The Tempest

What cares these roarers for the name of king? (1.1.16-18) -If you can command these elements to silence and work the peace of the present, we will not hand a rope more. Use your authority. (1.1.21-28) Boatswaintheme: The Power Of Nature: Authority, at SeaWhile at sea there is a stormBoatswain tells Gonzalo to stop bothering him because he is saying Do you think these waves care anything about kings and officials? basically mocking him- If you can make them stop, go ahead, otherwise boatswain continues by telling him to go back to his cabin. They have no control or power at sea
O, I have suffered / With those that I saw suffer! A brave vessel (1.2.1-13) -No more amazement. Tell your piteous heart / There’s no harm done. (1.2.13-15) Miranda and then ProsperoTheme: The Power of Art: Wonder and pityMiranda showing sympathy/empathy for the sailors in the stormProspero explaining that no harm was donehelps demonstrate Miranda’s character; miranda – Etymology: Latin mirari to wonder
The government I cast upon my brother And to my state grew stranger (1.2.66-77) ProsperoTheme: Masters and ServantsProspero is telling Miranda the story of what led them to being on the islandExplains that he was too wrapped up in his books and studying- he let his brother, Antonio run the state and let his power/control of it slip
Me (poor man) my library / Was dukedom large enough. (1.2.107-110)-Had I not / Four or five women once that tended me? (1.2.41-47) Prospero and MirandaTheme: Masters and ServantsTheme: Work and FreedomProspero recalls that his library was a large enough dukedom for him. – Because of this Antonio didn’t think he was capable of fulfilling duties and allied with the king to get rid of ProsperoMiranda recalls her childhood- she had many women taking care of her
-Is there more toil? (1.2.242-245)-Let me remember thee what thou hast promised . . . My liberty. (1.2.242-245) ArielTheme: Labor and Resentment/ Labor and RebellionAriel asks Prospero if there’s more work to be done and reminds Prospero that he has promised Ariel his freedom
-Dost thou forget / From what a torment I did free thee? (1.2.294-296) -If thou more murmur’st, I will rend an oak / And peg thee in his knotty entrails (1.2.294-296) Prospero Theme:Labor and Resentment/ Labor and Rebellion: Rehearsing the PastProspero reminds Ariel what conditions he found him in- trapped and tormented- it was Prospero’s spells that set him free. Prospero threatens to send him back if Ariel continues to complain
If by your art, my dearest father, you have Put the wild waters in this roar, allay them. The sky, it seems, would pour down stinking pitch But that the sea, mounting to th’ welkin’s cheek, Dashes the fire out. O, I have suffered With those that I saw suffer! A brave vessel (Who had no doubt some noble creature in her) Dashed all to pieces! O, the cry did knock Against my very heart! Poor souls, they perished! Had I been any god of power, I would Have sunk the sea within the earth or ere It should the good ship so have swallowed and The fraughting souls within her. (1.2.1-13) Miranda Theme: The Power of Art: Wonder and pityMiranda asking her father to stop the storm he has created with his magic powers- showing sympathy/empathy for the sailors in the stormhelps demonstrate Miranda’s character; miranda – Etymology: Latin mirari to wonder
miranda and admire etymology miranda – Etymology: Latin mirari to wonder. admire (OED)- Etymology: Latin admirari to wonder at; ad at + mirari to wonder.] 1. To feel or express surprise, or astonishment; to wonder, to marvel, to be surprised. 2. To view with wonder or surprise; to wonder or marvel at. 3. To regard with pleased surprise, or with wonder mingled with esteem, approbation, or affection.
