– Play opens aboard a ship in the midst of a tempestuous storm.
– The king of Naples and his entourage enter. They don’t seem to realise the full importance of the storm much to the annoyance of the Boatswain; “you mar our labour, keep your cabins, you do assist the storm.”
– The king and his entourage return to their cabins to pray as they realise their doom.
– The next scene introduces us to Miranda and her father Prospero
– Miranda confronts her father because she believes he conjured up the storm; “if by your art (my dearest father) you have the wild waters in this roar, allay them.”
– Prospero tells her no harm was done to anybody aboard the “brave vessel”
– Miranda learns how they came to be on the island. Prospero was the Duke of Milan but his brother usurped him and left Prospero and baby Miranda drift out to sea in a leaky boat.
– Miranda is clearly shocked by his story; “your tale, sir, would cure deafness.”
– Prospero sends Miranda into an enchanted sleep and calls Ariel.
– Ariel tells Prospero nobody was hurt in the ship wreck; “Not a hair perish’d: on their sustaining garments not a blemish.”
– Ariel asks Prospero, after twelve years of service if he will free her.
– Prospero angered, tells the story of how he freed Ariel from Sycorax’s magic and then agrees to release Ariel; “After two days, I will release thee.”
– Ariel leaves and Caliban is called upon by Prospero; “Come forth I say…. come thou tortoise.”
– Prospero hates Caliban for trying to rape Miranda; “thou didst seek to violate the honour of my child.”
– Caliban hates Prospero too, and recalls how he was once the ruler of the island, before Prospero and Miranda arrived; “this islands mine, by my mother Sycorax.”
– Caliban leaves and Ariel returns with Ferdinand, Prince of Naples believing his father is dead.
– Both Miranda and Ferdinand upon sight of each other are smitten.
– Miranda is curious for she’s never seen another man; “what is ‘t spirit?”
– Prospero tells Ferdinand he must work for him before marrying Miranda.
– Scene opens with Alonso, the King upset because he thinks his only son Ferdinand is dead.
– Gonzalo is doing his best to comfort the King to no avail and Sebastian and Anthonio make a joke out of it all and mock Gonzalo’s good nature.
“Fie, what a spendthrift is he of his tongue!”
– Ariel enters and sends Alonso, Gonzalo, Adrian and Francisco into an enchanted sleep. Anthonio and Sebastian plot to kill Alonso and Gonzalo.
“Here lies your brother…. if he were that which now he’s like (that’s dead) whom I with this obedient steel – three inches of it – can lay to bed forever”
– Ariel awakens Gonzalo and the others just as Sebastian and Anthonio raise their swords.
ALONSO: “Why are you drawn?”
– Sebastian and Anthonio say they heard a “hollow burst of bellowing” and drew their swords. They are believed.
– Play cuts to Caliban cursing Prospero.
“All the infections that the sun sucks up from bogs, fens, flats, on Prosper fall and make him by inchmeal a disease!”
– Trinculo, the court jester enters and Caliban mistakes him for one of Prospero’s spirits and hides under his cloak.
– Trinculo gets under the cloak to hide from the rain and thinks Caliban is a “strange fish”
“Were I in England now (as once I was) and had but this fish painted, not a holiday fool there but would give a piece of silver.”
– Stephano, the court Butler enters rather drunk and singing. He sees what he believes is a two headed beast and gives him some wine to “remove his fit”
– Caliban has never tasted alcohol before and likes it so much he believes Stephano is a God and looks upon him as a new master.
– Trinculo and Stephano are reunited when Stephano realises that Caliban doesn’t have two heads really.
– Prospero has set Ferdinand the task of carrying heavy logs. Miranda offers to help him but he declines.
“This my mean task would be as heavy to me as odious, but the mistress which I serve quickens what’s dead, and makes my labours pleasures.”
– As Miranda and Ferdinand grow closer, Prospero enters and Miranda pleads with him to stop being so harsh to Ferdinand.
– Miranda agrees to marry Ferdinand.
“I am your wife, if you will marry me;”
– We now see Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo again all drunk. Ariel wreaks havoc between them by imitating Trinculo’s voice calling Caliban a liar. Caliban becomes aggravated and Stephano punches Trinculo.
“Trinculo, if you trouble him any more in’s tale, by this hand, I will supplant some of your teeth.”
