Intro to Literary Study (2005)

23 Feb 2005
Beauregard, ''New Light on Shakespeare's Catholicism: Prospero's Epilogue in The Tempest''

Beauregard, David N. ''New Light on Shakespeare's Catholicism: Prospero's Epilogue in The Tempest.'' Renascence 49.3 (1997) 16p. Academic Search Elite. Reeves Library, Seton Hill Unviersity. 21 Feb 2005.

Prospero's epilogue can be plausibly interpreted as Shakespeare's personal farewell to the stage (I hasten to add that such an interpretation is not essential to my argument--the lines still are among Shakespeare's last and still have a Catholic tenor). There is a strong autobiographical motif in the play itself. Prospero gives an early recounting to Miranda of their past life (1.2), and in the play's concluding lines he promises to tell "the story of my life," a phrase twice repeated (5.1.303, 312). In conjunction with these lines, the referential discontinuities between the play and Prospero's farewell occur with their rich suggestiveness. Everyone is familiar with the "revels" speech in which the phrases "our revels," "our actors," "the great globe itself," and "this insubstantial pageant" (4.1.148-58) allude to dramatic realities outside the play itself. So also with the epilogue. At the finish of the action of the play itself, Prospero-as-character is not bound, he is no longer confined to "this bare island." His project has not been merely to please, he is not in despair, and he has no need of the aid of others, discontinuous details which would seem clearly to provoke an autobiographical interpretation of the speech. Shakespeare-as-actor is bound and confined to the stage, he has been concerned to please, his old age would dispose him to despair, and he clearly would have need of others. These dramatic discontinuities force us to look for referential continuities outside the speech itself in the actor's life.
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