Many people have brought up different discoveries about the epilogue in “The Tempest” and I thought I’d jump onto the bandwagon. In class, we talked about how Prospero rhymes in the epilogue and that when a character rhymes in a Shakespearean play, it signifies the character’s importance in the play. However, in this speech, Prospero is speaking to the audience about how they actually had/have the control during the play. Because the speech shows Prospero’s power and significance in the play and having him tell the audience that they had the power all along, I epilogue this as a contradiction. Do you guys find this contradicting? What else do you see revealed through his rhyming and message?
In the plat The Tempest, a ton of leaving takes place in the play. First Prospero and Miranda leaving Milan, then the ship leaving Milan, and everyone leaving the island at the end of the play. However after leaving becomes arrival, just as the saying about closing one door and opening another. Every time a character closes a door of their own they open another door that leads to a plethora of opportunities. For Prospero specifically he closes multiple doors at one time, leaving one open that leaded him back to where he came from. Now he is going back to the start his “little life is rounded with sleep” (133). Prospero has made a full circle in his lifetime and now has no choice but to follow it until the end.
The epilogue and the finale of the play is a scene where Prospero bids gives up his magical powers, his cloak and his staff, and his power on the island when he decides to return to Milanand resume his duke status there. We discussed in class that this was a metaphor for Shakespeare himself who resigned his writing, or his power of the characters, when he finished his last play, the Tempest. I wanted to expand upon this idea and say it could even represent his death. Assuming he held the widespread belief of Christianity or even just believed in an afterlife, the leaving of the island could represent leaving of this earth. By returning to Milan, where he came from, it could be like returning to heaven, where we also came from. Aging and being on the precipice of death is portrayed in “Now my charms are all o’erthrown, / what strength I have’s mine own.” When Prospero says “Our revels now are ended” the revel could be his life. In Act 5 we see a sort of judgment hour happen when Prospero examines his enemies and speaks of their sin, yet ultimatly forgiveing all of them. This could be seen as Shakespeare pardoning his enemies. By asking the audience to clap, Prospero breaks the 4th wall and hands over the power to the audience and resigning his own power. If this epilogue is a metaphor for death, Shakespeare is using it to give his last wishes and say goodbye.
As we wrap up on the Tempest I want to discuss a little bit about the epilogue. Knowing this was Shakespeare’s last play this epilogue is in a sense, his last hoorah. At the end of the play Prospero frees everyone from the charms he has been keeping them under and now that we have reached the end of the play he addresses the audience and suggests that he too, is trapped. Thus, he gives the audience the ultimate power. This helps develop Prospero’s character as one that is not power hungry but merely seeking justice. He gives the audience the ultimate power to send him back to Milan (breath of yours my sails must fill) or to keep him trapped on the island. Also, in addressing their hands he is basically just asking them for an applause. He also addresses death with “my ending” which reveals that now that the play is over he is now ready for death, In the very last line he says, “Let your indulgence set me free.” The use of indulgence as the note in the book states, has another meaning besides enjoyment, addressing theological indulgences during the time where buying indulgences from the church could free you from the punishment merited by sin. This double meaning contributes that the play itself can be an escape from sin and reality for the audience and in indulging in it it sets Prospero free. It’s ironic that Prospero is ultimately under the control of the audience considering the entire play he appears as the most powerful one. Do you guys think this was a good way for Shakespeare to end his last play or should he have done something different with the epilogue?
As Christine and Kelsey have touched on earlier, the debate between revenge and justice is a huge one. In The Tempest, Prospero has the opportunity to carry out the ultimate form of revenge by killing Antonio, Alonso and the whole crew during the storm created by Ariel. He instead allows them to arrive on the island, and he elongates their torture through a series of magical events. To me, this connects to the idea of the death penalty (a quick, relatively easy death) as reparation for a crime versus life in prison (a long drawn out punishment). In the Tempest, Prospero chooses to draw out the punishment and make the evil men feel guilty, vulnerable and homesick instead of killing them right away. He would rather have them feel true guilt than die immediately. In The Tempest as in real life, there is a line between justice and revenge. In our legal system today, we have both the death penalty and a life sentence in prison. Does the death penalty classify as revenge while the life sentence in prison as justice? Or are both acts of justice against convicted criminals?
