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Prospero's Problem With Perfection Essay

Project id 1015776
Subject area Other
Document type Essay
Words 1105
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Prospero's Problem With Perfection: Why Magic Is Not Enough Giovanni Pico's Oration on the Dignity of Man boosts the perfectibility of humankind. In the oration, Pico introduces a particular, sequential program for man's religious ascendancy to godly flawlessness. And yet Pico's program is dealt with a literary blow in William Shakespeare's The Tempest when the protagonist, heard mage Prospero, is unable to finish Pico's curriculum and stops his magic entirely. The divergent view of man expressed in these two works exists on several levels, but I feel the essential tension is revealed in the part of a single personality in The Tempest: the misshapen manservant Caliban. Caliban is gruesome and foundation. Arguably, his external ugliness reflects a moral hideousness within. Cosmo Corfield, in his scholarly article Why Does Prospero Abjure His "Rough Magic"? Explicates this relationship when he partners "Caliban's bestiality with a propensity to evil" But, Caliban's consignment to the kingdom of vice and evil has to be analyzed more carefully. Is Caliban so evil? Is earthiness necessarily linked to immorality? Understanding the character of Caliban is necessary to understanding why Prospero is not able to accomplish perfection. Pico's application for man's perfectibility is made up of three stages. He sees men as "first being purified, then illuminated, then eventually made perfect" (16). These stages also follow in stiff sequence. Purification is achieved by "refraining the impulses of our passions through moral science... by dissipating the darkness of motive by dialectic" (16). Once cleansed of the "filth of ignorance and vice," we can then "suffuse our purified spirits with the light of natural philosophy" (16). After illuminat...

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