My brother and thy uncle, called Antonio- I pray thee mark me – that a brother should Be so perfidious! – he whom next thyself Of all the world I loved, and to him put The manage of my state, as at that time Through all the signories it was the first, And Prospero the prime duke, being so reputed In dignity, and for the liberal arts Without a parallel. Those being all my study, The government I cast upon my brother And to my state grew stranger, being transported And rapt in secret studies. (1.2.66-77) ProsperoTheme: Masters and ServantsProspero- speaking to Miranda, telling the story of what led them to the islandclaims that he loved his brother more than anything except Mirandaput his brother in charge of managing the statePrspero was famous for his dignity and his education recalls that his library was a large enough dukedom for him.and because of this, Antonio didn’t think he was capable of fulfilling duties and allied with the king to get rid of Prospero
. . . he was The ivy which had hid my princely trunk And sucked my verdure out on’t. (1.2.85-87)I thus neglecting worldly ends, all dedicated To closeness and the bettering of my mind. (1.2.89-90) To have no screen between this part he played And him he played it for, he needs will be Absolute Milan. Me (poor man) my library Was dukedom large enough. (1.2.107-110) ProsperoTheme: Work and FreedomClaims Antonio got a taste of power and liked it- turned the people on his side so that they favored him over prospero and became like the ivy that sticks to the side of the tree, and sucked the vitality out of himProspero neglected practical matters and was dedicated to his studiesProspero claims Antonio wanted to become the duke of Milan, which he was already acting as, but Prospero only cared about his books
All hail, great master! Grave sir, hail! I come To answer thy best pleasure; be’t to fly, To swim, to dive into the fire, to ride On the curled clouds. To thy strong bidding task Ariel and all his quality. (1.2.189-193) Ariel to Prosperoshows that as a servant, Ariel is willing to do anything Prospero asks of him
This island’s mine by Sycorax my mother, Which thou tak’st from me. When thou cam’st first, Thou strok’st me and made much of me; wouldst give me Water with berries in’t; and teach me how To name the bigger light, and how the less, That burn by day and night And then I loved thee And showed thee all the qualities o’ the isle, The fresh springs, brine pits, barren place and fertile. Cursed be I that did so! All the charms Of Sycorax – toads, beetles, bats, light on you! For I am all the subjects that you have, Which first was mine own king; and here you sty me In this hard rock, whiles you do keep from me The rest o’ th’ island. (1.2.331-344) Caliban to Prospero and MirandaTheme: Colonizing Subjectsplay deals with colonization and the controlling of wild environmentsthis quote demonstrates the problematic relationship between the colonized and the colonizerCaliban is the son of Sycorax, a witchCaliban is an archetypal “savage” figure- His name is a near-anagram of “cannibal”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 claims Caliban remains ungrateful for the help and civilization Prospero has given him Theme: Language Lessons: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.
Thou most lying slave, Whom stripes may move, not kindness! I have used thee (Filth as thou art) with humane care, and lodged thee In mine own cell till thou didst seek to violate The honor of my child. (1.2.344-348) Prospero to CalibanProspero claims that he has cared for and educated Caliban, or did until Caliban tried to rape Miranda.
O ho, O ho! Would’t had been done! Thou didst prevent me; I had peopled else This isle with Calibans. (1.2.349-351) Caliban to ProsperoClaims that if Prospero hadn’t kept him from raping Miranda, there would have been more people like him
Abhorrèd slave, Which any print of goodness wilt not take, Being capable of all ill! I pitied thee, Took pains to make thee speak, taught thee each hour One thing or other. When thou didst not, savage, Know thine own meaning, but wouldst gabble like A thing most brutish, I endowed thy purposes With words that made them known. But thy vile race, Though thou didst learn, had that in’t which good natures Could not abide to be with. Therefore wast thou Deservedly confined into this rock, who hadst Deserved more than a prison. (1.2.351-362) Miranda to CalibanYou horrid slave, you can’t be trained to be good, and you’re capable of anything evil! I pitied you, worked hard to teach you to speak, and taught you some new thing practically every hour. When you didn’t know what you were saying, and were babbling like an animal, I helped you find words to make your point understandable. But you had bad blood in you, no matter how much you learned, and good people couldn’t stand to be near you. So you got what you deserved, and were locked up in this cave, which is more fitting for the likes of you than a prison would be.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.
You taught me language, and my profit on’t Is, I know how to curse. The red plague rid you For learning me your language! (1.2.363-365) Caliban to Miranda and ProsperoSelf-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.
The Sea Venture and The Virginia Company in June of 1609 a fleet of nine ships carrying four hundred colonists set sail from England for Virginia -the expedition was sponsored by the Virginia Company, founded by royal charter a few years earlier (Shakespeare knew some of the key figures in the Virginia Company) -in July of 1609 the flagship, The Sea Venture, was shipwrecked in the Bermudas by a hurricane; the flagship was carrying the governor of the colony -in May of 1610 the shipwrecked colonists finally arrived in Virginiarelates to plot of Tempest-in 1610 the first report on the shipwreck appeared: Sylvester Jourdain’s A Discovery of the Barmudas, otherwise called the Ile of Divels-a second report – also published in 1610 – was issued by the Virginia Company: The True Declaration of the Estate of the Colonie of Virginiademonstrates the power of written language?
