The Tempest

Context -tempest prabaly wirtten in –was 1st performed @ Court by the King’s Men in the fall of -was performed again in a winter of- during the festivities in celebration of the marriage of King Jame’s daughter Elizabeth-most likely the last play written by Shakespeare -it is remarkable for being one of the only 2 plays whose plot is entirely original (other is Lover’s Labor’s Lost)-But the play does relate to its time -draws on travel litrature of its time -most notably the accounts of a tempest off the the Bermudas that separeated and neraly wrecked a fleet of colonial ships sailing from Plymouth to Virginia-English colonial project seems to be on Shakespeare;s mind throughout The Tempest -almost every character( from the lord Gonzalo to the drunk Stephano) ponder how he would rule the island on which the ply is setif he were its king-Shakespeare seems to have drawn on Montaigne’s essay “Of the Cannibals,” which was translated into English in 1603 – name of Prospero’s servant-monster, Caliban, seems to be an anagram or derivative of “Cannibal.”-the flexibility of Shakespear’s stage is given particular prominence in The Tempest-Stages of the Elizabethan and Jacobean period were bare and simple-There was little on-stage scenery & the possibilities for artificial lighting were limited-The King’s Men in 1612 were performing both at the outdoor Globe Theatren& the indoor Blackfriars Theatre & their plays would have had to work in either venue-So much dramatic effect was left up to the minds of the audience- We see a good example of this in The Tempest, Act II, scene i when Gonzalo, Sebastian& Antonio argue whether the island is beautiful or barren-bareness of the stage would have allowed either option to be possible in the audience’s mind at any given moment-The Tempest also includes stage directions for a number of elaborate speccial effects-many pagents & songs occompanied by ornately sontumed figure or stage magic -for example the banquet in Act III, scene iii, or the wedding celebration for Ferdinand and Miranda in Act IV, scene i -give the play the feeling of a masque (a highly stylized form of dramatic) musical entertainment popular among the aristocracy of the sixteenth & seventeenth centuries-probably the tension between simple stage effects & very elaborate & surprising ones that gives the play its eerie & dreamlike quality-making it seems rich & complex even though it’s one of Shakespeare’s shortest & most simply constructed plays-tempting to think of The Tempest as Shakespears farewell to the stage because of its theme of a great magician giving up his art-we can interpret Prospero’s reference to the dissolution of “the great globe itself” (IV.i.153) as an allusion to Shakespeare’s theatre-Shakespeare is known to have collaborated on at least two other plays after The Tempest -The Two Noble Kinsmen and Henry VIII in 1613, both probably written with John Fletcher-performance of the latter was the occasion for the actual dissolution of the Globe-A cannon fired during the performance accidentally ignited the thatch & the theater burned to the ground
Plot Overview – storm strikes a ship carrying Alonso, Ferdinand, Sebastian, Antonio, Gonzalo, Stephano, & Trinculo -are on their way to Italy after coming from the wedding of Alonso’s daughter, Claribel, to the prince of Tunis in Africa-The royal party & the other mariners (with the exception of the unflappable Boatswain) begin to fear for their lives-Lightning cracks, & the mariners cry that the ship has been hit-Everyone prepares to sink-next scene begins much more quietly-Miranda & Prospero stand on the shore of their island – looking out to sea at the recent shipwreck-Miranda asks her father to do anything he can to help the poor souls in the ship-Prospero assures her everything is fine & then informs her that it is time she learned more about herself & her past-He reveals to her that he orchestrated the shipwreck & tells her the lengthy story of her past( a story he has often started to tell her before but never finished)-story goes that Prospero was the Duke of Milan until his brother Antonio, conspiring with Alonso (the King of Naples) usurped his position-Kidnapped & left to die on a raft at sea, Prospero & his daughter survive because Gonzalo leaves them supplies & Prospero’s books (the source of his magic & power)-Prospero & his daughter arrived on the island where they remain now & have been for twelve years-Only now (Prospero says) has Fortune at last sent his enemies his way -& he has raised the tempest in order to make things right with them once & for all-After telling this story, Prospero charms Miranda to sleep and then calls forth his familiar spirit Ariel, his chief magical agent-Prospero & Ariel’s discussion reveals that Ariel brought the tempest upon the ship & set fire to the mast-He then made sure that everyone got safely to the island, though they are now separated from each other into small groups-Ariel (a captive servant to Prospero) reminds his master that he has promised Ariel freedom a year early if he performs task like these without complaint-Prospero chastises Ariel for protesting & reminds him of the horrible fatethe he rescued him from-Before Prospero came to the island (witch named Sycorax imprisoned Ariel in a tree)-Sycorax died, leaving Ariel trapped until Prospero arrived and freed him-After Ariel assures Prospero that he knows his place, Prospero orders Ariel to take