The Tempest

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Prospero's Cloak and Books Symbol Analysis

Prospero's Cloak and Books Symbol Icon
Prospero's cloak and books are the source of his power. He deliberately takes off his cloak at two points in the play: once when he tells Miranda of their history, and again at the end of the play when he gives up his magic. Gonzalo knows how much Prospero loves his books, and he arranges for them to be placed on the ship that removes Prospero and Miranda from Milan. Without the books, Prospero would not have had the power to summon the tempest and restore order to Milan and Naples. Caliban advises Stephano to seize Prospero's books when they make plans to murder Prospero and take control of the island. When Prospero relinquishes his magic at the end of the play, he says, "I'll drown my book" (5.1.57). If, as many critics suggest, Prospero is the voice of Shakespeare as he retires from the theater, the books might also represent the power of words and ideas.
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Prospero's Cloak and Books Symbol Timeline in The Tempest

The timeline below shows where the symbol Prospero's Cloak and Books appears in The Tempest. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, scene 2
Loss and Restoration Theme Icon
Power Theme Icon
Magic, Illusion, and Prospero as Playwright Theme Icon
...and says that it's time to tell Miranda about her past. He takes off his cloak, saying, "Lie there my art" (1.2.24-25). Prospero then reveals to Miranda that he was once... (full context)
Loss and Restoration Theme Icon
Magic, Illusion, and Prospero as Playwright Theme Icon
...them with necessities like fresh water, clothing, blankets, and food, as well as Prospero's beloved books. (full context)
Act 3, scene 2
Power Theme Icon
Magic, Illusion, and Prospero as Playwright Theme Icon
...with they knife" (3.2.80-83). But it is vital, he says, for Stephano to seize Prospero's books, which are the source of his power. He entices Stephano by promising Miranda as a... (full context)
Act 5, scene 1
Magic, Illusion, and Prospero as Playwright Theme Icon
...this last act he will give up his powers, breaking his staff and drowning his book of magic. (full context)