The play ends with an epilogue by Prospero, the main character of the play. (It is a speech by one of the characters to the audience to give some additional information). Prospero addresses the audience and tells them that he is a mere actor and that he has no magical powers. He has come to take leave and go back to Naples. He has got back his dukedom and pardoned the treacherous enemies, and so he must not be kept in this lonely island by their influence. He should be set free form his captivity. They should give a parting applause. He needs their good wishes which would wind to their sails. If he does not get their good wishes, all his desires to please them will fail. Now he has no spirits under his command to carry out his orders by the power of magic. His life will be full of despair if he is not relieved by prayers which have the power to reach the divine mercy and get pardon for all his faults. As they wish to be pardoned for their sins, he wishes to be pardoned for all his sins by them. They should show their compassion for him.
In the epilogue , Prospero addresses the audience and requests them to clap and applaud the play. Then he says that since he has no magic power and no spirits under his command to carry out his orders, he must be allowed to leave the island and go back to Naples. Prospero’s plan of peaceful retirement and the fact of the play being Shakespeare’s last made some critics conjecture that Prospero in the play is Shakespeare himself.
Significance of the Epilogue
- It is the dramatist’s personal address to the audience, generally spoken by one of the actors.
- Shakespeare here seems to bid farewell to the audience and inform them of his intent to renounce the dramatic art (allegorised by Prospero’s intent to give up magical powers).
spell : magic
despair : hopelessness
assaults : attacks
indulgence : affection