the shape of a sea nymph & make himself invisible to all but Prospero-Miranda awakes from her sleep & she & Prospero go to visit Caliban (Prospero’s servant & son of dead Sycorax)-Caliban curses Prospero-Prospero & Miranda berate him for being ungrateful for what they have given & taught him-Prospero sends Caliban to fetch firewood-Ariel (invisible) enters playing music & leading in the awed Ferdinand-Miranda & Ferdinand are immediately smitten with each other- He is the only man Miranda has ever seen (besides Caliban & her father)-Prospero is happy to see plan for his daughter’s future marriage working -but decides he must upset things temporarily – in order to prevent their relationship from developing too quickly -He accuses Ferdinand of merely pretending to be the Prince of Naples and threatens him with imprisonment-When Ferdinand draws his sword, Prospero charms him and leads him off to prison, ignoring Miranda’s cries for mercy-He then sends Ariel on another mysterious mission.-On another part of the island( Alonso/ Sebastian/Antonio/ Gonzalo & other miscellaneous lords) give thanks for their safety BUT worry about the fate of Ferdinand-Alonso says he wishes he never had married his daughter to the prince of Tunis -because if he had not made this journey(son would still be alive)-Gonzalo tries to maintain high spirits by discussing beauty of the island – but his remarks are undercut by the sarcastic sourness of Antonio & Sebastian-Ariel (invisible) plays music that puts all but Sebastian & Antonio to sleep-2 begin to discuss possible advantages of killing their sleeping companions- Antonio persuades Sebastian that latter will become ruler of Naples if they kill Alonso-Claribel (who would be the next heir if Ferdinand were indeed dead) is too far away to be able to claim her right-Sebastian convinced-& 2 are about to stab the sleeping men when Ariel causes Gonzalo to wake with a shout- Everyone wakes up & Antonio & Sebastian concoct a ridiculous story about having drawn their swords to protect the king from lions- Ariel goes back to Prospero while Alonso & his party continue to search for Ferdinand-Meanwhile Caliban is hauling wood for Prospero when he sees Trinculo -& thinks he is a spirit sent by Prospero to torment him- He lies down & hides under his cloak- storm is brewing (& Trinculo) curious about but undeterred by Caliban’s strange appearance & smell (crawls under the cloak with him)-Stephano (drunk& singing) comes along & stumbles upon the bizarre scene of Caliban & Trinculo huddled under the cloak-Caliban (hearing the singing) cries out that he’ll work faster as long as the “spirits” leave him alone-Stephano decides that this monster requires liquor & attempts to get Caliban to drink-Trinculo recognizes his friend Stephano & calls out to him-Soon the 3 are sitting up together & drinking-Caliban quickly becomes an enthusiastic drinker & begins to sing-Prospero puts Ferdinand to work hauling wood-Ferdinand finds his labor pleasant because it is for Miranda’s sake-Miranda (thinking her father is asleep) tells Ferdinand to take a break2 flirt with each other-Miranda proposes marriage& Ferdinand accepts-Prospero has been on stage most of the time (unseen) -&he is pleased with this development-Stephano/Trinculo/ &Caliban are now drunk & raucous & are made all the more so by Ariel – who comes to them invisibly &provokes them to fight with each other by impersonating their voices & taunting them-Caliban grows more & more fervent in his boasts that he knows how to kill Prospero-He even tells Stephano he can bring him to where Prospero is sleeping-He proposes they kill Prospero & take his daughter & set Stephano up as king of the island-Stephano thinks this a good plan & the 3 prepare to set off to find Prospero-They are distracted -but by the sound of music that Ariel plays on his flute & tabor-drum & they decide to follow this music before executing their plot-Stephano, Trinculo, and Caliban are now drunk and raucous and are made all the more so by Ariel, who comes to them invisibly and provokes them to fight with one another by impersonating their voices and taunting them. Caliban grows more and more fervent in his boasts that he knows how to kill Prospero. He even tells Stephano that he can bring him to where Prospero is sleeping. He proposes that they kill Prospero, take his daughter, and set Stephano up as king of the island. Stephano thinks this a good plan, and the three prepare to set off to find Prospero. They are distracted, however, by the sound of music that Ariel plays on his flute and tabor-drum, and they decide to follow this music before executing their plot-Alonso, Gonzalo, Sebastian, and Antonio grow weary from traveling and pause to rest. Antonio and Sebastian secretly plot to take advantage of Alonso and Gonzalo’s exhaustion, deciding to kill them in the evening. Prospero, probably on the balcony of the stage and invisible to the men, causes a banquet to be set out by strangely shaped spirits. As the men prepare to eat, Ariel appears like a harpy and causes the banquet to vanish. He then accuses the men of supplanting Prospero and says that it was for this sin that Alonso’s son, Ferdinand, has been taken. He vanishes, leaving Alonso feeling vexed and guilty-Prospero now softens toward Ferdinand and welcomes him into his family as the soon-to-be-husband of Miranda. He sternly reminds Ferdinand, however, that Miranda’s “virgin-knot” (IV.i.15) is