The Supernatural Element in the Play The Tempest

The Elizabethans believed in witches, fairies and other supernatural agencies. The belief in witchcraft and magic was common. The introduction of fairies and goblins did not strike them as strange or unnatural. Even a learned person like Thomas Browne believed in witches. The Elizabethans, who believed in the supernatural and were hungry for excitement, must have keenly enjoyed the fairies in The Midsummer Night’s Dream, the witches in Macbeth and the ghosts in Hamlet and Julius Caesar.

Supernaturalism is a phenomenon which cannot be explained with the help of science. The belief in the supernatural has been universal in all ages. During the Elizabethan Period (1558 1603), the people irrespective of literate and illiterate kept faith in the supernatural elements. In The Tempest, Shakespeare introduces supernatural elements and incidents to thrill his audience. Here the supernatural acts as a powerful divine force.

Also Read : 


Skepticism had increased for a while but the coming of James I to London stimulated popular interest in the occult and magic, James himself had written a book on the subject, Daemonologic. “It may be”, says J. R. Sutherland, “that in Prospero and his magic we have a dramatic study undertaken with at least one eye on the known interest of the learned Scottish king”. In The Tempest Shakespeare has vividly described the supernatural world. We have in the play fairies like Ariel and his ministers, a witch like Sycorax, a deformed monster, Caliban, the goddesses Ceres and Iris, and the greatest of them all, Prospero and magician, the symbol of Providence. The play is full of magic and enchantment, the baffling, noises, sounds and sweet airs, shifting base of illusions and the bewildering confusions. Caliban expresses the Supernatural atmosphere on the enchanted island thus :

the isle is full of noise,……… to dream again.



Leave a Comment