Prospero’s epilogue at the conclusion of The Tempest provides interesting parallels to its author’s life. Written near the end of his career, numerous scholars suggest that it is Shakespeare’s written farewell. Just as Shakespeare sculpts a world from nothing, Prospero authors the events on the island. Prospero’s monologue flows naturally with the story and provides a natural ending to the work.
He describes the loss of his magical power at the beginning of his monologue when he says, My charms are all o’erthrown, and what strength I have’s mine own, which is most faint.” He remains confined on the island because he has already pardoned the deceiver and does not wish to return as the Duke of Naples. He follows this with a peculiar request of those listening to “release me from my bands with the help of your good hands.” This could be seen literally as a request of the audience to clap so that the sails of the boats will be filled for his friends’ return trip home. Contrast this to what Shakespeare is voicing through Prospero. “Now that my charms are all o’erthrown, and what strength I have’s mine own,” takes on a new meaning.
Now his plays have ended, and anything more he yearns to say can only come directly from him, not through his characters. Furthermore, the Island” or stage Shakespeare is on is now “bare,” and it is time for the audience to release him and his from the play with the “help of your good hands.” Not only was he requesting release from the performance, but from his career as a playwright. In addition, the audience’s pleasure fills his sails, or makes him happy. If no one finds pleasure in his works, then what he sent out to accomplish has not been achieved. Finally, after separating the perspectives, one can see how closely they are intertwined.
This is evidenced through the puns found throughout the epilogue, such as the aforementioned faint” and “please”. Just as Shakespeare creates different worlds in each of his plays and dictates the actions within them, so does Prospero on his island where he has control of the outcome of the occurrences.
Shakespeare’s magic is in the world he creates. He is the magician and the stories are his tricks.