional maleficium, have intercourse with the devil, or indulge in most other characteristically witch-like activities, and their social roles are relentlessly male” (31). The fact that the Malleus tells us that “devils and their disciples can by witchcraft cause lightnings and hailstorms and tempests” (Kramer and Sprenger 31) and Prospero’s magic produces a “tempest” (1.2.195), the effects which Ariel reports made Ferdinand exclaim, “’Hell is empty/ All the devils are here’” (1.2.214-15) yet nonetheless escapes being labeled a witch suggests the degree to which “witch” is a gendered construct.
While it is primarily concerned with the links between notions of the mother and witchcraft, Deborah Willis’ Malevolent Nurture also illuminates the ways in which labeling a woman as a “witch” is entwined with political power relations:
What is clear enough however, is that the charge of witchcraft is embedded in a larger drama of intrigue, rivalry, and revenge, of power struggle over office and retaliation…Typically in such cases, a charge of witchcraft is made against someone believed to have designs against the monarchs or some other highly placed official…In fact, the charge—and perhaps also the actual charge of witchcraft—may emerge from a factional struggle, may be part of one aristocratic group’s attempt to displace its rivals and remove them from power. (4)
Given the nature of her argument, it is interesting that while she devotes a chapter to Macbeth, Willis does not apply her paradigm to The Tempest. However, I want to suggest that, like Macbeth, Prospero takes up the role of “monarch” on the island, and that the absent figure of the similarly exiled Algerian Sycorax represents a threat to his sovereignty in Willis’ sense. While initially Caliban might seem to be most clearly representative of this threat because of his actual presence on stage and his clearly articulated ill-will towards Prospero, it is important to remember that, unlike Sycorax, he has no magic with which to truly threaten Prospero’s power. Further, even if Caliban did happen to inherit his mother’s ability to perform magic, as a male, he does not represent the same potential to subvert the social hierarchy through it; Caliban could never be called a “witch” because the term, as evidenced by the Malleus, is inherently gendered. However, Caliban nonetheless plays a role in the “witching” of Sycorax.
Prospero links Caliban’s malevolent nature with Sycorax’s engendered magic when he commands, “Hag-seed hence/Fetch us fuel, and be quick—thou’rt best—To answer other business/ Shrug’st thou, malice? (1.2.367-370). Tellingly, the OED Online defines “hag” as “An evil sprit, daemon, or informal being, in female form” with the earliest recorded of the term being used in this sense as 1592. Throughout The Malleus, there is an overt concern with procreation and female sexuality. The fourth chapter, for example, purports “six points” as to “the method by whereby witches copulate with Incubus devils” (72). To call Sycorax a “hag” and Caliban a “hag-seed” defines both of them in relation to witchcraft: witches are women who copulated with the devil and Caliban is evidence of that act. In fact, Broedel locates female sexuality and anxieties about procreation as “the mainspring of contemporary witchcraft: women’s lust leads them to copulate with the devil, to use magic to gain new lovers and revenge themselves against former ones, and to all manner of other sins” (Construction of Witchcraft, 26). Prospero’s associating Sycorax with “hag-like” sexual behavior and its connection to “othering” is further supported by Lara Irene’s contention that “In step with medieval and early modern associations between women’s transgressive spiritual witchy knowledge and transgresive sexual behavior, Prospero further implies that Sycorax’s horridness is connected to her obscene sexuality” (84).
In the play, there is an implicit link in considering Sycorax as a witch, anxieties about the role of the mother, gendered power relations, and actual political power. In his essay “Prospero’s Wife,” Stephen Orgel points to Caliban’s claim that “This Island’s mine, by Sycorax my mother” (1.2.333) stems from notions of rightful inheritance:
…he need not make the claim this way. He could derive it from the mere fact of prior possession: he was here first. This, after all, would have been Sycorax’s sole claim to the island, but it is an argument Caliban never makes. And in deriving his authority from his mother, he delivers himself into Prospero’s hands. Prospero declares him a bastard…thereby both disallowing any claim from inheritance and justifying his loathing for Caliban. (5)
Returning to Willis with this notion of inheritance in mind, we can see the way in which Caliban contributes the “witching” of Sycorax directly. When Willis posits that in European Renaissance-era witchcraft accusations, a younger woman who accused an older women of being a witch would often paint them as “an invasive and malevolent mother who used her powers to suckle, feed, and nurture childlike demonic ‘imps’ in order to bring sickness and death to the households of other mothers. The witch was feared for her ability to retaliate and harm others through magic—a magic acquired through her maternal power” (9).