not to be broken until the wedding has been officially solemnized. Prospero then asks Ariel to call forth some spirits to perform a masque for Ferdinand and Miranda. The spirits assume the shapes of Ceres, Juno, and Iris and perform a short masque celebrating the rites of marriage and the bounty of the earth. A dance of reapers and nymphs follows but is interrupted when Prospero suddenly remembers that he still must stop the plot against his life-He sends the spirits away and asks Ariel about Trinculo, Stephano, and Caliban. Ariel tells his master of the three men’s drunken plans. He also tells how he led the men with his music through prickly grass and briars and finally into a filthy pond near Prospero’s cell. Ariel and Prospero then set a trap by hanging beautiful clothing in Prospero’s cell. Stephano, Trinculo, and Caliban enter looking for Prospero and, finding the beautiful clothing, decide to steal it. They are immediately set upon by a pack of spirits in the shape of dogs and hounds, driven on by Prospero and Ariel-Prospero uses Ariel to bring Alonso and the others before him. He then sends Ariel to bring the Boatswain and the mariners from where they sleep on the wrecked ship. Prospero confronts Alonso, Antonio, and Sebastian with their treachery, but tells them that he forgives them. Alonso tells him of having lost Ferdinand in the tempest and Prospero says that he recently lost his own daughter. Clarifying his meaning, he draws aside a curtain to reveal Ferdinand and Miranda playing chess. Alonso and his companions are amazed by the miracle of Ferdinand’s survival, and Miranda is stunned by the sight of people unlike any she has seen before. Ferdinand tells his father about his marriage-Ariel returns with the Boatswain and mariners. The Boatswain tells a story of having been awakened from a sleep that had apparently lasted since the tempest. At Prospero’s bidding, Ariel releases Caliban, Trinculo and Stephano, who then enter wearing their stolen clothing. Prospero and Alonso command them to return it and to clean up Prospero’s cell. Prospero invites Alonso and the others to stay for the night so that he can tell them the tale of his life in the past twelve years. After this, the group plans to return to Italy. Prospero, restored to his dukedom, will retire to Milan. Prospero gives Ariel one final task—to make sure the seas are calm for the return voyage—before setting him free. Finally, Prospero delivers an epilogue to the audience, asking them to forgive him for his wrongdoing and set him free by applauding
Themes, Motifs & Symbols Themes:(The Illusion of Justice) -involves a straightforward story of an unjust act -usurpation of Prospero’s throne by his brother -Prospero’s quest to reestablish justice by restoring himself to power -but idea of justice that play works towards seems subjective -because this idea represents the view point of 1 character who controls the fate of all the other characters -Prospero presents himself as a victim of injustice working to right the wrongs that have been done to him -Prospero’s idea of justice and injustice is somewhat hypocritical -though he is furious with his brother for taking his power -he has no qualms about enslaving Ariel and Caliban in order to achieve his ends -throughout the play, Prospero’s sense of justice seems extremely one-sided & mainly involves what is good for Prospero -because the play offers no notion of higher order or justice to supersede Prospero’s interpretation of events, the play is morally ambiguous -as play goes on it becomes more involved w/ idea of creativity & art – Prospero’s role begins to mirror more explicitly the role of an author creating a story around him -With this metaphor in mind & if we accept Prospero as a surrogate for Shakespeare himself, Prospero’s sense of justice begins to seem, if not perfect, at least sympathetic -the means he uses to achieve his idea of justice mirror the machinations of the artist, who also seeks to enable others to see his view of the world – Playwrights arrange their stories in such a way that their own idea of justice is imposed upon events – In The Tempest, the author is in the play, and the fact that he establishes his idea of justice and creates a happy ending for all the characters becomes a cause for celebration, not criticism -By using magic and tricks that echo the special effects and spectacles of the theater, Prospero gradually persuades the other characters and the audience of the rightness of his case -As he does so, the ambiguities surrounding his methods slowly resolve themselves -Prospero forgives his enemies, releases his slaves, and relinquishes his magic power, so that, at the end of the play, he is only an old man whose work has been responsible for all the audience’s pleasure – The establishment of Prospero’s idea of justice becomes less a commentary on justice in life than on the nature of morality in art -Happy endings are possible, Shakespeare seems to say, because the creativity of artists can create them, even if the moral values that establish the happy ending originate from nowhere but the imagination of the artist(The Difficulty of Distinguishing “Men” from “Monsters”) -Upon seeing Ferdinand for the first time, Miranda says that he is “the third man that e’er I saw” (I.ii.449) -other two are, presumably, Prospero and Caliban – In their first conversation with Caliban, however, Miranda and Prospero say very little that