Essay PreviewMore ↓
One may find it ridiculous to contrast between Shakespeare and existentialism in its 20th century form, however one must keep in mind, that existentialism does not appear as a single philosophical system. It is more an attitude of life, a general vision - existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre is known to have stated that existentialism was never invented, it has always existed as the ultimate foundation. Upon that light, why not seek the foundations from the work of the forefather of all dramatists?
It is above all naïve to claim Prospero’s Epilogue in Shakespeare’s play The Tempest a mere conventional appeal for applause or the stripping of the imaginary glamour built up by the plays magic. Even the greatest of artists would rather give away his life than surrender his art to be judged solely by the public. Art for an artistic genius is practised for its own sake; art for the purpose of art. Existence for the sake of existence itself - stripped of meaning, of value and of subjective interpretation. In its bear meaningless form, something still remains: the necessary Natural Law, a philosophical concept considered the basis of human well-being, a system of the values that determine human existence.
Throughout The Tempest Prospero’s character portrays an image of a nearly Nietzchean superhuman capable of disclaiming authority, killing God. He is in control of every situation and event as if the chain of causes and effects would be a conductible melody waiting for an artist’s touch. On the other hand he is very human: a wronged duke and a father, a symbiosis which Shakespeare displayed with the use of Prospero’s garment as a theatrical tool. An artist is the creator, the maker of realities yet he remains human, an animal with feelings and urges, ties only waiting to be cut. The view implied is not far from the ideologies that emerged from the great suffering of the second world war: a man is capable of constructing himself a framework of personal and social meaning, but his true animal nature remains unchanged. In the heart of existence, life has no predefined meaning, it is a mere passage of survival from necessary birth to necessary death. Prospero's and his daughter's situation on the island was hopeless, however Prospero had chosen a function for his life - revenge. Prospero created a meaning for his life, built a synthetic reality to keep him sane on the path towards the finality of human death.
How to Cite this Page
"Existentialistic Analysis of the Epilog of The Tempest." 123HelpMe.com. 21 Jul 2018
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- An Analysis of Shakespeare's The Tempest There are many ways of interpreting Shakespeare's The Tempest. A Post-Colonialist critic, such as Stephen Greenblatt, will look at the influence of historical and political implications of colonialism on the text. Along these lines, a Reader Response critic, such as Paul Yachnin, will look specifically at Shakespeare's audience and their concerns at the time in which the play was written. Very different from these approaches, a Psychological critic, such as Bernard Paris, will completely ignore what was in the author's and audience's minds, and look at the psyche of the main character in the play.... [tags: Tempest Essays]
3495 words (10 pages)
- Psychoanalytic Analysis of Caliban and Trinculo of The Tempest From a psychoanalytic perspective, both Caliban and Trinculo of Shakespeare’s The Tempest are interesting characters. Caliban is very sexual and bitter, while Trinculo is at odds with everything: his situation of being washed ashore and wrongly accused of saying things when he did not utter a word, as well as Caliban’s worship of an unkingly man, his drunken friend Stephano. Caliban has obviously not had all of his desires trained to stay within him, despite Prospero’s punishments and Miranda’s schooling.... [tags: Shakespeare The Tempest]
511 words (1.5 pages)
- The similarities and differences between Aime' Cesaire's ATempest and William Shakespeare's The Tempest gives the reader an idea that it is a political response. From the way that both of the titles of these works of literature differ, an idea of concept is offered. They share a similar story line yet, after some one has read A Tempest : a different perspective is gained. A Tempest is actually considered a post colonial period piece of writing and one can acquire and prove this by the forms in which Aime' Cesaire portrays the characters and switches around their personalities and their traits,the time periods and the acquisition of language, and the ways power is used reveals that it is... [tags: Literary Analysis, Shakespeare, Classics]
1753 words (5 pages)
- A Jungian Interpretation of the Tempest Shakespeare’s Tempest lends itself to many different levels of meaning and interpretation. The play can be seen on a realistic plane as a tale of political power and social responsibility. It can be seen as allegory examining the growth of the human spirit. The Tempest investigates marriage, love, culture. It is symbolic of man’s rational higher instincts verses his animal natural tendencies. This is a play of repentance, power, revenge and fate that can also be seen as fantasy, dream, imagination, metaphor or magic.... [tags: Shakespeare The Tempest]