While Willis does not mention Sycorax in her book, in its “Introduction” she cites Janet Adelman’s Suffocating Mothers: Fantasies of Maternal Origin in Shakespeare’s Plays, Hamlet to the Tempest as a key influence. Like Willis, Adelman is interested in maternal figures as the site of patriarchal power relations. In her brief discussion of the play, Adelman makes a key point that we can connect to the colonialist discourse taking place through its magic when she says, “Prospero’s reappropriation of control at the beginning of the The Tempest is nearly diagrammatic: even before the play has begun, the maternal body has been defined as dangerous and banished in the form of Sycorax” (237). It is telling that Sycorax’x “banishment” is emphasized so early in the play, and I think that it is possible to read this as a very direct means for Shakespeare to secure Prospero’s relationship to magic and power early on: from the outset we understand that he occupies the superior moral ground that Traister points to.
To return to the “cloven tree,” Adelman takes a psychoanalytical tack when she reads Prospero’s releasing of Ariel as a metaphor for a male’s desire to give birth: “the maternal body of nature is dangerous and needs a father’s benign management; only his art releases Ariel from confinement in her material body” (237), and goes on to suggest that this fantasy is enacted in other instances in the play through his influence over the other immaterial, unbodied spirits he controls (237). This is an important notion because it suggests the intersection of the play’s patriarchal power is where his literal patriarchal role as father to Miranda intersects with his figurative fatherhood of Ariel and Caliban, a role that is enforced through his magic. It is no accident that another definition of a “hag” listed by the OED that had currency in 1589 is “a wooded enclosure; a coppice or copse,” which suggests Ariel, upon release from the pine, is also a kind of “hag-seed.”
In Adelman’s conception, Caliban comes to represent an aspect of the maternal psyche who, in his being released back to the soon to be abandoned island, is “Perpetually excluded from the patriarchal world and the patriarchal psyche that cannot tolerate him” (238). However, Adelman ignores the fact that Caliban’s fate at the end of the play remains ambiguous (it is unclear whether he really could be incorporated into society if he was given the chance) and that he promises Prospero he will “seek for grace” (5.1. 296). That is, that Sycorax’s “imp” promises to “seek for grace” suggests a rejection not of Caliban himself, but his own rejection of the other he has come to represent. Whether or not he in fact leaves the island, the word “grace” connotes an acceptance of Christian values and thus has colonialist implications. Caliban has not only learned to “name the bigger light”(1.2.336), an astrological concept straight out of Genesis (Vaughan and Vaughan 196), but now promises to figuratively follow it: he is no longer his mother’s son but will “seek” to fit into Prospero’s patriarchal paradigm though, because of his impishness and the “other” he represents, he can never achieve it. Nonetheless, in accepting a value system opposite that of Sycorax, he has been effectively colonized by Prospero.
In light of his ideological colonization of Caliban, Prospero’s famous speech regarding Sycorax’s devilish “imp” at the end of the play establishes a relationship between established, gendered notions of witchcraft and that colonization:
…This misshapen knave
His mother was a witch, and one so strong
That could control the moon, make flows and ebbs,
And deal in her command without her power
These three have robbed me, and this demi-devil
(For he’s a bastard one) had plotted with them
To take my life. Two of these fellows you
Must know and own; this thing of darkness I
Acknowledge mine. (5.1. 268-276)
This establishes that Caliban is now ideologically Prospero’s[vi] while at the same time recalling the idea put forth at the beginning of the play that Sycorax mated with a daemon. In his essay “Satanic Myths and Cultural Reality,” Robert Nuchembled indirectly draws out a further connection between witch persecution[vii] and colonialist discourse when he says, “Witch hunting is a liturgy of fear. It spreads obsessions that are essentially those of the learned, but which inspire real dread and anxiety among the masses” (139). If we take Prospero as a an agent of the “learned,” we can see how the colonialist discourse surrounding Sycorax operates: a primal fear of Traister’s “other” elicited in the masses (Caliban, Ariel, Miranda) that spreads a justification for a colonialist expansion (Prospero’s dominance) that will ultimately benefit the educated elite (himself). This idea is further supported when Nuchembled goes on to suggest, “The persecution of witches is an effect of the acculturation of rural areas by the religious and political elite” (153). Given his former status as Duke of Milan and his education in magical texts, Prospero certainly is the sole representative of the “religious and political elite” on the unquestionably rural island. Paul Brown points out that when Prospero says, “this thing of darkness I acknowledge mine” he also shows a radical “identification” with “the other” and that “at end of the play is in danger of becoming the other to the narrative declaration of his own project, which is precisely the ambivalent position Caliban occupies” (151). There a sense in which Prospero acknowledges not only an identification with Caliban’s othered “darkness,” (Brown 140) but Sycorax’s as well.
