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How does Act 5 Scene 1 of The Tempest reflect major themes of the play?

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isabel17 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted January 21, 2013 at 8:20 PM via web

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How does Act 5 Scene 1 of The Tempest reflect major themes of the play?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 22, 2013 at 6:39 AM (Answer #1)

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The final scene of this play of course draws many of the themes together, welding them into some form of resolution. One of the biggest themes that can be witnessed in this final scene is the way that Prospero, who started the play so powerful and full of authority thanks to his magical arts, strips himself of every spell and charm and becomes just an old man who forgives his enemies and is happy to sacrifice his magic to go back to his home in Milan so he can see his daughter married and he can return to his former position. Note how he expresses this:

And thence retire me to my Milan, where

Every third thought shall be my grave.

The audience witnesses the transformation of Prospero from a god-like figure who controls every single aspect of this play like a stage manager to an old, frail man who himself says in the Epilogue that the only strength he now has is his own, which is "most faint." Power and its renunciation is therefore a key theme in this play, and the final scene draws this theme to its conclusion by showing Prospero as a mere man, having divested himself of all of his powers. Throughout the play a parallel can be drawn between Prospero's magic arts and the magic of a director such as Shakespeare in enchanting the audience. At the end of the play the audience sees Prospero as a mere man, and as this was Shakespeare's last play, the audience is also encouraged to see him as a mere mortal too, stripped of his powers to transport the audience into different worlds.

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