2401 words (6.9 pages)
- The first two acts of The Tempest share a couple of inconsequential similarities and have some very contrasting differences. The similarities are, on the whole, superficial: Both acts consist of just two scenes and both acts are of a similar length. However, the similarities end there. The lengths of the scenes in each act differ somewhat: Act 1 has one extremely short scene and one very lengthy scene; Act 2 is composed of two scenes of similar length. Also, the tone of each act is very different, with Act 1 being serious and composed, whilst Act 2 is more comic, often descending into pure farce.... [tags: The Tempest Essays]
1494 words (4.3 pages)
- The True Villain of The Tempest On June 2, 1609, five hundred colonists set out in nine ships from Plymouth in association with the imperial Virginia Company. It was the aim of this expedition to fortify John Smith's colony in Virginia. While eight of the party's vessels securely arrived at Jamestown, the flagship, called the “Sea Adventure” , was conspicuously absent. This ship --which carried the fleet's most valuable cargo, the admiral Sir John Somers and the future governor of Virginia Sir George Somers --was separated from the other eight during a fierce storm off the coast of Bermuda, the legendary Isle of Devils, dreaded by superstitious sixteenth-century sailors.... [tags: Shakespeare The Tempest]
993 words (2.8 pages)
- Tempest Character Analysis William Shakespeare's last play The Tempest is a story about Prospero (the rightful duke of Milan). He is betrayed by his brother Antonio and left on a ship with his daughter Miranda to die. Only things are not going according to plan and Prospero and Miranda arrive on an island. Prospero is seeking his revenge. Coming back from a wedding in Africa a ship containing Prosperos enemies is attacked by the tempest and scatters its passengers about the island. Prospero exhibits three major character traits: forcefulness, protectiveness and forgiveness.... [tags: Tempest essays]
628 words (1.8 pages)
- Caliban Portrayed as a Child in The Tempest Can a grown adult develop and act like a child? Shakespeaer's answer would have been yes. This fact is depicted through the character of Caliban. Caliban's speech and manners, as well as his thought, all display the very basic reactions and notions of human beings. He is also controlled by a parent figure who comes in the form of Prospero. An analysis of Caliban can hold him up to Piaget's Theory of Cognitive Development, which focuses on the development of children. Caliban, unquestionably, fits one of Piaget's developmental stages. Jean Piaget developed his Theory of Cognitive Senses in 1952. According to Piaget, as children dev... [tags: Tempest essays]
1887 words (5.4 pages)
- Quest for Power In The Tempest I suggest that engraved into humanity's essence is the intense desire for power. William Shakespeare's play, The Tempest not only depicts this concept, but breaks it down for the reader; enabling effective analysis of this concept. Through notable characterization, Shakespeare is able to convey key concepts regarding the idea of power versus ambition. Specifically, the role that ambition and the moderation of one's ambition play in the effectiveness of control.... [tags: Tempest essays]
1205 words (3.4 pages)
- The Theatre Metaphor in The Tempest The theatre metaphor also helps to explain why, in the last analysis, Prospero has to surrender his magical powers. Life cannot be lived out in the world of illusions, delightful and educative as they can often be. Life must be lived in the real world, in Milan or in Naples, and Miranda cannot thus entirely fulfill herself on the island. The realities of life must be encountered and dealt with as best we can. The world of the theatre can remind us of things we may too easily forget; it can liberate and encourage youthful wonder and excitement at all the diverse richness of life; it can, at times, even wake people up to more important issu... [tags: Tempest essays]
1027 words (2.9 pages)
The literatory image behind The Epilogue of The Tempest greatly involves the attitude and interpretation of art. Having constructed a window or more or less a door to an imaginary world for the audience, Shakespeare has succeeded in fusing art and reality. Upon that light it is incomprehensible to assume his need to address the subjective yet neutral third party, the audience - shatter the synthetic reality. However, The Epilogue is a beautiful and humble ending to a story filled with strong magical elements - the control is given to the audience, they are given Prospero’s magical garment. The passive third party is given a choice of interaction, chance to rise beyond spectatorship. An interesting aspect to The Epilogue of The Tempest is the fact that it was Shakespeare’s last play - the final words of a great artist. Due to the lack of historically trustworthy biographical information of Shakespeare’s character, it is difficult if not impossible to determine the effect of his life situation to the message itself. Whether justified or not, The Epilogue seems like a farewell - a humble artist handing over his life to the audience to which he has dedicated his entire life.
