February 15, 2007

Shakespeare's Encore

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 bonds
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 The Tempest

The epilogue of Shakespeare's The Tempest is a beautifully written plea for applause. I love it.
Shakespeare's The Tempest is one of the better known but not as highly studied works. I'll admit, I had to look back on this play in order to be truly in touch with its critical readings and the epilogue is what brought the biggest smile to my face.
The use as a scene to forgive Prospero the various schemes he initiates doubling over as a curtain call is a reminder that this was indeed a play that took place in front of a live audience - not just studied and savored by the crazy English majors of the world (myself included).
This simple reminder helps to serve the point for the value of historical reference inside literature. For after all, Shakespeare really did want a lot of applause at the close of his play . . .

Posted by Diana Geleskie at February 15, 2007 11:14 AM | TrackBack
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