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With deals made with the devil, the promise of base metals turned into gold, and charms cast over beasts, humans, and spirits, magic has a profound role in the drama of Early Modern England. Even more than magic, be it black or white, the magus repeatedly takes center stage in front of Elizabethan and Jacobean audiences. There exists a fascination in the period with unnatural or supernatural powers, especially in light of the reputations of figures such as the physician-magicians John Dee and Simon Forman, and even King James I. Yet the magic and magician that emerge in principal plays such as Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus (1592-93), Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist (1610), and William Shakespeare’s The Tempest (1611) draw from numerous, at times conflicting, sources of magical philosophy, from that of the natural to the demonic, and the learned to the popular. Furthermore, along the course of these dramas occurs a shift from the tragic danger of magic tied to sin and ungodliness, to the counterfeit “magic” tied to avarice and lust, and finally to the at times unbalanced, ultimately abjured, but still positive and productive magic tied to growth and virtue.



Thesis Comittee

James Crowley (Thesis Director)

Michael McClintock

Jadwiga Smith

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Original document was submitted as an Honors Program requirement. Copyright is held by the author.