John Gielgud as Prospero
Act IV, Scene 1
Be cheerful, sir.
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air;
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
W. Raleigh commented in his book Shakespeare (1907) that "The Tempest was probably his last play - in the sense, at least, that he designed it for his farewell to the stage. The thought which occurs at once to almost every reader of the play, that Prospero resembles Shakespeare himself, can hardly have been absent from the mind of the author ... In all the works of Shakespeare there is nothing more like himself than those quiet words of parting - 'Be cheerful, sir; our revels now are ended."