The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms - Ross Murfin 2018


Epilogue: (1) The concluding section of a work. (2) A speech that comes at the end of a play, often requesting the appreciation of the audience and kind reviews from critics.

EXAMPLE: The epilogue to William Shakespeare’s The Tempest (c. 1611) is spoken by Prospero, who begins by saying:

Now my charms are all o’erthrown

And what strength I have’s all my own

and ends by subtly suggesting that the audience applaud:

As you from crimes would pardoned be,

Let your indulgence set me free.

More recent works containing epilogues include Paulo Coelho’s fable O alquimista (The Alchemist) (1988), Jane Smiley’s novel A Thousand Acres (1991), Charles Frazier’s novel Cold Mountain (1997), and Chris Bohjalian’s The Sandcastle Girls (2012). The epilogue to J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, which comes at the end of book seven, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007; adapted to film 2010—11) and is titled “Nineteen Years Later,” gives readers a run-down of what has become of various characters, even as it introduces new characters whose future is left to the imagination.