How do I cite the epilogue of a Shakespeare play in my prose?
Note: This post relates to content in the eighth edition of the MLA Handbook. For up-to-date guidance, see the ninth edition of the MLA Handbook.
You should follow the edition you are using when you construct your citations. Some editions make the epilogue part of the last act of the play. Other editions make the epilogue its own section and give it separate line numbers. If the epilogue is presented as an extension of the last act, cite it as if you were citing the last act; if necessary, you can make it clear in your prose that you are quoting the epilogue. If the epilogue is presented as a separate section, your in-text citation should specify that you are quoting from the epilogue and should provide the line numbers of the quotation. The citations given below provide examples of both versions of epilogues.
Whereas Prospero has relied on magic to create his dramatic illusions throughout The Tempest, in the epilogue he casts the audience in the role of enchanter: “Let me not,” he says, “dwell / In this bare island by your spell” (5.1.323, 325–26).
At the end of Henry V, the chorus alludes to Henry VI, under whose reign the victories of his father will be undone and England will be thrown into civil war: “Whose state so many had the managing / That they lost France and made his England bleed” (Epilogue, lines 11–12).
Shakespeare, William. Henry V. Edited by Gary Taylor, Oxford UP, 1982. Oxford Scholarly Editions Online, doi:10.1093/actrade/9780198129127.book.1.
———. The Tempest. Edited by Stephen Orgel, Oxford UP, 1987. Oxford Scholarly Editions Online, doi:10.1093/actrade/9780198129172.book.1.