The Tempest by William Shakespeare

Summary: The Tempest by William Shakespeare is a mixture of drama, comedy and romance taken to be a mirror of the depth of the human characterture in the form of Shakespeare's autobiographical container, Prospero.

Characters (Dramatis Personae):

Prospero - The rightful Duke of Milan

Alonso, King of Naples - Planned to overthrow Prospero

Sebastian - Alonso's brother

Antonio - Was able to steal the dukedom of Milan from his brother

Miranda - Prospero's daughter

Ferdinand - Alonso's son

Ariel - Spirit of the island

Gonzolo - The honest councilor to the King

Adrian and Francisco - Noblemen

Caliban - Prospero's only subject and native of The Island

Trinculo - Alonso's drunken fool

Stephano - Trinculo's friend, Alonso's butler

Master of a Ship, Mariners - Try to get the ship to sail through the storm in the beginning and brings back the party in the end

Boatswain - Ship Master's right hand, argues with Alonso

Iris, Ceres, Juno, Nymphs, Reaper - presented by spirits

Act I:

  • On a Ship at Sea. A tempestuous noise of thunder and lightning heard and shipmaster and Boatswain try to keep the ship from wrecking
  • The boatswain is irritated by Alonso, Sebastian, Ferdinand, Antonio, Gonzalo when they go on deck
  • Antonio, Gonzalo and Sebastian bid their lives good-bye
  • The Boatswain: "What cares these roarers for the name of king?"
  • Introduced to Ariel who says that all have made it ashore according to plan
  • Prospero had created the tempest that was battling the ship and people there upon
  • Miranda says,"If by your art, my dearest father, you have / Put the wild waters in this roar, allay them"; this is to tell him to stop the tempest
  • Prospero was once the Duke of Milan but was banished to this island with Miranda by Antonio, his brother who took over Prospero's dukedom of Milan
  • An introduction to Ariel, Prospero's magic fairy who tells about the men onboard the ship have all made it ashore unharmed as planned
  • Caliban, a misformed beast is also introduced.
  • Aerial leads Ferdinand to Miranda and the two immediately fall in love
  • Prospero decides to be rude to Ferdinand, fearful to enter a courtship to rapidly

Act II:

  • The rest of the shipwreck survivors wake up on The Island
  • Having just been in a shipwreck, the survivors have clothes that smell and feel fresh like one's bought at market which amazes them
  • With the exception of Sebastian and Antonio, the song puts them all to sleep again
  • Prospero loses his title as Duke of Milan
  • Antonio manipulates Sebastian, King Alonso's brother by replacing King Alonso
  • Sebastian and Antonio are about to kill Alonso in his sleep but Ariel awakens everyone and they make an excuse for drawing their swords
  • Alonso in a drunken stupor and discovers Trinculo and Caliban under a cloak and thinks that he can make money in England displaying this novelty
  • Stephano, Trinculo's friend eventually finds Trinculo under Caliban's huge frame
  • Stephano gives Caliban alcohol, causing Caliban to think Stephano is more powerful than Prospero whom Caliban hates.
  • The three men (Stephano, Caliban and Trinculo) set off together later deciding to kill Prospero

Act III:

  • Prospero who is now invisible to Ferdinand and Miranda, witnesses Ferdinand and Miranda expressing their deep love for one another
  • Ferdinand, realizing he is witnessing a truly rare meeting of hearts, approves of Ferdinand for his daughter
  • Ferdinand takes Miranda for his wife;Ferdinand:"Ay, with a heart as willing as bondage e'er of freedom: here's my hand."
  • Prospero is pleased about Ferdinand taking Miranda for his wife;Prospero:"Fair encounter of two most rare affections! Heavens rain grace on that which breeds between them!"
  • Prospero takes care of errands before dinner;Prospero:"At nothing can be more. I'll to my book; for yet, ere supper time, must I perform much business appertaining."
  • Stephano, Trinculo and Caliban continue on with their plans to murder Prospero
  • Caliban blindly follows Stephano who has delusions of grandeur
  • Caliban is thought to be foolish by Trinculo in his efforts to follow Stephano
  • Caliban suggests some gruesome ways to kill Prospero. Ariel lures entrances the group and lures them away
  • Alonso, Sebastian, Antonio, Gonzalo, Adrian and Francisco and others witness a banquet on the island but it is an illusion
  • Ariel returns and verbally punishes Alonso, King of Naples, Antonio and Sebastian for their roles in exiling Prospero, Ariel's master

Act IV:

  • A betrothel masque is played for the party by the spirits of Prospero: Ceres, Juno, Iris and brings about blessings for Miranda's and Ferdinand's good marriage
  • Prospero tells Ferdinand that he no longer will punish him, but instead will freely give her daughter's hand in marriage to him
  • Prospero conjures up a beautiful, mythical, illusory party to celebrate
  • Goddesses and nymphs attend the party
  • Prospero instructs Ariel to lead the shipwrecked men on the island to him
  • Stephano has "bloody thoughts"
  • Prospero promises Ariel that he will soon be free;Prospero:"Lie at my mercy all mine enemies:Shortly shall all my laboursnend, and thou [Ariel] shalt have the air at freedom: for a little...follow, and do me service"

Act V:

  • Prospero brings everyone except Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo before him in a circle
  • Prospero verbally reprimands several of the men who exiled him while other nobles are in his magic circle, enchanted
  • Prospero tells Ariel that he will soon be free and that Prospero will miss him
  • Prospero intends to destroy his ability to use magic
  • Prospero forgives King Alonso
  • Prospero tells Sebastian and Antonio he will keep secret their plan to kill Alonso and Forgives Sebastian and Antonio
  • King Alonso is glad to see his son Ferdinand is alive
  • Ferdinand's marriage to Miranda is announced
  • Prospero forgives Stephano and Trinculo
  • Caliban is embarrassed that he followed a fool (Trinculo)
  • Caliban is given his freedom
  • Prospero announces that in the morning they will all set sail for Milan
  • Ariel is set free


  • Prospero asks the audience to free him as the Duke of Milan in Naples
  • The audience is told by Prospero that they have a great power and can decide future events

Other Notes:

  • A tempest is a violent wind
  • Often compared to A Midsummer Night's Dream also by William Shakespeare

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