King James’ damning treatise on magic, The Daemonologie of 1597, is another text that critics have suggested as possible influence for Shakespeare in composing The Tempest, particularly in regards to its overarching concern with the ways in which “secret studies’ could lead to the “diabolic. ”(Vughan and Vaughan 64); however, as D.G. James points out in his book Prospero’s Dream, it is much more forgiving of male magicians than witches because “they are at least inspired by a true curiosity and are men of learning” (61). In his “Introduction,” King James[viii] claims that his treatise will “touch every particular thing of the devil’s power” (3), yet he proceeds to make a clear distinction: “There are principallie two fortes, where unto all the partes of that unhappie arte are redacted; whereof the one is called Magic or Necromancie, the other Sorcerie or Witch–craft” (4). Prospero seems to fit into the first category, especially given The Daemonologie’s classification of them as those who can have “brought unto them, all kindes of daintie dishes, by their familiar spirit” (“Preface” n.p.). Ariel is a “familiar spirit” who follows Prospero’s command, and the banquet in 3.3 features spirits who may be carrying the kind of “dantie dishes” James points to.[ix]Further, both McAdam’s reading of The Tempest as a play of “self-mastery” and Prospero’s identity as a magician seems accurate when we read in The Daemonologie that the “differences between witches and necromancers is that “Witches are servantes onlie and slaves to the Devil, but necromancers are his masters and commanders” (10).[x] This, I believe, is what P.G. James has in mind when he makes the point that for King James, necromancers like Prospero are ultimately “inspired by a true curiosity and are men of learning” who want to understand the workings of the world and are driven by a desire to access “divine things” (61). If Prospero is a necromancer, it does not account for wielding his magic in maleficent ways to enslave Caliban and Ariel.
There is little to distinguish Prospero’s malice from Sycorax’s when he threatens Ariel, “If thou more murmur’st. I will rend an oak/ And peg thee in his knotty entrails till/ Thou hast howled away twelve winters” (1.2. 294-296). This threat does not square with John S. Mebane’s consideration of Prospero as learned magus or wizard, in his seminal Renaissance Magic and the Return of the Golden Age:
…it is Prospero’s attainment of an unusual degree of harmony within his own personality which has conferred upon him his magical power. By mastering his passions and cultivating his higher faculties, Prospero has obtained the power to command the forces of nature, and in the course of the play he brings all of the other characters under the force of his control. (177)
While Prospero does cast off his “rough magic” (5.1.50) at the end of the play, his earlier use of it seems more in line with witchcraft than any sort of rationalized magic that arises out of his inner-harmony. The fact that he distinguishes his magic from “the charms/ of Sycorax—toads, beetles, bats…” (1.2.36) and sources the power of his magic in “books” (1.2. 57) does not diminish the fact that Prospero displays an engagement with the same demonic maleficence that witches were supposed to have employed. Taking a view antithetical to Mebane’s more positive outlook on magic in the play, in his book Magic and Masculinity in Early, Ian McAdam argues that “The Tempest is Shakespeare’s final, perhaps most telling, critique of early modern magical endeavor and its pernicious affect on masculine self-fashioning” in light of the fact that it is a play in which “the rigors of self-mastery are displaced or transformed into the satisfaction of control over other people” (311). I do not agree with McAdam that the play goes as far as to be a “critique” of magic to valorize it in Mebane’s sense; rather, in the play magic is a mutable construct defined by the gender of the agent who employs.
Prospero is employs magic that can only be described as witchcraft. D.G. James’ assessment of “learned” magic users does not entirely take into account Prospero’s use of— in everything but name—witchcraft. Ultimately, James takes a positive outlook on Prospero’s magic in a similar vein as Mebane: “ …the magic of Prospero is wholly good and belongs to a learned, noble, spiritual life. Shakespeare is careful, therefore, not to risk showing Prospero engaged in magical rite or incantation” (64-65). Yet, when we look at the speech wherein Prospero renounces his magic, the stage directions indicate he begins by drawing a circle before he evokes the spirits:
Ye elves of hills, of brooks, standing lakes and groves
And ye that on the sands with printless foot
Do chase the ebbing Neptune, and do fly to him
When he comes back; you demi-puppets that
By moonshine do the green sour ringlets make,
Whereof even the ewe not bites; and you whose pastime
Is to make midnight-mushrooms, by whose aid—
Weak masters though we may be—I have bedimmed
The noontide sun, Called for the multitudinous winds…(5.1.33-41)