Had I plantation of this isle, my lord- . . . And were the king on’t, what would I do? . . . I’ th’ commonwealth I would by contraries Execute all things. For no kind of traffic Would I admit; no name of magistrate Letters should not be known; riches, poverty, And use of service, none; contract, succession, Bourn, bound of land, tilth, vineyard, none; No use of metal, corn, or wine, or oil; No occupation; all men idle, all; And women too, but innocent and pure; No sovereignty.All things in common nature should produce Without sweat or endeavor. Treason, felony, Sword, pike, knife, gun, or need of any engine Would I not have; but nature should bring forth, Of it own kind, all foison, all abundance, To feed my innocent people.I would with such perfection govern, sir, T’ excel the Golden Age. (2.1.148-175) GonzaloTheme: New Worlds and UtopiasGonzalo descirbes his utopiaclaims that if he was the one colonizing the island:In my kingdom I’d do everything differently from the way it’s usually done. I wouldn’t allow any commerce. There’d be no officials or administrators. There’d be no schooling or literature. There’d be no riches, no poverty, and no servants—none. No contracts or inheritance laws; no division of the land into private farms, no metal-working, agriculture, or vineyards.There’d be no work. Men would have nothing to do, and women also—but they’d be innocent and pure. There’d be no kingship—Everything would be produced without labor, and would be shared by all. There’d be no treason, crimes, or weapons. Nature would produce its harvests in abundance, to feed my innocent people.Wants to be king of a place with no kingdom- the ironies show that the utopia he would want is impossible to achievealso the responses from Antonio and Sebastian who scoff at him show that the utopia he would want wouldn’t be favored by most, once again making it impossiblerelates to Montaigne’s vision in “Of Cannibals”The island of “The Tempest” can be considered a space where Gonzalo’s vision and therefore Montaigne’s could potentially become a reality”all men idle, all and women too, but innocent and pure” “without sweat or endeavor”- there would be no procreation, the colony would die out”and were the king on’t” (referring to himself) then goes on to say there would be “no name of magistrate” “no sovereignty”
What have we here? A man or a fish? Dead or alive? A fish! He smells like a fish; a very ancient and fishlike smell; a kind of not of the newest Poor-John. 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. 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. (2.2.25-34) TrinculoTheme: New Worlds and Cynicism: The Market for New World WonderTrinculo is referring to Calibanclaims that in England the men won’t give a penny to a lame beggar, but they’ll pay ten cents to look at a freak show exhibit.
This is some monster of the isle, with four legs, who hath got, as I take it, an ague. Where the devil should he learn our language? I will give him some relief, if it be but for that. If I can recover him, and keep him tame, and get to Naples with him, he’s a present for any emperor that ever trod on neat’s leather. (2.2.66-72) StephanoTheme: New Worlds and Cynicism: The Market for New World WonderReferring to CalibanSays he is willing help Caliban who appears to have an ache because he speaks their languagebut then says after he helps him he plans to capture him and give him away as a present for an emporer
When thou cam’st first, Thou strok’st me and made much of me . . . . . . And then I loved thee And showed thee all the qualities o’ the isle, The fresh springs, brine pits, barren place and fertile. (1.2.331-344) CalibanTheme: New Worlds and Cynicism: Idyllic VisionsIn speech to Prospero- shows he saw prospero as god-like
I’ll show thee every fertile inch o’ th’ island; . . . I prithee let me bring thee where crabs grow; And I with my long nails will dig thee pignuts, Show thee a jay’s nest, and instruct thee how To snare the nimble marmoset. I’ll bring thee To clust’ring filberts, and sometimes I’ll get thee Young scamels from the rock. Wilt thou go with me? (2.2.155-180) CalibanTheme: New Worlds and Cynicism: Idyllic Visionswent from seeing Prospero as God-like to seeing Stephano as God-like- wanting to serve him
My spirits, as in a dream, are all bound up.My father’s loss, the weakness which I feel,The wrack of all my friends, nor this man’s threatsTo whom I am subdued, are but light to me,Might I but through my prison once a dayBehold this maid. All corners else o’ th’ earthLet liberty make use of. Space enoughHave I in such a prison. (1.2.487-494) FerdinandTheme: Trapped in the past/ welcoming the future: Transformation: New Generation, Young Loveall the bad he describes would be ok to him if he could simply see Miranda through a prison window once a day- he doesn’t need any more freedom than thatshows his infatuation
Most sure, the goddessOn whom these airs attend! Vouchsafe my prayerMay know if you remain upon this island,And that you will some good instruction giveHow I may bear me here. My prime request,Which I do last pronounce, is (O you wonder!)If you be maid or no? (1.2.422-428) FerdinandTheme:Trapped in the past/ welcoming the future: Transformation: New Generation, Young Loveto miranda
