Prospero’s Epilogue Introduction: In this assignment I am going to talk about The Tempest by Williams Shakespeare. It is the last play that Shakespeare wrote before his death. It is one of the most magical plays written by him, and also a play that have the topic of colonialism, which was one of the most important topics of the era. Plot: The Tempest is a play about a man called Prospero who used to be the duke of Milan. He was more concerned with his studies in magic than in his dukedom, so his brother stole his dukedom from him and cast Prospero and Prospero’s daughter Miranda out to the sea.
Thanks to a friend they managed to survive living in a desert island where Prospero kept learning magic and managed to control the spirits from there. The play starts with a tempest made by one of the spirits, Ariel, and Prospero’s magic arts and designed to sink a ship and the people inside, because they are Prospero’s brother and some friends of his. In the island everyone gets lost and separated into few groups, and as they go around the island, they find some tricks that Prospero has planned to reunite all of them in his cave. Once he gets to reunite all of them, they are surprised to find that he is still alive.
Prospero has a speech, then he forgives everyone and get his dukedom back. His daughter Miranda get to marry with the son of the king of Naples, Ferdinand. Prospero released all the spirits and decided to give up with magic and travel with the other men to Milan for his daughter wedding. Analysis of the text: The exactly point that I am going to use in this assignment is Prospero’s epilogue at the end of the play. The first thing that we can take out of this epilogue is that it is a break with the rest of the play. In the epilogue, Prospero is talking with the public that it is supposed to be watching the play in the theatre.
What Shakespeare is doing with that idea is taking the public as a character itself in the play, and, in some way, taking him the role of Prospero, mixing real life with the life of the story. This could be seen as a break in the “magic” of the play, because now, Prospero is talking to the rest of the people. But I think that the idea of Shakespeare is to introduce all of us in the island and make us be a part in the events that are about to happen. He even makes Prospero ask to ourselves for his release from the island, as we can see in: “But release me from my bands with the help of your good hands” (5. 1. 369-70).
He also makes us a transcendental part in the course of his journey, as we can see in “Gentle breath of yours my sails must fill”(5. 1. 371-72). With that, Shakespeare is not only asking the release of Prospero, but his own release too. It is true that in his case, the release is not from the island, it is from the stage. Maybe this is due to fact that, after The Tempest was finished, Shakespeare left London, and went to live in Stratford. In keeping with the story, since the beginning, he tells us that he has lost his magic powers due to the fact he has released all the spirits. Now he only counts with his strength.
This is not much as we can see here, “And what strength I have’s mine own, which is most faint”(5. 1. 362-63). From these word we can take a subliminal message that could be that Prospero is going to die soon because now he feels that not much strength remains with him. Considering that now he has almost completed all the things that he wanted to do, maybe is the message that Shakespeare want to give with that sentence. To reinforce this idea we have “where every third thought shall be my grave” (5. 1. 348-49). It is said by Prospero when he is talking with the rest of the people in the island.
Clearly he seems to know that death is close. The following thing that Prospero says is a request, he seems to be confined in the island, confined until we let him go letting him know that he has commited his idea which was to please. He is afraid to get trapped in the island because of us “dwell in this bare island by your spell, but release me from my bands” (5. 1. 367-68). It is also as if he were asking for our forgiveness for all the things that he has done to the other characters of the play and his behavior. If he gets what he wants, his release, what he wants to do after that is go to Naples.
This makes perfect sense with the rest of the play because he goes to Naples to be at his daughter’s wedding with the son of the king of Naples. This quotation it is also a good parallel that connects the situation that Prospero has now with the situation that the other characters had before. They were trapped in the island by Prospero’s spell, now Prospero is the one who is trapped by our spell. According to the story, Naples is going to be his first stop once he get out of the island,” I must be here confined by you, or sent to Naples”(5. 1. 364-65).