Many scholars have considered the similarities between this speech and the Ancient Greek witch Medea’s speech in Ovid’s Metamorphosis and concluded that it is “Shakespeare’s signal that the magician’s power is not truly benign and must be rejected” (Bates, Ovid 254 as ctd. in Vaughan and Vaughan 66). However, even if we stay within the world of the play itself, Prospero’s speech draws direct parallels with Sycorax’s witchcraft. Prospero links himself with Sycorax’s “earthy and abhorred commands” (1.1.273) that employed “toads, beetles, bats” (1.2.341) when he evokes spirits connected to “lakes and groves” (5.1.33) and “midnight-mushrooms” (5.1.39). Perhaps the most direct link between Prospero’s speech and Sycorax’s witchcraft is his contention at the end of the play that the she could “control the moon, make flows and ebbs” (5.1.270) and his talk of “ebbing Neptune” (5.1.35), “moonshine”, (5.1.38), and the dark magic implied by him “bedimm[ing] the noontide sun” (5.1.41-42). While Vaughan and Vaughan make an excellent point when they say that in this speech “the distinction between the two types of magic is erased” (66) because of its associations with Ovid’s Medea, it is also important to take into account that this equivocation suggests that the only thing distinguishing the “two types” of magic is that one case it was employed by a man and in the other case by a woman.[xi] Drawing Prospero’s and Sycorax’s magic even closer, the name “Sycorax” is “from the Latin corax, which means raven” (Irene 83) and is an “oracular bird in Greek divination, a familiar of witches…and often a portent of death” (Warner qtd. in Irene 83). The speech reaches a crescendo that seems just as “dark” if not darker, than any of Sycorax’s magic: “…graves at my command/Have awaked their sleepers, ope’d and let’m forth/ By my so potent art” (5.1.48-50). With this in mind as we return to the “cloven pine,” the fact that when Prospero reminds Ariel of his enslavement to Sycorax and says that it was her “potent ministers” (1.2.275) that imprisoned the sprit draws a key parallel between his and Sycorax’s powerful magic.
As evidenced by the ideas put forth in tracts such as the Malleus Maleficarum and the The Daemonologie, the demonological links between women and witches had been well established by the Renaissance. Those same texts suggest that magic was an explicitly gendered construct that reflects anxieties about women, but also sexuality and motherhood. The “witching” of Sycorax takes up these ideas and positions her as an “other,” but any notion that Prospero’s is the moral victor in a battle between their “arts” (Traister 114) fails to recognize his engagement with the same type of arts. The very fact that he gives up his magic at the end of the play, which initially might suggest he has learned the error of his ways, reinforces the gendered binary of magic in The Tempest that provokes a colonialist discourse of the “other.”
by Nathan Mader, Winter 2016
[i] Broedel’s entry in The Oxford Handbook (44-48) offers further context.
[ii] Traister makes an interesting observation when she draws out why magic and characters who employ it might have been attractive to dramatists:
“Knowing that some of their contemporaries regarded magic as dangerous, unholy, or the work of the devil and that others—including some of Europe’s leading intellectuals—saw it as positive means of attaining wisdom and power with which to better the world, dramatists may have fastened upon magic, perhaps unconsciously, as an ideal image for conveying one view of man’s place in the universe.” (129)
[iii] Perhaps it simply speaks to Shakespeare’s facility with puns, but it is fascinating that after Prospero calls Sycorax a “damn’d witch” (1.2.263) he says Ariel’s captivity was “a torment/ To lay upon the damned, which Sycorax/ Could not again undo” (1.2.289-91).
[iv] Traister suggests that “Ariel provides proof of Prospero’s power, and helps explain how the play’s magic is performed. Prospero alone is not capable, if he is human, of raising a tempest or of making unearthly music. Only by gaining control of the spirits who manage the functioning of the natural world can a man accomplish what Prospero does; Ariel is a necessary intermediary. As such, he leaves Propsero’s humanity intact” (115).
[v] The central focus of Mowatt’s fascinating essay “Propspero’s Book” is that Prospero’s book was neither “Neoplatonic-Cabbalalistic” nor directly connected to witchcraft, but more in line with the sort of incantations found in a “grimoire” (25).
[vi] See Brown, “This Thing of Darkness,” in which Brown argues that Prospero acknowledges here his identification with Caliban’s “darkness” (140). I read this passage in the light of Caliban’s acceptance og “grace” as the inverse of Brown’s comment.
[vii] I am suggesting that Prospero enacts a witch persecution of Sycorax.
[viii] I use both King James title and D.G. James first initials to avoid confusion where appropriate.
[ix] See Sherron, “Poetry as Conjuring Act,” for an interesting consideration of the ways in which the banquet scene shows Prospero’s “mastery of stage technology” (340). As well as her contention that the fact “The Tempest contains more stage directions than any other of Shakespeare’s plays” (340) suggests it is play equally concerned with the magic of theatre as it is with literal magic.
[x] There is also a sense in which Prospero is a “slave” to his own magic.
[xi] If we consider their similar relationships to Ariel, another interesting similarity is that Sycorax enacted a gesture of colonization in the same way Prospero does.
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—. “Fifteenth Century Witch Beliefs.” The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Europe and Colonial America. Ed. Brian P. Levack. 32-49. Print.
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