Jacobean Court Masque relates to theme: Prospero’s masque/ Prospero’s visionMasques were in vogue at the Jacobean court in the latter part of Shakespeare’s career-Masques were famous for elaborate spectacle: extravagant sets and costumes, music and dance, the choreography of objects and bodies -Shakespeare’s friend and competitor Ben Jonson wrote many Jacobean masques; Jonson would compose the texts, and Inigo Jones a brilliantdesigner would create the elaborate sets and stages -Masques were symbolic dramas, usually allegorical and they were almost always celebrations of aristocracy and royalty; masques at court were designed to celebrate King James; they were often structured so that conflict and dissent would give way to assent and harmony
Honor, riches, marriage blessing, Long continuance, and increasing, Hourly joys be still upon you! Juno sings her blessings upon you. Earth’s increase, foison plenty, Barns and garners never empty, Vines and clustering bunches growing, Plants with goodly burthen bowing; Spring come to you at the farthest In the very end of harvest. Scarcity and want shall shun you; Ceres’ blessing so is on you. (4.1.106-117) Juno and CeresTheme: Prospero’s masque/ Prospero’s visionJuno and Ceres bless Miranda and FerdinandJuno- honor, riches, marriage blessings, long life, and unending joyCere- that they will have plenty and want nothing-relates to Gonzalo’s utopia
This is a most majestic vision, and Harmonious charmingly. . . . Let me live here ever! So rare a wond’red father and a wise Makes this place Paradise. (4.1.118-124) FerdinandTheme: Prospero’s masque/ Prospero’s visionin response to Juno and Cere’s blessingscalls it paradise- also relating to Gonzalo’s utopia
You do look, my son, in a movèd sort, As if you were dismayed: be cheerful, sir. Our revels now are ended. These our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits and Are 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 behindWe are such stuff As dreams are made on, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep. Sir, I am vexed. Bear with my weakness; my old brain is troubled. (4.1.146-159) ProsperoTheme: The Return of the Repressed/ Labor and RebellionProspero to FerdinandFerdinand has noticed that something has seemed to upset ProsperoProspero is telling him not to worry about him- he just has a troubled mind because he’s old (but in reality its because he remembers that Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo plan on harming him)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.
And mine shall. Hast thou, which art but air, a touch, a feeling Of their afflictions, and shall not myself, One of their kind, that relish all as sharply, Passion as they, be kindlier moved than thou art?Though with their high wrongs I am struck to th’ quick, Yet with my nobler reason ‘gainst my fury Do I take part. The rarer action is In virtue than in vengeance. They being penitent, The sole drift of my purpose doth extend Not a frown further. Go, release them, Ariel. My charms I’ll break, their senses I’ll restore, And they shall be themselves. (5.1.17-32) ProsperoTheme: Swerving toward comedy: Empathy and HumanityProspero to ArielAriel tells Prospero that the men are imprisoned like he asked and says that if he were human, he would feel sorry for them. Prospero, in response says that he would too. He says that if you, Ariel, feel sorry for them, you can only imagine how I, a human, feel.-shows that empathy is a natural human characteristicHe says that it is better to act in virtue than in vengeance so now that they have shown they are sorry he will forgive them and take the spell off
Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes, and groves, And ye that on the sands with printless foot Do chase the ebbing Neptune, and do fly him When he comes back; you demi-puppets that By moonshine do the green sour ringlets make, Whereof the ewe not bites, and you whose pastime Is to make midnight mushrumps, that rejoice To hear the solemn curfew; by whose aid, (Weak masters though ye be) I have bedimmed The noontide sun, called forth the mutinous winds, And ‘twixt the green sea and the azured vault Set roaring warto the dread rattling thunder Have I given fire and rifted Jove’s stout oak With his own bolt; the strong-based promontory Have I made shake and by the spurs plucked up The pine and cedar; graves at my command Have waked their sleepers, oped, and let ’em forth By my so potent art But this rough magic I here abjure; and when I have required Some heavenly music (which even now I do) To work mine end upon their senses that This airy charm is for, I’ll break my staff, Bury it certain fathoms in the earth, And deeper than did ever plummet sound I’ll drown my book. (5.1.33-57) ProsperoTheme: Swerving toward Comedy: Abjuring Magic / Drowning BooksHere is claiming that he will stop using magicexplains his power through exampleshe talks about how he has a mastery of nature- nature at its most violenthe can raise the deadAs Prospero is renouncing his magic, we are supposed to understand just how frightening that magic is
As Prospero is renouncing his magic, we are supposed to understand just how frightening that magic is GonzaloTheme: The Bitter and the SweetWas the Duke of Milan kicked out of Milan so his children could become kings of Naples? Oh, this is cause for an extraordinary joy that should be engraved in gold on pillars to last forever. On one and the same trip Claribel found a husband in Tunis, and Ferdinand, her brother, found a wife where he was shipwrecked; Prospero found his dukedom on a poor island; and all of us found ourselves when we lost control of ourselves.
