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Bradley, A. C. Shakespearean Tragedy: Lectures on Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth.
2nd ed. London: Macmillan, 1905.
PAGE 329

in which goddesses appear, and which is so majestic and harmonious that to the young man, standing beside such a father and such a wife, the place seems Paradise, -- as perhaps the world once seemed to Shakespeare. Then, at the bidding of Iris, there begins a dance of Nymphs with Reapers, sunburnt, weary of their August labour, but now in their holiday garb. But, as this is nearing its end, Prospero 'starts suddenly, and speaks'; and the visions vanish. And what he 'speaks' is shown in these lines, which introduce the famous passage just quoted:

   Pros.  [Aside] I had forgot that foul conspiracy
Of the beast Caliban and his confederates
Against my life: the minute of their plot
Is almost come. [To the Spirits.] Well done! avoid; no more.
   Fer.  This is strange; your father's in some passion
That works him strongly.
   Mir.                          Never till this day
Saw I him touch'd with anger so distemper'd.
   Pros.  You do look, my son, in a moved sort,
As if you were dismay'd: be cheerful, sir. Our revels . . .

And then, after the famous lines, follow these:

                               Sir, I am vex'd:
Bear with my weakness; my old brain is troubled;
Be not disturb'd with my infirmity;
If you be pleased, retire into my cell
And there repose: a turn or two I'll walk,
To still my beating mind.

We seem to see here the whole mind of Shakespeare in his last years. That which provokes in Prospero first a 'passion' of anger, and, a moment later, that melancholy and mystical thought that the great world must perish utterly and that man is but a dream, is the sudden recollection of gross and apparently incurable evil in the 'monster' whom he had tried in vain to raise and soften, and in the monster's human confederates. It is this, which is but the repetition of his earlier experience

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