The Tempest Plot

Act 1 Scene 1: A ship at sea The Master commands the Boatswain to save the ship from running aground. The Boatswain gives instructions to the sailors but finds his work hampered by the courtiers. He orders them to go back to their cabins. The Boatswain reminds Gonzalo of humanity’s weakness in the face of nature’s violence. Gonzalo finds comfort in the Boatswain’s face. The Boatswain again rebukes the courtiers, and is cursed in return. The Boatswain orders action to save the ship, but disasters strikes. Antonio again curses the Boatswain. The crew abandon hope. Gonzalo accepts whatever is to come, but wishes for death on land.
Act 1 Scene 2 pt. 1: The island Miranda begs her father, Prospero, to calm the tempest. She feels the suffering of the shipwrecked people, and is full of pity for them. Prospero assures her that no harm has been done. Prospero decides to tell Miranda her life story. He again assures her that no one was hurt in the shipwreck. He questions her about what she remembers, then reveals that he was once duke of Milan. As Prospero wanted to pursue his studies, he made his brother, Antonio, ruler of the state. The treacherous Antonio seized all power from Prospero. He describes how his neglect of his duties aroused his brother’s evil nature. Enjoying the benefits of playing the duke, Antonio aspired to the position himself, and plotted with Alonso, the king of Naples. Alonso made a treaty with Antonio to overthrow Prospero. Antonio treacherously admitted Alonso’s army into Milan. Prospero and Miranda were captured and cast adrift in a tiny, unseaworthy boat. Prospero says that he found comfort and strength in Miranda’s smile, in divine providence and in Gonzalo’s help. He believes that Fortune now favors him, as his enemies are within his reach. Miranda falls asleep.
Act 1 Scene 2 pt. 2: The island Prospero calls to Ariel, who reports the he has carried out Prospero’s commands in exact detail. Ariel’s miraculous display of fire cause terror on the ship. Ferdinand was the first passenger to leap overboard. Ariel reports that the ship’s passengers are safe on the shore, the sailors are asleep on board, and the rest of the fleet is returning to Naples, mourning Alonso. Ariel, to Prospero’s annoyance, demands his freedom. He rebukes Ariel, accusing him of resentfulness. Prospero reminds Ariel of Sycorax who, enraged by Ariel’s refusal to obey her, imprisoned him inside a tree, where he suffered agony for 12 years. Prospero describes how he released Ariel, bu threatens further punishment if Ariel continues to complain. He orders Ariel to disguise himself as an invisible sea-nymph, wakes Miranda and proposes to visit Caliban. Ariel is given secret orders by Prospero. Caliban curses Prospero and Miranda, and Prospero threatens painful punishments. Caliban recalls how Prospero had treated him kindly at first, but then enslaved him. Prospero accuses Caliban of attempting to rape Miranda. Miranda tells Caliban that he deserves to be imprisoned because he is evil. Caliban curses her but, fearful of Prospero’s threats, obeys the order to leave.
Act 1 scene 2 pt. 3: The island Ariel’s first song is an invitation to dance upon the sands. Ferdinand is amazed by the music that has calmed both the storm and his grief. Ariel’s second song describes a wonderful transformation after death. Miranda wonders at Ferdinand, imagining him to be a spirit. Prospero assures he that Ferdinand is human. Ferdinand thinks that Miranda is a goddess, and is surprised to hear her speak his language. Ferdinand, believing his father dead, says he is king of Naples. Miranda and Ferdinand have fallen in love. To test their love, Prospero accuses Ferdinand of usurpation. Miranda defends Ferdinand. Prospero threatens harsh punishment on Ferdinand, who draws his sword. Prospero ‘freezes’ Ferdinand with a spell, and forces him to drop the sword. Prospero scolds Miranda for supporting Ferdinand. Ferdinand says that, in spite of all his troubles, he will be content if he allowed to see Miranda once a day from his prison. Prospero promises Ariel freedom in return for his services.