Now my charms are all o’erthrown, And what strength I have’s mine own, Which is most faint. . . . Let me not, Since I have my dukedom got And pardoned the deceiver, dwell In this bare island by your spell . . . But release me from my bands With the help of your good hands. Gentle breath of yours my sails Must fill, or else my project fails, Which was to please. . . . As you from crimes would pardoned be,Let your indulgence set me free. (Epilogue, 1-20) ProsperoLast wordsprospero finally loking toward the futureAsking for help, acknowledges that he needs helpHelp in moving on and letting go of past
Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises, Sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not. Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments Will hum about mine ears; and sometime voices That, if I then had waked after long sleep, Will make me sleep again; and then, in dreaming, The clouds methought would open and show riches Ready to drop upon me, that, when I waked, I cried to dream again. (3.2.140-148) 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.”Close
miranda The daughter of Prospero, Miranda was brought to the island at an early age and has never seen any men other than her father and Caliban, though she dimly remembers being cared for by female servants as an infant. Because she has been sealed off from the world for so long, Miranda’s perceptions of other people tend to be naïve and non-judgmental. She is compassionate, generous, and loyal to her father.-innocent wonder- sees everything with new eyes, may think this is a brave new world
Ariel Prospero’s spirit helper. Ariel is referred to throughout this SparkNote and in most criticism as “he,” but his gender and physical form are ambiguous. Rescued by Prospero from a long imprisonment at the hands of the witch Sycorax, Ariel is Prospero’s servant until Prospero decides to release him. He is mischievous and ubiquitous, able to traverse the length of the island in an instant and to change shapes at will. He carries out virtually every task that Prospero needs accomplished in the play.
Caliban Another of Prospero’s servants. Caliban, the son of the now-deceased witch Sycorax, acquainted Prospero with the island when Prospero arrived. Caliban believes that the island rightfully belongs to him and has been stolen by Prospero. His speech and behavior is sometimes coarse and 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).near-anagram “cannibal”
Ferdinand Son and heir of Alonso. Ferdinand seems in some ways to be as pure and naïve as Miranda. He falls in love with her upon first sight and happily submits to servitude in order to win her father’s approval.
Alonso King of Naples and father of Ferdinand. Alonso aided Antonio in unseating Prospero as Duke of Milan twelve years before. As he appears in the play, however, he is acutely aware of the consequences of all his actions. He blames his decision to marry his daughter to the Prince of Tunis on the apparent death of his son. In addition, after the magical banquet, he regrets his role in the usurping of Prospero.
Antonio Prospero’s brother. Antonio quickly demonstrates that he is power-hungry and foolish. In Act II, scene i, he persuades Sebastian to kill the sleeping Alonso. He then goes along with Sebastian’s absurd story about fending off lions when Gonzalo wakes up and catches Antonio and Sebastian with their swords drawn.
Sebastian Alonso’s brother. Like Antonio, he is both aggressive and cowardly. He is easily persuaded to kill his brother in Act II, scene i, and he initiates the ridiculous story about lions when Gonzalo catches him with his sword drawn.
Gonzalo An old, honest lord, Gonzalo helped Prospero and Miranda to escape after Antonio usurped Prospero’s title. Gonzalo’s speeches provide an important commentary on the events of the play, as he remarks on the beauty of the island when the stranded party first lands, then on the desperation of Alonso after the magic banquet, and on the miracle of the reconciliation in Act V, scene i.
Trinculo & Stephano Trinculo, a jester, and Stephano, a drunken butler, are two minor members of the shipwrecked party. They provide a comic foil to the other, more powerful pairs of Prospero and Alonso and Antonio and Sebastian. Their drunken boasting and petty greed reflect and deflate the quarrels and power struggles of Prospero and the other noblemen.
Boatswain Appearing only in the first and last scenes, the Boatswain is vigorously good-natured. He seems competent and almost cheerful in the shipwreck scene, demanding practical help rather than weeping and praying. And he seems surprised but not stunned when he awakens from a long sleep at the end of the play.
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. The 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. The 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.
colonizing subjects 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). In 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.The 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 intertwined.

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