“Like This Insubstantial Pageant Faded”: Eschatology and Theatricality in The Tempest

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Abstract

This article sets the theatrical self-reflexivity of The Tempest in relation to
its concern with eschatology, arguing that in Prospero’s staged apocalypse
(culminating in an aborted masque), the play imitates the literalist,
royal interpretations of the Book of Revelation underlying the
Jacobean court masque in order to expose the insufficiency of such
interpretations. In their stead, the ending of the play introduces a self-conscious
form of drama which, like the sacramental liturgy, seeks not
to arrest and hypostatise presence, but to stir desire for eschatological
encounter in and through an acceptance of the temporality and limitation
of the ordinary.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-382
JournalTheology and Literature
Volume18
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2004

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