– Together they plot to kill Prospero and then Stephano will become King of the island. Ariel hears everything and returns to Prospero.
“This will I tell my master.”
– Scene three opens with the royal party again.
– Anthonio and Sebastian are still plotting to kill the King and Gonzalo.
– Prospero conjures up a banquet for the King and his entourage. Alonso is amazed.
“What harmony is this? My good friends hark!”
– The strange shapes have put down a banquet and vanished. The party go to eat the food and Ariel enters disguised as a harpy and the banquet vanishes.
– Ariel addresses the Royals who stand amazed and fearful at the sight of the harpy.
“You are three men of sin, whom destiny that hath to instrument this lower world and what is in’t, the never surfeited sea hath caused to belch up you”
– Once Ariel leaves, Alonso remorse’s his involvement in the vanquishing of Prospero and his daughter and believes that destiny killed his son because of it.
“The name of Prosper. It did bass my trespass. Therefore my son I’th ooze is bedded.”
– Sebastian and Anthonio still do not see sense and vow to “fight their legions o’er.”
– Prospero explains to Ferdinand that if the tasks he set were too harsh it was because he wanted to see whether Ferdinand was a suitable match for Miranda.
“If I have too austerely punished you, your compensation makes amends, for I have given you here a third of mine life.”
– Prospero warns Ferdinand that if he takes Miranda’s virginity before they are properly married then he shall make them childless. Ferdinand assures him he will preserve Miranda’s honour.
– Ariel is called upon to conjure a masque. Enter Iris, Junos and Ceres, the cosmic union of earth and air, fire and water and they sing songs of chaste love.
” Upon this man and maid, whose vows are that no bed-right shall be paid till hymen’s torch be lighted.”
– Iris calls upon nymphs and sickle men to perform a dance. This represents to Miranda and Ferdinand a dance of fertility.
– Prospero remembers the plot to kill him by Caliban and his new master Stephano and becomes angry.
“I had forgot that foul conspiracy of the beast Caliban and his confederates against my life.”
– Ariel informs Prospero that Caliban and company are all drunk; ” red-hot with drinking, so full of valour they smote the air”
– Prospero decides to make his enemies suffer. Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo enter and discover a line of “glistening apparel”
– They take the clothes and try them on. Ariel has led them through bracken and brambles and swamps and they have lost the remainder of their alcohol.
– Caliban grows impatient and reminds Stephano of the plot to kill Prospero.
– Prospero unleashes his spirits in the shape of dogs and hounds, on Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo.
“Go charge my goblins that they grind their joints with dry convulsions.”
– Ariel gently persuades Prospero to take pity on the King and forgive his enemies.
– In a bid to end everyone’s suffering, Prospero calls the Royal Entourage into a circle with his magic.
“Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes and groves…and deeper than ever did plummet sound I’ll drown my book.”
– At the end of his long speech where he vows to give up magic and live his last days as mortal, the Royals are stood in a circle around him charmed.
– Awakening from their trance, the Royals gasp at the sight of Prospero.
“Behold, sir King, the wronged Duke of Milan, Prospero!”
– Prospero tells the King of the plot Sebastian and Anthonio devised to kill him and tells Anthonio his opinion of him. He then forgives Anthonio for his wrongdoing.
“Whom to call brother would even infect my mouth, I do forgive thy rankest fault.”
– Prospero then brings in Ferdinand and Miranda and Alonso is overjoyed that his son is not dead and also that he has found a wife.
– Miranda is amazed by the circle of men and touches them all in turn.
“O wonder! How many goodly creatures are there here!”
– The Boatswain and the Master enter and takes everyone to the newly recovered ship that “but three glasses since we gave out split is tight and yare and bravely rigged as when we first put out to sea.”
– Before they leave, Ariel drives in Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo. They are all punished for their plot and actions. Caliban seeks forgiveness from Prospero and regrets ever worshipping Stephano.
“What a thrice-doubled ass was I to take this drunkard for a god and worship this dull fool.”
– Ariel is freed by Prospero, and vanishes immediately.
– Once everybody has returned to the ship, Prospero delivers a long speech in which he relinquishes his magic for his dukedom. He talks subtly about his death, which he believes will come very soon after he returns to Milan.
“But release me from my bands with the help of your good hands.”
“And my ending is despair, unless I be received by prayer”
“Let your indulgence set me free.”