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To What Extent is The Tempest a Play About the Power of the Theatre There can be no doubt that The Tempest contains numerous references to the theater and while many of Shakespeares plays make reference to the dramatic arts and their analogy to real life eg all the worlds a stage it is in this his last play that the Bard most explicitly acknowledges that the audience is viewing a show Thus in the plays final scene Prospero tells his prospective son-in-law Ferdinand that the revels at hand are almost at an end that the actors are about to retire and that the insubstantial pageant of which he has been a part has reached its conclusion It is in fact tempting to equate the character of Prospero with that of his creator the playwright Shakespeare When Prospero sheds his magicians robes in favor of his civilian attire as the Duke of Milan with the benefit of hindsight that this is Shakespeares last work and his crowning achievement we are disposed to associate the learned sorcerer with the Bard of Avon Prospero like Shakespeare is a mature man with a daughter Shakespeare having two daughters at the height of his intellectual and creative powers Prospero is a polymath a scholar with a magic book from an entire library that so absorbed him that it was dukedom large enough I ii l110 Prospero displays a tinge of regret for having neglected his worldly office as Duke of Milan in favor of the life of the mind Similarly as virtually all of Shakespeares biographers have observed the Elizabethan playwrights knowledge was exceedingly broad leading many to speculate that he pursued a number of vocations before settling into a life in the theater and we know from textual correspondences that Shakespeare was broadly read and that he continued to absorb knowledge from diverse publications until his death We can also speculate that Shakespeare regretted remaining
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