shows they consider him to be human -Miranda reminds Caliban that before she taught him language, he gabbled “like / A thing most brutish” (I.ii.359-360) and Prospero says that he gave Caliban “human care” (I.ii.349), implying that this was something Caliban ultimately did not deserve -Caliban’s exact nature continues to be slightly ambiguous later -In Act IV, scene i, reminded of Caliban’s plot, Prospero refers to him as a “devil, a born devil, on whose nature / Nurture can never stick” (IV.i.188-189) -Miranda and Prospero both have contradictory views of Caliban’s humanity -On the one hand, they think that their education of him has lifted him from his formerly brutish status -On the other hand, they seem to see him as inherently brutish -His devilish nature can never be overcome by nurture, according to Prospero -Miranda expresses a similar sentiment in Act I, scene ii: “thy vile race, / Though thou didst learn, had that in’t which good natures / Could not abide to be with” (I.ii.361-363) -The inhuman part of Caliban drives out the human part, the “good nature,” that is imposed on him -Caliban claims that he was kind to Prospero, and that Prospero repaid that kindness by imprisoning him (see I.ii.347) – In contrast, Prospero claims that he stopped being kind to Caliban once Caliban had tried to rape Miranda (I.ii.347-351) -Which character the audience decides to believe depends on whether it views Caliban as inherently brutish, or as made brutish by oppression -The play leaves the matter ambiguous – Caliban balances all of his eloquent speeches, such as his curses in Act I, scene ii and his speech about the isle’s “noises” in Act III, scene ii, with the most degrading kind of drunken, servile behavior – But Trinculo’s speech upon first seeing Caliban (II.ii.18-38), the longest speech in the play, reproaches too harsh a view of Caliban and blurs the distinction between men and monsters -In England, which he visited once, Trinculo says, Caliban could be shown off for money: “There would this monster make a man -Any strange beast there makes a man -When they will not give a doit to relieve a lame beggar, they will lay out ten to see a dead Indian” (II.ii.28-31) -What seems most monstrous in these sentences is not the “dead Indian,” or “any strange beast,” but the cruel voyeurism of those who capture and gape at them(The Allure of Ruling a Colony) -The nearly uninhabited island presents the sense of infinite possibility to almost everyone who lands there -Prospero has found it, in its isolation, an ideal place to school his daughter -Sycorax, Caliban’s mother, worked her magic there after she was exiled from Algeria -Caliban, once alone on the island, now Prospero’s slave, laments that he had been his own king (I.ii.344-345) -As he attempts to comfort Alonso, Gonzalo imagines a utopian society on the island, over which he would rule (II.i.148-156) -Act III, scene ii, Caliban suggests that Stephano kill Prospero, and Stephano immediately envisions his own reign: “Monster, I will kill this man. His daughter and I will be King and Queen—save our graces!—and Trinculo and thyself shall be my viceroys” (III.ii.101-103) -Stephano particularly looks forward to taking advantage of the spirits that make “noises” on the isle; they will provide music for his kingdom for free -All these characters envision the island as a space of freedom and unrealized potential -tone of the play, however, toward the hopes of the would-be colonizers is vexed at best -Gonzalo’s utopian vision in Act II, scene i is undercut by a sharp retort from the usually foolish Sebastian and Antonio – When Gonzalo says that there would be no commerce or work or “sovereignty” in his society, Sebastian replies, “yet he would be king on’t,” and Antonio adds, “The latter end of his commonwealth forgets the beginning” (II.i.156-157) -Gonzalo’s fantasy thus involves him ruling the island while seeming not to rule it, and in this he becomes a kind of parody of Prospero -While there are many representatives of the colonial impulse in the play, the colonized have only one representative: Caliban -We might develop sympathy for him at first, when Prospero seeks him out merely to abuse him, and when we see him tormented by spirits – However, this sympathy is made more difficult by his willingness to abase himself before Stephano in Act II, scene ii – Even as Caliban plots to kill one colonial master (Prospero) in Act III, scene ii, he sets up another (Stephano) – The urge to rule and the urge to be ruled seem inextricably intertwinedMotifs:(Masters and Servants) -Nearly every scene in the play either explicitly or implicitly portrays a relationship between a figure that possesses power and a figure that is subject to that power – play explores the master-servant dynamic most harshly in cases in which the harmony of the relationship is threatened or disrupted, as by the rebellion of a servant or the ineptitude of a master -For instance, in the opening scene, the “servant” (the Boatswain) is dismissive and angry toward his “masters” (the noblemen), whose ineptitude threatens to lead to a shipwreck in the storm -From then on, master-servant relationships like these dominate the play: Prospero and Caliban; Prospero and Ariel; Alonso and his nobles; the nobles and Gonzalo; Stephano, Trinculo, and Caliban; and so forth – play explores the psychological and social dynamics of power relationships from a number of contrasting angles, such