Journal Article

‘Like this Insubstantial Pageant, Faded’: Eschatology and Theatricality in <i>The Tempest</i>

Judith E. Tonning

in Literature and Theology

Volume 18, issue 4, pages 371-382
Published in print December 2004 | ISSN: 0269-1205
Published online December 2004 | e-ISSN: 1477-4623 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/litthe/18.4.371
‘Like this Insubstantial Pageant, Faded’: Eschatology and Theatricality in The Tempest

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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.

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Subjects: Literature ; Religion and Art, Literature, and Music

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