Three of the main characters in this play are Prospero, Ariel and Caliban; these characters can be interpreted to represent significant roles in the theatre which are the roles of playwright, stagehand and actor. Prospero is the protagonist and both Caliban and Ariel are his servants. However, there is a stark difference in the relationship dynamics between the two servants and Prospero. Prospero’s magic is referred to as his art throughout the play by Miranda, “If by your art” (I.ii.1), by Caliban, “his art is of such power” (I.ii.374), and even by Prospero, “By my so potent art” (V.i.50). This reference reveals Prospero’s character as an artist rather than a sorcerer, this...
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... / Since I have my dukedom got” (Epilogue.1, 6). He asks the audience to reaffirm his achievements so he may retire content with his work, “But release me from my bands / With the help of your good hands” (Epilogue.8, 9). Reading this play on a figurative level it is clear that The Tempest was intended to be Shakespeare’s final play.
Shakespeare uses an allegorical narrative to write about the art of theatre. He uses the characters to represent different aspects of the theatre, while also using language and scenes to remind the audience that they are watching a play. This play demonstrates the blurring and sharpening of the border between art and reality. Shakespeare uses his art to reflect reality through various lenses, while reflecting his art as well. This self-reflexive play was the ideal outlet for Shakespeare to bid farewell to play writing and the theatre.
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