as the generally positive relationship between Prospero and Ariel, the generally negative relationship between Prospero and Caliban, and the treachery in Alonso’s relationship to his nobles(Water & Drowning) -play has many references to water -The Mariners enter “wet” in Act I, scene i, and Caliban, Stephano, and Trinculo enter “all wet,” after being led by Ariel into a swampy lake (IV.i.193) -Miranda’s fear for the lives of the sailors in the “wild waters” (I.ii.2) causes her to weep -Alonso, believing his son dead because of his own actions against Prospero, decides in Act III, scene iii to drown himself -His language is echoed by Prospero in Act V, scene i when the magician promises that, once he has reconciled with his enemies, “deeper than did ever plummet sound / I’ll drown my book” (V.i.56-57) -These are only a few of the references to water in the play – Occasionally, the references to water are used to compare characters – For example, the echo of Alonso’s desire to drown himself in Prospero’s promise to drown his book calls attention to the similarity of the sacrifices each man must make -Alonso must be willing to give up his life in order to become truly penitent and to be forgiven for his treachery against Prospero. Similarly, in order to rejoin the world he has been driven from, Prospero must be willing to give up his magic and his power -Perhaps the most important overall effect of this water motif is to heighten the symbolic importance of the tempest itself – It is as though the water from that storm runs through the language and action of the entire play—just as the tempest itself literally and crucially affects the lives and actions of all the characters(Mysterious Noises) -The isle is indeed, as Caliban says, “full of noises” (III.ii.130) -The play begins with a “tempestuous noise of thunder and lightning” (I.i.1, stage direction), and the splitting of the ship is signaled in part by “a confused noise within” (I.i.54, stage direction) -Much of the noise of the play is musical, and much of the music is Ariel’s. Ferdinand is led to Miranda by Ariel’s music -Ariel’s music also wakes Gonzalo just as Antonio and Sebastian are about to kill Alonso in Act II, scene i -Moreover, the magical banquet of Act III, scene iii is laid out to the tune of “Solemn and strange music” (III.iii.18, stage direction), and Juno and Ceres sing in the wedding masque (IV.i.106-117) -noises, sounds, and music of the play are made most significant by Caliban’s speech about the noises of the island at III.ii.130-138 -Shakespeare shows Caliban in the thrall of magic, which the theater audience also experiences as the illusion of thunder, rain, invisibility -The action of The Tempest is very simple -What gives the play most of its hypnotic, magical atmosphere is the series of dreamlike events it stages, such as the tempest, the magical banquet, and the wedding masque – Accompanied by music, these present a feast for the eye and the ear and convince us of the magical glory of Prospero’s enchanted isleSymbols:(The Tempest) -The tempest that begins the play, and which puts all of Prospero’s enemies at his disposal, symbolizes the suffering Prospero endured, and which he wants to inflict on others – All of those shipwrecked are put at the mercy of the sea, just as Prospero and his infant daughter were twelve years ago, when some loyal friends helped them out to sea in a ragged little boat (see I.ii.144-151) -Prospero must make his enemies suffer as he has suffered so that they will learn from their suffering, as he has from his -The tempest is also a symbol of Prospero’s magic, and of the frightening, potentially malevolent side of his power(The Game of Chess) -object of chess is to capture the king -That, at the simplest level, is the symbolic significance of Prospero revealing Ferdinand and Miranda playing chess in the final scene – Prospero has caught the king—Alonso—and reprimanded him for his treachery – In doing so, Prospero has married Alonso’s son to his own daughter without the king’s knowledge, a deft political maneuver that assures Alonso’s support because Alonso will have no interest in upsetting a dukedom to which his own son is heir -This is the final move in Prospero’s plot, which began with the tempest -He has maneuvered the different passengers of Alonso’s ship around the island with the skill of a great chess player -Caught up in their game, Miranda and Ferdinand also symbolize something ominous about Prospero’s power -They do not even notice the others staring at them for a few lines -“Sweet lord, you play me false,” Miranda says, and Ferdinand assures her that he “would not for the world” do so (V.i.174-176) -The theatrical tableau is almost too perfect: Ferdinand and Miranda, suddenly and unexpectedly revealed behind a curtain, playing chess and talking gently of love and faith, seem entirely removed from the world around them -Though he has promised to relinquish his magic, Prospero still seems to see his daughter as a mere pawn in his game(Prospero’s Book) -Like the tempest, Prospero’s books are a symbol of his power -“Remember / First to possess his books,” Caliban says to Stephano and Trinculo, “for without them / He’s but a sot” (III.ii.86-88) – The books are also, however, a symbol of Prospero’s dangerous desire to withdraw entirely from the world – It was his devotion to study that put him at the mercy of his ambitious brother, and it is this same devotion to study that has made him content to raise Miranda in isolation -Yet, Miranda’s isolation has made her ignorant of where she came from (see I.ii.33-36), and Prospero’s own isolation provides him with little company – In order to return to the world where his knowledge means something more than power, Prospero must let go of his magic