Act 2 Scene 1: A remote part of the island Gonzalo tries to cheer Alonso up by reminding him of their miraculous survival. Sebastian mocks Gonzalo, deliberately mistaking his words. Alonso begs Gonzalo to be quiet. Antonio and Sebastian mockingly bet on which courtier will speak first. They comment cynically on the optimistic remarks of others. Gonzalo is amazed that everyone’s clothes are clean and dry. Antonio and Sebastian laugh sarcastically about Gonzalo’s references to widow Dido and to the location of Carthage. Gonzalo again tries to cheer Alonso. Alonso refuses to be comforted. He fears that his daughter and son are lost forever. Francisco claims that Ferdinand probably survived. Sebastian blames Alonso for all the disasters, but is reprimanded by Gonzalo. Gonzalo seeks to cheer the king with an account of an ideal world, where everything is opposite to usual social arrangements. Antonio and Sebastian mock Gonzalo. He criticizes their empty sense of humor. Gonzalo continues to reprimand Antonio and Sebastian. Ariel’s music sends some of the courtiers to sleep. Antonio offers to guard Alonso as he sleeps, then hints that Sebastian could become king. Sebastian is puzzled by Antonio’s words, but begins to see significance in them. He asks Antonio for advice. Antonio says that fear and idleness cause failure, and asserts confidently that Ferdinand has drowned. Antonio predicts the fulfillment of Sebastian’s greatest ambitions. Alonso’s heir, Claribel, is so far distant that destiny itself invites Antonio and Sebastian to act. Sebastian recalls that Antonio overthrew Prospero. Antonio points out his gains from overthrowing Prospero. He says that he has no conscience, and proposes the murder of Alonso and Gonzalo. Sebastian agrees, but asks to talk further. Ariel awakens the sleepers. Sebastian and Antonio explain that their swords are drawn to protect the king from lions. Gonzalo tells that he was woken by a humming noise. The courtiers leave, urged by Alonso to search for Ferdinand.
Act 2 Scene 2: Near Caliban’s cave Caliban curses Prospero, saying that Prospero’s creatures control and torment him for the slightest offense. Fearing that Trinculo is one of Prospero’s spirits, Caliban hides himself under his cloak. Trinculo is fearful of the weather. He discovers Caliban, and thinks of using him to make his fortune in England. Hearing thunder, Trinculo creeps under Caliban’s cloak. Stephano enters, drunk and singing. Claiming to be brave, Stephano thinks of making a profit out of the four-legged ‘monster’. Caliban cries out in fear. Stephano forces Caliban to drink, but is frightened by sound of Trinculo’s voice. Stephano pulls Trinculo out from under Caliban’s cloak. Trinculo is delighted to find Stephano alive. Caliban thinks that Stephano is a god, and decides to become his servant. Caliban is totally in awe of Stephano, and swears obedience to him. He promises to serve Stephano by showing him the island’s resources. Trinculo mocks Caliban’s desire to worship a drunkard. Caliban continues with his promise to serve Stephano and to share with him the secret resources of the island. Stephano decides to become king of the island. Caliban sings about his freedom from Prospero.
Act 3 Scene 1: Near Prospero’s cave Ferdinand reflects that his hard labor is pleasurable, because his thoughts of Miranda make the work enjoyable. Miranda pleads with him to rest. She says the the logs will weep for Ferdinand as they burn. Miranda wants to carry the logs, but Ferdinand prevents her. Prospero observes that Miranda is in love. Ferdinand declares his love for her. He says that, of all the women he has known, Miranda is without equal. Miranda declares her love for Ferdinand, and he describes how he fell in love with her at first sight. He professes hi overwhelming love for her. Miranda weeps, and Prospero blesses their love. Miranda indirectly explains her tears, then openly says she want to marry Ferdinand. He willingly agrees. Prospero expresses pleasure.
Act 3 Scene 2: Near Caliban’s cave Trinculo comments skeptically on his own and his companions’ intelligence. Stephano promises to make Caliban his deputy. Caliban accuses Trinculo of cowardice, and is mocked in return. Stephano threatens to hand Trinculo for mutiny. Ariel begins to create trouble for Trinculo. Stephano threatens Trinculo. Caliban begs Stephano to kill Prospero. Ariel gets Trinculo into further trouble by again imitating his voice. Stephano beats Trinculo, who blames the wine for Stephano’s behavior. Caliban proposes a plan to kill Prospero. Stephano agrees to do the deed. He says that he will take Miranda as his queen, and will make Trinculo and Caliban his deputies. Stephano apologizes for beating Trinculo. The three drunkards sing raucously, but Ariel’s music strikes fear into Stephano and Trinculo. Caliban urges them to not be afraid, and describes delightful sounds and wonderful dream. They follow Ariel’s music.