The second and final one is Milan, where he is going to get his place as duke back again. That it is what he wanted when he commanded Ariel to start the tempest, a revenge from his brother and recover the dukedom his brother stole from him. It is pretty good how Shakespeare connects the place of Milan with the whole story because, originally, Prospero take the chance to commit his revenge because the king of Naples has to go to Tunis to assist his daughter’s wedding and luckily Prospero’s brother was in the ship with him. It is interesting how at the end they have to go to Naples again to assist another wedding.
They also go in the same ship that after the tempest still remains in perfect condition. The speech he also talks about how he has forgiven his brother for having stolen his dukedom is really surprising. We have to bear in mind that he organized and started the storm, he left them walk around the island alone, afraid, and with any knowledge about what is happening. All of that happens just because Prospero had a lot of hate, he is looking for revenge. That’s why it is really surprising how easily Prospero gets to eliminate his rage.
The only thing he does is talk to his enemies, express all the feeling that he has had inside of him all this time, and after that, he just forgive them. He just eliminated all his hate so easy. It is good that at the end, Shakespeare chooses to reinforce the good feelings and tries to show that inside of people are always light and good intentions, but, according to reality, it is weird that Prospero gets to eliminate a hate that he has been feeding during years. Maybe, if Prospero would have made a last thing of revenge or, if he would have shown that forgetting everything was a little more difficult, the end of the play would ave been more realistic according to human nature. One of the things that the epilogue doesn’t clarify from the story is what happen to Caliban. All the spirits now are released and Prospero even says that in the epilogue “Now I want Spirits to enforce” (5. 1. 373-74) but, does Caliban remain in the island? Does he leave with the others? Even though that The Tempest is a play about colonialism, Caliban doesn’t seems to have any importance to Prospero, and maybe this is one of the motives why Prospero doesn’t even mention what it is going to happen with him. Shakespeare as a character:
Another important thing to take into account is the role of Shakespeare as a character itself in this epilogue. As I wrote before, there are a lot of similarities between Prospero and Shakespeare in this epilogue. It is as if Shakespeare were talking through Prospero, and asking for permission to retire from the scene. But it is not just that, what Shakespeare is really asking is for permission to even retire himself from playwriting. What Prospero is going to have in Milan is what Shakespeare wanted in his retire to Stratford, both of them just want some relaxation.
He felt that he hasn’t got the strength that he used to have, they are feeling old. Shakespeare, like Prospero, was waiting for his death and actually Shakespeare died a little bit after that. That is why in this play it is so important for him to receive the support of the public. Due to the fact this is his last play, Shakespeare cannot allow to his last play to be bad, so for him become really important to please the public in that play. Shakespeare’s religion in the play Another thing to take into account is that the epilogue is also understood as a representation of the catholic ideologies that Shakespeare is understood to have.
We can see that in “As you from crimes would pardoned be, Let your indulgence set me free. ” (5. 1. 379-80). It is like the end of the pray, when people are asking God to forgive their sins as they do with the other people’s sins “and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us” (Lord’s Prayer). There are a lot of people who thinks that this is written in that way because Shakespeare was Christian, and he was giving the role of God to the public in the theatre. Comparison with a Midnight Summer Dream
Another thing to say about the epilogue is that this one is recognized as one of the best endings to all plays that Shakespeare ever wrote. But he has used this type of ending in other plays, and an example of that it is A Midnight Summer Dream . He lets a character of the play say goodbye to the public. In A Midnight Summer Dream, Puck is the character choose to say goodbye to the public, asking for applause, and summarize in a certain way the story that we have ended to see and add more information to it. Conclusion
As we have seen in this essay, this epilogue is like the perfect ending for the play. It gives us more information about what is going to happen to Prospero and some of the other characters of the play. It also lets us know information about the writer himself. Shakespeare gets with this epilogue one of the biggest closure to all his career, if not the best one, as a play writer. Thanks to this epilogue, he can go being one of the biggest writers of all times, and also fulfilling his duty, entertain and please people.