I explore the failures of Prospero’s magic in the context of the public conflict over memory systems that pitted Giordano Bruno’s image-rich magical system (propagated by Alexander Dicson) against the iconoclastic methods favored by the Cambridge Ramists (spearheaded in print by Rev. William Perkins) in late Elizabethan England. The strongly visual and theatrical strategies employed by Prospero (most notably in the play’s two masques), coupled with the dependence of his magic on memory and the forced rewriting or imposition of memory, suggest that his magic is both neo-Platonic in form and specifically linked to the magical memory system described by Bruno. As a magician, Prospero tries to assert his power by controlling memory, revising history to reflect his desired narrative. However, his attempts to superimpose his own narrative are repeatedly resisted, interrupted, and rejected. Given these failures to control either his own plans or his subjects, I’d like to suggest that Prospero’s magic, most particularly in its image-rich masques and focus on memory, stages a parodic interrogation of this debate over memory and memory systems. And while resistance does not itself invalidate his magical theories, Prospero’s attempts at memory manipulation notably succeed only in altering his own interpretation of events; his inability to recognize his failure thus points to the inherently self-deceiving nature of his art. This frame enables us to consider Prospero not simply a positive or negative figure, but as one who calls into question not simply his own skill, but the basic validity of the magical system he employs.