The Tempest by William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616)

The Tempest
by William Shakespeare
(1564 - 1616)

Type of Work:

Romantic fantasy


A remote island; fifteenth century

Principal Characters

Prospero, the rightful Duke of Milan,
cast away on an island in the sea

Miranda, his beautiful daughter

Alonso, King of Naples

Ferdinand, Alonso\'s son

Antonio, Prospero\'s wicked brother, and
false Duke of Milan

Sebastian, Alonso\'s brother

Gonzalo, a kind philosopher

Trinculo and Stephano, two drunken courtiers

Ariel, Prospero\'s spirit servant

Caliban, Propero\'s grotesque slave-monster

Story Overveiw

A great tempest arose that drove a certain
ship, bound to Naples from Tunis, off its course and onto an uncharted
island. The storm had been magically called up by Prospero, one of the
two human inhabitants of the island, in order to bring the vessel to shore.

Prospero had once been the mighty Duke
of Milan, and had reigned justly. But he had grown so absorbed in his intellectual
pursuits - most o them relating to the supernatural - that he turned over
the tedious reins of government to his "trusted" brother Antonio, freeing
himself to devote his time to the library and the studies he loved. But,
sadly, his ambitious brother, taking advantage of Prospero\'s naivete, usurped
his power - a plan he was only able to carry out with the help of Alonso,
the King of Naples and sworn enemy of Milan. Antonio and Alonso cruelly
captured Prospero and his infant daughter Miranda, and set them adrift
at sea in a small, rotting craft. They would have been drowned - Antonio\'s
wish had not a counselor on the ship, Gonzalo, provided them with food
and drink, and with those volumes from Prospero\'s collection that contained
his magic spells.

When Prospero and Miranda washed ashore
on their remote island, they found two rather unusual inhabitants. The
first was a fairy spirit named Ariel, who had been imprisoned within a
tree by her former master, a witch named Sycorax. Prospero freed Ariel
from the tree and thus became her new master.

The other creature, Caliban, son of Sycorax,
was a lumbering, deformed, half-savage figure. He hated Prospero - and
everyone and everything else, for that matter - but was also forced to
acknowledge him as master. For twelve years Prospero had kindly ruled over
the other three islanders, all the while practicing a form of benevolent

Why, then, did Prospero incite the elements
to cause this ship to be tossed aground on his island? Because he knew,
as it turned out, that the ship bore the very people who had usurped him
ofhispowersomaiiyyearsbefore Antonio, Alonso, and their courtiers. The
kind, wise Gonzalo was also aboard, along with Ferdinand, Alonso\'s honorable
son. Prospero\'s plan was to magically scatter the passengers about the
island in three groups, put them through a series of trials and adventures
by which the bad would be chastised and the good rewarded, and then bring
them all together to make peace once and for all.

Alonso, together with Antonio, Sebastian,

Gonzalo, and others, found themselves together on the beach. They were
astonished to discover that not only had they survived the shipwreck, but
that their clothes were clean, dry and pressed (one of Prospero\'s many
bits of magic). However, Alonso did not see Ferdinand among the survivors,
and supposing his son had drowned, cried out in grief. Still the good-hearted
counselor, old Gonzalo tried to cheer the distraught Alonso, but Sebastian
joined Antonio in mocking his efforts at optimism.

At this time, the invisible Ariel came
on the scene. By playing her tilting music she caused a deep sleep to come
upon everyone except Sebastian and Antonio. The situation prompted Antonio
to tempt Sebastian with a proposition: , My strong imagination sees a crown
dropping upon thy head," he began. He went on to say, in effect, "You remember
how simple it was for me to seize the entire rule of Milan by overthrowing
my brother? Well, by killing your brother Alonso as he sleeps, you could
become King of Naples. No one would ever know how you ascended to the thronc."

Sebastian succumbed to the temptation, and was just about to strike off
his brother\'s head when Ariel awakened the company. Antonio\'s plot had
been frustrated.

As the men tramped awkwardly around the
island in hopes of finding Ferdinand alive, Sebastian and Antonio looked
forward to a second opportunity to murder Alonso. But suddenly the group
was beset by a miraculous vision, sent by Prospero: a numerous troupe of
fairies and sprites, dancing about a table laden with rich foods. The hungry
company, invited to eat, was just about to partake, when suddenly lightning
, struck and thunder rolled; Ariel appeared in the form of a Harpy (a greedy
monster, part woman and part bird). As