Characters
Prospero -play’s protagonist-father of Miranda-12 yrs before events of play he was Duke of Milan-his brother (Antonio) along with Alonso (King of Naples) worked to usurp him -forcing him to flee in boat w/ daughter-honest lord Gonzalo aided Prospero in his escape-Prospero has spent his 12 yrs on the island refining the magic that gives him the power he needs to punish & forgive his enemies
Miranda -daughter of Propero-was brought to island at young age -has never seen any other man other than father & Caliban -but she dimly remembers being cared for by female servants as a baby-she has been sealed off from the real world for so long -her perceptions of other ppl tend to be naive & non-judgmental-compassionate/ generous/ loyal to her father
Ariel -Prospero’s spirit helper-referred to throughout this Sparknote & in most criticism as “he” BUT his gender & physical form are ambiguous-resuced by prospero from lon gimprisonment @ hands of witch Sycorax-is Prospero’s servant until Prospero decides to release him-mischievous & ubiquitous-able to traverse the length of the island in an instant & change shape at will-carries out virtually every task that Prospero needs accomplished in the play-
Caliban -another of Prosper’s servants-son of now dead Sycorax-acquainted Prospero w/ the island when he arrived-beleives that the isalnd rightfully belongs to him & has been stolen by Prospero-his speech & behavior is sometimes coarse & brutal – as in his drunken scenes with Stephano and Trinculo (II.ii, IV.i) – and sometimes eloquent and sensitive, as in his rebukes of Prospero in Act I, scene ii -and in his description of the eerie beauty of the island in Act III, scene ii (III.ii.130-138)
Ferdinand -Son & heir of Alonso-Ferdinand seems so be pure & naive as Miranda-falls in love w/ her upon 1st sight & happily submits to servitude in order to win her father’s approval
Alonso -King of Napales-father of Ferdinard-Alonso aided Antonio in unseating Prospero as Duke of Milan 12 yrs before-as he appears in the play he is aware of the consequences for his actions-blames his decision to marry his daughter to Prince of Tunis on the apparent death of his son-after the magical banquet he regrets his role in the usurping of Prospero
Antonio -Prospero’s brother-quickly demonstrates that he is power-hungry & foolish-in Act 2, scene 1, he persuades Sebastian to kill the sleeping Alonso-he then goes along w/ Sebastian’s absurd story about fending off lions when Gonzalo wakes up & catches Antonio & Sebastian with their swords drawn
Sebastian -Alonso’s brother-like Antonio he is aggressive & cowardly-easily persuaded to kill his brother in Act 2 scene 1-he initiates the ridiculous story about lions when Gonzalo catches him with his sword drawn
Gonzalo -old-honest-Lord-helped Prospero’s & Miranda to escape after Antonio userped Prospero’s title-Gonzalo’ speeches provide an important commentary on the events of the play -he remarks on the beuaty of the island when the stranded part 1st lands -then on the desperation of Alonso after the magic banquet -& on the miracle of the reconciliation in Act 5, scene 1
Trinculo & Stephano -Trinculo (jester) – Stephano (drunken butler)-2 minor members of the shipwrecked party-provide comic foil to other more powerful pairs of characters (Prospero & Alonso, Antonio & Sebestian)-their drunken boesting & petty greed reflect & deflate the quarrels & power struggles of Prospero & the other noblemen
Boatswain –appearing only in 1st & last scenes-vigorously good natured-seems competent & almost cheerful in the shipwreck scene -demanding practical help instead of crying and praying (which is useless, god won’t save you)
Act 5, scene 1
Act II, scene i
Important Quotations
You taught me language, and my profit on’tIs I know how to curse. The red plague rid youFor learning me your language! (I.ii.366-368) This speech, delivered by Caliban to Prospero and Miranda, makes clear in a very concise form the vexed relationship between the colonized and the colonizer that lies at the heart of this play. The son of a witch, perhaps half-man and half-monster, his name a near-anagram of “cannibal,” Caliban is an archetypal “savage” figure in a play that is much concerned with colonization and the controlling of wild environments. Caliban and Prospero have different narratives to explain their current relationship. Caliban sees Prospero as purely oppressive while Prospero claims that he has cared for and educated Caliban, or did until Caliban tried to rape Miranda. Prospero’s narrative is one in which Caliban remains ungrateful for the help and civilization he has received from the Milanese Duke. Language, for Prospero and Miranda, is a means to knowing oneself, and Caliban has in their view shown nothing but scorn for this precious gift. Self-knowledge for Caliban, however, is not empowering. It is only a constant reminder of how he is different from Miranda and Prospero and how they have changed him from what he was. Caliban’s only hope for an identity separate from those who have invaded his home is to use what they have given him against them.
