I recently completed a university course on Shakespeare. My favourite lines are from the Tempest. Prospero, the magician, and Ariel, an airy spirit under Prospero’s control, are coming to the end of the play. Prospero has orchestrated a ship-wreck of the boat his brother-in -law, the King of Milan, was on in order to exact revenge.

    Prospero: Now does my project gather to a head.
    My charms crack not, my spirits obey, and Time
    Goes upright with his carriage. How’s the day?

    Ariel: On the sixth hour, at which time, my lord,You said our work shall cease.
    Prospero: I did say so,
    When first I raised the tempest. Say, my spirit,
    How fares the King and’s followers?

    Ariel: Confined together
    In the same fashion as you gave in charge,
    Just as you left them; all prisoners, sir,
    In the line grove which weather-fends your cell.
    They cannot budge till your release. The King,
    His brother, and yours abide all three distracted,
    And the remainder mourning over them,
    Brim full of sorrow and dismay; but chiefly
    Him that you termed, sir, the good old lord,
    His tears runs down his beard like winter’s drops,
    From eaves of reeds. Your charm so strongly works
    That is you now beheld them your affections
    Would become tender.

    Prospero: Dost though think so, spirit?

    Mine would, sir, were I human

    It is on this moment that the entire play pivots. We have discovered that, many years before, the King of Naples had sent Prospero and his infant daughter Miranda out to sea in a leaky boat to their certain death. Fortune intervened and they were washed up upon this isle.

    For a man like Prospero, who clearly has a case for revenge and chooses not to, we are shown another way to be in the world, and magic becomes obsolete. We collectively hold our breathe as Prospero replies:

    And mine shall.

    He lets go of his need for magic and revenge, prepares for his re-entry into the material world, and we are given a blue-print for living: one where forgiveness, reconciliation and wholeness are integrated.