Act 3 Scene 3: A remote part of the island Gonzalo and Alonso are wearied by their wanderings. Alonso gives up hope of finding Ferdinand alive. Sebastian and Antonio again plot to murder Alonso. A banquet magically appears, brought in by Prospero’s spirits. The courtiers wonder at what they have seen, saying it resembled something from mythology or travelers’ tales. Prospero comments on the evil of Alonso, Sebastian, and Antonio, and hints at further marvels. Alonso, Sebastian, and Antonio prepare to eat, but the banquet vanishes. Disguised as a harpy, Ariel declares that he cannot be harmed. He accuses the three men of overthrowing Prospero, and calls on them to repent. Prospero congratulates Ariel on his performance. Alonso, remorseful, decides to drown himself. Sebastian and Antonio leave to fight the spirits. Gonzalo says that all three feel guilty. He sends the younger courtiers after them.
Act 4 Scene 1 pt. 1: Near Prospero’s cave Prospero tells Ferdinand that he has successfully endured the testing of his love, and can therefore marry Miranda. Prospero warns against sex before marriage: it will bring misery. Ferdinand says that he will never do anything to dishonor his marriage with Miranda. Prospero sends Ariel to arrange another dramatic spectacle, then again warns Ferdinand against passion. Ferdinand promises that his love will overcome his lust. The masque begins. Iris describes Ceres’s fertility, and commands her to join Juno in celebration. Ceres asks why she must obey.
Act 4 Scene 1 pt. 2: Near Prospero’s cave Iris tells Ceres that they are meeting to celebrate a wedding. She assures Ceres that Venus and Cupid will not be present, and that they have failed to bewitch Ferdinand and Miranda. Juno and Ceres sing a blessing. Prospero says that the spirits are enacting his fantasies. Ferdinand is full of happy wonder. Harvesters and nymphs dance at Iris’s command, but are ordered off by Prospero when he remembers Caliban’s plot. The lovers comment on Prospero’s anger. Prospero tells Ferdinand not to be troubled, because everything in the masque is ephemera, and will fade. Prospero questions Ariel about Caliban and his accomplices. Ariel describes how he led Caliban, Stephano, and Trinculo into a stinking pool. Prospero plans to punish them further, and reflects that Caliban is unteachable. Ariel hangs up gaudy clothes as a trap. Trinculo and Stephano complain about losing their wine, but Caliban urges them to commit the murder. The gaudy clothes attract the drunkards’ interest, much to Caliban’s dismay. Despite Caliban’s warning, Stephano and Trinculo are distracted by the gaudy clothes. Spirits disguised as dogs drive the conspirators away. Prospero says his enemies are in his power. He promises freedom to Ariel.
Act 5 Scene 1 pt. 1: Near Prospero’s cave Prospero foresees the success of his scheme. Ariel reports the troubled state of the king and courtiers, and expresses compassion for them. Moved by Ariel’s feelings, Prospero says that he, too, will pity them. Prospero decides on mercy rather than vengeance. He appeals to the spirits who have helped him to perform miracles, and declares that he will give up his magic powers. The court party enters. Prospero praises and weeps with Gonzalo, criticizes Alonso and Sebastian, and though recognizing Antonio’s evil nature, forgives him. Prospero decides to dress as the duke of Milan. Ariel sings about a future of everlasting summer, and is sent by Prospero to fetch the sailors. Prospero presents himself to the amazed court. Alonso asks for Prospero’s forgiveness, and resigns all claim to Milan. Prospero embraces Gonzalo. He reminds Antonio and Sebastian that he knows of they treachery to the king, but forgives them. Alonso regrets the loss of his son. Prospero says he recently lost his daughter.
Act 5 Scene 1 pt. 2: Near Prospero’s cave Alonso wishes that Ferdinand and Miranda were married, and he was dead. Prospero comments on the courtiers’ amazement, then reveals Ferdinand and Miranda playing chess. Ferdinand expresses gratitude to the sea. Miranda marvels at the sight of the king and courtiers. Ferdinand tells his story, and Prospero urges that sorrows be forgotten. Gonzalo rejoices at the happy outcome of the voyage for everyone. Alonso blesses Ferdinand and Miranda. Gonzalo jokingly greets the Boatswain, who, though dazed, announces that the ship is seaworthy and the crew is safe. Alonso is amazed by everything he sees and hears. Prospero promises to explain. He sends Ariel to fetch Caliban, Stephano, and Trinculo. They Arrive. Caliban admires the courtiers. Prospero describes the drunkards and admits responsibility for Caliban. Trinculo staggers about and Stephano has severe cramps. Ordered by Prospero to behave, Caliban hopes for wisdom and forgiveness. He rejects Stephano. Prospero invites Alonso and the others to hear his story. Prospero promises a favorable voyage to Naples, and sets Ariel free. Alone on stage, Prospero admits that all his magical powers have gone. He asks the audience for applause, and for forgiveness to set him free.