There be some sports are painful, and their labourDelight in them sets off. Some kinds of basenessAre nobly undergone, and most poor mattersPoint to rich ends. This my mean taskWould be as heavy to me as odious, butThe mistress which I serve quickens what’s deadAnd makes my labours pleasures. (III.i.1-7) Ferdinand speaks these words to Miranda, as he expresses his willingness to perform the task Prospero has set him to, for her sake. The Tempest is very much about compromise and balance. Prospero must spend twelve years on an island in order to regain his dukedom; Alonso must seem to lose his son in order to be forgiven for his treachery; Ariel must serve Prospero in order to be set free; and Ferdinand must suffer Prospero’s feigned wrath in order to reap true joy from his love for Miranda. This latter compromise is the subject of this passage from Act III, scene i, and we see the desire for balance expressed in the structure of Ferdinand’s speech. This desire is built upon a series of antitheses—related but opposing ideas: “sports . . . painful” is followed by “labour . . . delights”; “baseness” can be undergone “nobly”; “poor matters” lead to “rich ends”; Miranda “quickens” (makes alive) what is “dead” in Ferdinand. Perhaps more than any other character in the play, Ferdinand is resigned to allow fate to take its course, always believing that the good will balance the bad in the end. His waiting for Miranda mirrors Prospero’s waiting for reconciliation with his enemies, and it is probably Ferdinand’s balanced outlook that makes him such a sympathetic character, even though we actually see or hear very little of him on-stage.
[I weep] at mine unworthiness, that dare not offerWhat I desire to give, and much less takeWhat I shall die to want. But this is trifling,And all the more it seeks to hide itselfThe bigger bulk it shows. Hence, bashful cunning,And prompt me, plain and holy innocence.I am your wife, if you will marry me.If not, I’ll die your maid. To be your fellowYou may deny me, but I’ll be your servantWhether you will or no (III.i.77-86) Miranda delivers this speech to Ferdinand in Act III, scene i, declaring her undying love for him. Remarkably, she does not merely propose marriage, she practically insists upon it. This is one of two times in the play that Miranda seems to break out of the predictable character she has developed under the influence of her father’s magic. The first time is in Act I, scene ii, when she scolds Caliban for his ingratitude to her after all the time she has spent teaching him to speak. In the speech quoted above, as in Act I, scene ii, Miranda seems to come to a point at which she can no longer hold inside what she thinks. It is not that her desires get the better of her; rather, she realizes the necessity of expressing her desires. The naïve girl who can barely hold still long enough to hear her father’s long story in Act I, scene ii, and who is charmed asleep and awake as though she were a puppet, is replaced by a stronger, more mature individual at this moment. This speech, in which Miranda declares her sexual independence, using a metaphor that suggests both an erection and pregnancy (the “bigger bulk” trying to hide itself), seems to transform Miranda all at once from a girl into a woman.At the same time, the last three lines somewhat undercut the power of this speech: Miranda seems, to a certain extent, a slave to her desires. Her pledge to follow Ferdinand, no matter what the cost to herself or what he desires, is echoed in the most degrading way possible by Caliban as he abases himself before the liquor-bearing Stephano. Ultimately, we know that Ferdinand and Miranda are right for one another from the fact that Ferdinand does not abuse the enormous trust Miranda puts in him.
Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises,Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.Sometimes a thousand twangling instrumentsWill hum about mine ears, and sometime voicesThat, if I then had waked after long sleepWill make me sleep again; and then in dreamingThe clouds methought would open and show richesReady to drop upon me, that when I wakedI cried to dream again (III.ii.130-138). This speech is Caliban’s explanation to Stephano and Trinculo of mysterious music that they hear by magic. Though he claims that the chief virtue of his newly learned language is that it allows him to curse, Caliban here shows himself capable of using speech in a most sensitive and beautiful fashion. This speech is generally considered to be one of the most poetic in the play, and it is remarkable that Shakespeare chose to put it in the mouth of the drunken man-monster. Just when Caliban seems to have debased himself completely and to have become a purely ridiculous figure, Shakespeare gives him this speech and reminds the audience that Caliban has something within himself that Prospero, Stephano, Trinculo, and the audience itself generally cannot, or refuse to, see. It is unclear whether the “noises” Caliban discusses are the noises of the island itself or noises, like the music of the invisible Ariel, that are a result of Prospero’s magic. Caliban himself does not seem to know where these noises come from. Thus his speech conveys the wondrous beauty of the island and the depth of his attachment to it, as well as a certain amount of respect and love for Prospero’s magic, and for the possibility that he creates the “[s]ounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not.”
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,As I foretold you, were all spirits, andAre melted into air, into thin air;And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,The cloud-capped 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 stuffAs dreams are made on, and our little lifeIs rounded with a sleep. (IV.i.148-158) Prospero speaks these lines just after he remembers the plot against his life and sends the wedding masque away in order to deal with that plot. The sadness in the tone of the speech seems to be related to Prospero’s surprising forgetfulness at this crucial moment in the play: he is so swept up in his own visions, in the power of his own magic, that for a moment he forgets the business of real life. From this point on, Prospero talks repeatedly of the “end” of his “labours” (IV.i.260), and of breaking his staff and drowning his magic book (V.i.54-57). One of Prospero’s goals in bringing his former enemies to the island seems to be to extricate himself from a position of near absolute power, where the concerns of real life have not affected him. He looks forward to returning to Milan, where “every third thought shall be my grave” (V.i.315). In addition, it is with a sense of relief that he announces in the epilogue that he has given up his magic powers. Prospero’s speech in Act IV, scene i emphasizes both the beauty of the world he has created for himself and the sadness of the fact that this world is in many ways meaningless because it is a kind of dream completely removed from anything substantial.His mention of the “great globe,” which to an audience in 1611 would certainly suggest the Globe Theatre, calls attention to Prospero’s theatricality—to the way in which he controls events like a director or a playwright. The word “rack,” which literally means “a wisp of smoke” is probably a pun on the “wrack,” or shipwreck, with which the play began. These puns conflate the theatre and Prospero’s island. When Prospero gives up his magic, the play will end, and the audience, like Prospero, will return to real life. No trace of the magical island will be left behind, not even of the shipwreck, for even the shipwreck was only an illusion.
Whom does Caliban mistake for one of Prospero’s spirits sent to torment him? Trinculo
What was Prospero’s title before his position was usurped and he was forced to flee Italy? Duke of Milan
From which country is Alonso’s ship returning when it is caught in the tempest? Tunis
How long have Prospero and Miranda been on their island? Twelve years
What was the name of Caliban’s mother? Sycorax
Over how many days does the action of The Tempest take place? One
Which mythical figures appear in the wedding masque Prospero stages for Miranda and Ferdinand? Ceres, Iris, and Juno
Which character is Prospero’s brother? Antonio
Which character is Sebastian’s brother? Alonso
What do we see Miranda and Ferdinand doing in the play’s final scene? Playing chess
What shape does Ariel assume at the magical banquet in Act III, scene iii? Harpy
What do Prospero and Ariel set out as bait for Caliban, Trinculo, and Stephano? “glistening apparel”
What does Caliban say must be done before Prospero can be killed? His books must be seized
What is the name of Alonso’s daughter? Claribel
What does Prospero give as his reason for treating Caliban badly? Caliban attempted to rape Miranda
Who helped Prospero and Miranda to flee Italy? Gonzalo
Where does Ariel put the mariners and Boatswain after the tempest? Asleep in the ship in the harbor
Where did Sycorax imprison Ariel? In a cloven pine
What task are both Caliban and Ferdinand forced to perform? Carrying wood
Who persuades Sebastian to try to kill Alonso? Antonio
What does Prospero intend to “drown” after he has reconciled with his enemies? His book
What does Caliban say is his “chief profit” from learning language? He knows how to curse
Which characters do Stephano and Trinculo most clearly parody? Antonio and Sebastian
What is the final task Prospero orders Ariel to perform? To give the fleet calm seas on its return to Italy
We are told that one of the following characters has visited England. Which one? Trinculo

You Might Also Like