The Epilogue of the Tempest by William Shakespeare is an excellent -- if
not the best -- example of Shakespeare's brilliance. In 20 lines Shakespeare
is able to write an excellent ending to his play, while speaking through his
characters about Shakespeare's own life and career. Even more amazingly, he
seemlessly ties the two together.
In the context of the story Prospero's monologue makes perfect sense.
He has lost his magical power, so his "charms are o'erthrown, and what
strength [Prospero] have's [his] own, which is most faint." He is now
"confined" on the Island, for his other choice would be to go to Naples and
reclaim his dukedom, but he doesn't want to do that because he has already
"pardoned the deceiver" who took his position many years ago. Prospero then
says something a little strange, but it makes sense in the context of the story,
he ask us to "release [him] from [his] bands with the help of your good hands."
In other words, clap so that the sails of the boats his friends are riding in
will be safely returned and Prospero can be "relieved by prayer" of the
All of what Prospero has said is very nice cute, but the most
interesting part of this monologue is what Shakespeare himself is saying. "Now
that my charms are all o'erthrown, and what strength I have's mine own" means,
now my plays are over, and it's no longer my characters speaking. The
"Island" or stage Shakespeare is on is now "bare" and it is time for "you" the
audience to release Shakespeare and his actors from this play with the "help of
[y]our good hands." Shakespeare was not only being released for the
performance of the play, he was being release from his career as a playwright.
But there are more reasons to clap besides the obvious reason that the play is
over, Shakespeare could not allow his final play to be bad, his project "was to
please." He reiterates this point by saying "and my ending is despair unless I
be relieved by... [continues]
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(1999, 10). The Tempest: Bringing It All Together. StudyMode.com. Retrieved 10, 1999, from http://www.studymode.com/essays/Tempest-Bringing-All-Together-1986.html
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