William Shakespeare’s drama The Tempest features as its main character Prospero, the exiled duke of Milan who is also a powerful magician. Prospero lives on a small island with his daughter and two servants, one of whom is the magical “airy spirit” Ariel, who can assume any shape and perform virtually any task. I have depicted Prospero in his island dwelling wearing the mantle he describes as his “magic garment” which I have covered with various elemental, natural, and heraldic motifs.
Prospero has just summoned Ariel, who appears as a sphere of fire and light above his left hand. I have filled Prospero’s “cell” with objects I thought appropriate to a magician’s environment; among the seventy objects littering the room are: in the foreground is the title page to The Tempest in the 1623 folio of Shakespeare’s works; on the floor is Prospero’s large book of magic opened to a page showing St. George and the dragon (Shakespeare’s birth and death are traditionally observed on April 23rd=St. George’s Day); The top volume on the pile of books on the wooden chest is my own copy of the Riverside Collected Works of Shakespeare; a tin whistle, violin, cello, and harp represent the music which features heavily in the play-Prospero’s island is, according to one character, “…full of noises, sounds and sweet airs…sometimes a thousand twangling instruments will hum about mine ears…”.
Through the window a small beach is visible where shipwrecked castaways will soon arrive and provide the catalyst for the drama which ensues.
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