Friday, March 06, 2009

Epilogue to The Tempest by William Shakespeare

In a remarkably contemporary moment at the end of The Tempest, Shakespeare's wizard Prospero addresses the audience directly, breaking down the boundaries of the play. He informs them that the play is over, his powers are gone, and thus his escape from the play's island setting depends on their applause--that they, in effect, get to decide his fate.

He pulls a similar trick with Puck at the end of A Midsummer Night's Dream


Now my charms are all o'erthrown,
And what strength I have's mine own,
Which is most faint. Now, 'tis true,
I must be here confined by you,
Or sent to Naples. Let me not,
Since I have my dukedom got
And pardoned the deceiver, dwell
In this bare island by your spell,
But release me from my bands
With the help of your good hands.
Gentle breath of yours my sails
Must fill, or else my project fails,
Which was to please. Now I want
Spirits to enforce, art to enchant,
And my ending is despair,
Unless I be relieved by prayer,
Which pierces so that it assaults
Mercy itself and frees all faults.
As you from crimes would pardoned be,
Let your indulgence set me free.



William Shakespeare 1564-1616

17 Comments:

Blogger ginger said...

how could anyone leave him trapped there with that wonderful plea? i wanted to applaud for his release just sitting here reading it.

i think you should adopt some of octo-mom's kids angelina...

1:35 AM  
Blogger fiat lux said...

Breaking the "4th wall" was not a modern innovation, it was not uncommon in Shakespeare's day.

1:18 PM  
Blogger gmoke said...

Who knew that Prospero was related to Tinkerbell?

3:27 PM  
Blogger Princess Haiku said...

These words remind me of a college prof I had who was a frustrated actor. He used to stand on top of his desk and read Shakespeare in costume. He especially liked the Tempest. Lit students are cheated if they don't have at least one lunatic, frustrated thespian instructor.

3:19 AM  
Anonymous Frank said...

My favorite play of all time, realistic and hopeful at once, so it resonates especially in these times.

Miranda: "O brave new world that hath such people in it." Prospero: "Tis new to thee."

Thanks for bringing it to us.

1:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've read recently, from an article by W.H. Auden, that there is some doubt on the authorship of the Epilogue, but not the rest of the play.

This is as far as Auden went; does anybody have further light to shed on this conspiracy?

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