When examining The Epilogue with the restriction of intertextuality, one is forced to focus on the character of Prospero. Why does he leave a farewell, why does he become the ultimate link from the world of the play to the world of the third party, the audience. His importance as the narrator of The Epilogue creates a third dimension to his character traits, he becomes the God-figure that seems limited to living on a island yet he can perform metaphysical leaps between dimensions. The person speaking is the author himself, for in his art he has become God.
Rhythmically and structurally The Epilogue follows the same style and pattern as the entire play; rich in rhyme and in wording. The passage can be more or less distinctly separated into three equal parts. However every detail gives space for wide interpretation.
Now my charms are all o'erthrown, / And what strength I have's mine own,
Whish is most faint: now, 'tis true, / I must be here confin'd by you,
Or sent to Naples. Let me not, / Since I have my dukedom got,
The main structure of The Epilogue can be interpreted as the passage of a life. First the narrator enters the game of existence, appears from the womb: "And what strength I have's my own." As strongly claimed by Jean-Paul Sartre's metaphysics, birth to a person is a subjectively chosen process, emerged from the "charms" that are now, after birth "all o'erthrown". Using the presented division birth is followed by life itself, a search for a meaning and true freedom: "But release me from my bands." The narrator realises his situation on the island of life, in the world derived of meaning and purpose. He wants to be released from his misery - the only way he can achieve that is making his life worthwhile - giving up life would be a crime against Natural Law.
And pardon'd the deceiver, dwell / In this bear island by your spell;
But release me from my bands / With the help of your good hands:
The last segment of The Epilogue requests freedom by final death. The narrator has realised the purpose he has constructed for his life has been fully fulfilled. He wants to die with peace - he seeks acknowledgement for his life's successful passage. " As you from crimes would pardon'd be, / Let your indulgence set me free. "
Gentle breathe 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 in despair, / Unless I be reliev'd by prayer,
Which pierces so, that it assaults / Mercy itself, and frees all faults.
As you from crimes would pardon'd be, / Let your indulgence set me free.
One view The Epilogue can be examined upon is the fact that the artist, be it Shakespeare or Prospero as his creation declares himself detached from moral ties directed to towards the third party and, with refrence to Prospero’s use of power, the other characters of the play. This is a very important aspect in both the general basis of human nature and as the driving force of the artist, in this case Shakespeare. The Epilogue clearly claims that the cause-effect event-chain created by the artist was built free of ties - therefore to be judged with the appropriate honesty and freedom of attitude. One may question the necessity for such a statement, but considering the importance of theatre during Shakespeare’s era it has a certain logicality. Just as a true human, the human of the Natural Laws, is justified to assume a superhuman position, an artist, the creator, is justified to practice unconditional freedom.
Freedom is and element of the Natural Law - the system of necessities to justify a meaningful existence. However as the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre stated, freedom necessarily involves the property of responsibility. Man has unconditional freedom and self-defined moral ties yet he is responsible for following his own will with regard to his own value system. If responsibility is not utilized, man takes s step towards animal qualities, he does not fulfil the Natural Law. A similar pattern of freedom and responsibilities is presented in The Epilogue. Shakespeare has utilized unconditional freedom not only in his art but also in giving respect to the audience as the object of amusement: "Gentle breathe of yours my sails / Must fill, or else my project fails, / which was to please. Now I want / Spirits to enforce, Art to enchant ."
Analyst E. E. Stoll writes about The Tempest’s Epilogue: "One hopes that these sorry lines are not by Shakespeare."
Works Cited and Consulted
Davidson, Frank. “The Tempest: An Interpretation.” In The Tempest: A Casebook. Ed. D.J. Palmer. London: Macmillan & Co. Ltd., 1968. 225.
Kermode, Frank. Introduction. The Tempest. By William Shakespeare. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1958. xlii.
Solomon, Andrew. “A Reading of the Tempest.” In Shakespeare’s Late Plays. Ed. Richard C. Tobias and Paul G. Zolbrod. Athens: Ohio UP, 1974. 232.
Shakespeare, William. The Tempest. Ed. Frank Kermode. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1958.