The Tempest

Debatable points

Shakespeare's Farewell to the Theatre

Was The Tempest really Shakespeare’s farewell to theatre? As Shakespeare wrote the play towards the end of his career there has been much discussion over its autobiographical nature. Some believe it was Shakespeare’s way of saying goodbye to his art and beloved audiences. There are claims that when Prospero breaks his staff it in fact symbolises Shakespeare breaking his quill, and when Prospero asks for the audience’s “indulgence” (Act 5, Scene 1) to set him free, it is Shakespeare requesting them to release him from his art with a final round of applause. Many academics however feel that this way of looking at the play is reductive. Author of Shakespeare’s Language, Frank Kermode, states that, “attempts to provide it with a close relationship to the author’s life are a mark of respect; and so, one hopes, are the readings that exaggerate the play’s relevance to Jacobean colonialism. Of course, it cannot be said that neither of these relationships exists, only that they are secondary to the beautiful object itself’.

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