This quote of Prospero’s reminded me of Caliban’s speech about the island (Act 3 scene 2, lines 148-156) when he talks about all the magical happenings of the island. In Caliban’s opinion all the sounds and spirits of the island and harmless and the island is wonderful. However, in Prospero’s note here we see that although the island is full of magic, this isn’t necessarily as great as Caliban sees it. The magic of the island that Caliban talked about, like the “sounds and sweet airs” cause Alonso and company to question the world around them and what is real and what isn’t. Also in this scene Prospero is having his sort of last hoorah with his magic before giving it up so in noting that the island causes people to question realities he could also be referring to the negative side of magic. This is a first for Prospero considering the entirety of the play thus far we have seen Prospero using magic to his advantage. With this view of the island readers can further see a change in Prospero from being strictly power hungry to being more forgiving and human in a sense.
First, the ambiguity.
The most ambiguous and ever changing character in The Tempest is the one and only Ariel (my personal favorite). Ariel’s character is a spirit whom does not have a gender (but Prospero calls Ariel “he”), age, race, culture, sex, etc., but Ariel does have a connection to Prospero until set free. His attachment to Prospero allows the readers a way to envision a face behind the personality of Ariel, though Shakespeare does not give evidence to support any of the ideas. Ariel’s ambiguity directly relates to the optical illusion above because, like Ariel, the photo can be seen as multiple things, but no one knows exactly what it is. In this case the photo is a glass or two faces (fewer options than Ariel), but both options can not be proven 100% true. Just because Prospero calls Ariel “he” does not automatically make Ariel a man.
In the beginning of Act 4, Scene 1, when Prospero allows Ferdinand to marry Miranda, I can’t help but notice the language that objectifies Miranda. Prospero describes Miranda as “my gift” or “my rich gift.” Propsero also says, “she is thine own,” implying that Ferdinand now owns Miranda and this is the act of passing on that ownership. Within that conversation, Prospero and Ferdinand never mention her name. Instead, she is mentioned as “my daughter” and “my gift,” which emphasizes Miranda’s objectification.
In The Tempest there are a lot of similarities with the epic poem we are currently reading in Latin class, Virgil’s The Aeneid. The fact that an intense, scary storm places the foreign men on a new, unfamiliar island where they must learn to survive, occurs in both works. But more intriguing in my opinion, is the mystic/magical/fatalistic experiences and events which occur in both works. In The Aeneid, the gods continuously influence and interfere in the lives of the humans to ensure that everything is playing out according to the predetermined fate. Similarly, in The Tempest, Prospero has all the power on the island, and he can manipulate and interfere in the lives of Alonso, Gonzalo, Antonio, Sebastian and all the other men (and Miranda) to ensure that all of them play into his desired plan. The question of whether humans really have control over the course of their lives is examined in both works. This idea is interesting because even in our society today, people have various opinions about whether all of our lives have a predetermined fate which is unchangeable or if there is a God who has a preset plan or if we as humans have the power to control and manipulate our own destinies. What do you guys think about this idea?
While reading our latest assignment of The Tempest, Act IV, I was astonished to realize how similar it was to today’s soap operas, dramas, or reality TV. We are about to get a happily ever after, the marrige of Miranda and Ferdinand, but WAIT past drama, Caliban’s murderous plot, surfaces causing Prospero to hault the services and dramatically exit. A common tactic to lengthen movies, keep watchers tuned in, or just a hook to hold people though commercials is about 3/4 of the way though, cause drama, something critical that could ruin the imminent happy ending. By giving a taste of the good, by showing us a bit of the wedding, the watchers/readers get excited for the ending, ready to watch it. Throwing in the drama gets the watchers more invested because they understand what is at stake if the crisis is not resolved. Shakespeare employs this tactic when we get to see Ferdinand finally free and ready to marry and then throws in Caliban, Triculo, and Stephano’s plot to rile up the audience against them and keep them involved.
Many people say that Hollywood takes Shakespear and ruins it by adding unnessasary drama or artistic flair. Critics point to Romeo + Juliet, She’s the Man, Westside Story, 10 Things I Hate About You, and Independance Day saying that the drama was not true to the story and takes away from Shakespeares masterpieces. But its interesting to see that even back then he shamelessly used a reality tv device of hooking the reader. Maybe he wasn’t as stuffy as we all think.
The famous Leonardo DaVinci painting portrays a healthy woman who welcomes all that come her way. She welcomes everyone, just as the new world welcomes millions of people seeking new found opportunities. The Mona Lisa and the New World are both healthy, fertile, pure, new and welcoming, and they share their virtues with Miranda. Miranda is new and innocent like the land she lives on, she welcomes Ferdinand and worries for Prospero’s ship and crew members. Miranda represents the future of the population of the new world to Caliban, but to Prospero she represents his journey back to dukedom. The Mona Lisa also has a beauty that no one can ignore. Miranda, to Ferdinand, is “So perfect and so peerless, are created/ Of every creature’s best.” as Mona Lisa is to Leonardo DaVinci.