Reading Guide for The Tempest Act II

At the start of Act II Scene 1, Gonzalo tries to comfort Alonso while Sebastian and Antonio make wisecracks to one another. Why is Alonso in need of comfort? What does he think has happened? Hint–he reveals the cause of his sorrow on page 25. Alonso is in need of comfort because he regrets having married his daughter away in Tunis; if he has not done married her away, then his son would not be dead in the ocean
How does Sebastian speak to Alonso regarding Alonso’s supposed loss? Gonzalo is trying to comfort Alonso for his loss, but instead Sebastian starts to mock him saying “enjoy these words like cold oatmeal”
How does Ariel put most of the men to sleep? Who remains awake? Ariel enters playing music, which puts all of the men to sleep with the exception of Sebastian and Antonio
What is Antonio suggesting when he says to Sebastian, “My strong imagination sees a crown Dropping upon thy head” (28)? Antonio is suggesting to Sebastian that he should kill his brother and become king
Why do you think Sebastian seems to pretend that he thinks Antonio is talking in his sleep? What advantage is given by pretending that Antonio is talking in his sleep? Sebastian is pretending that Antonio is asleep to avoid conspiring against the king; you are not responsible for what you say when you are asleep so the men are doing nothing wrong
If Ferdinand is drowned, who does Antonio argue would succeed Alonso if Alonso were to die? If Alonso were to die, Antonio argues that Sebastian would become king because Claribel is too far away to claim the throne
What is Sebastian suggesting when he says, “I remember You did supplant your brother Prospero” (30)? Sebastian is suggesting that Antonio overthrew his brother so maybe he could do it too
When Sebastian asks Antonio about his conscience, what does Antonio say? When Sebastian asks Antonio about his conscience and Antonio says that he does not feel a conscience
What does Antonio mean when he says, “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)” (31)? Antonio is comparing death to a permanent nap
Why do you think Antonio wants Sebastian to kill Gonzalo? Antonio wants Sebastian to kill Gonzalo because he is the only honest man in the group; he has a kind heart and Antonio knows that will back fire
What does Sebastian say Antonio will gain if Sebastian becomes king?
Who awakens Alonso? Ariel wakes Gonzalo, who screams and wakes up Alonso right as the men are about to kill him
Act II Scene 2 is a scene of drunken, bawdy humor. This type of scene shows the lower classes parodying the upper classes. While The Tempest is primarily a tragedy and a comedy, it also employs elements of farce in the scenes involving these characters. We will not overly concern ourselves with this scene, but you should read it and pay attention to the humor found in the lower classes arguing about how they will now be royalty on this island, and Caliban will be their subject. The theme of the desire for power being developed between Antonio and Sebastian is parodied by Stephano and Trinculo.