Week 12 (Spring ’21): Acts 2-3

Hi!  Your homework this week is to read Acts II-III of The Tempest, watch my videotaped lectures below, and then post a comment about the assigned reading at the bottom of this page. The speeches that I refer to in my lectures are printed below each video. At the bottom of this page, below all of the videos, I give you some simple study questions to help you formulate a post. The study questions follow up on things I say in my lectures, so you may want to watch the videos first. Leave your post in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Noteworthy speeches from Act II of The Tempest:

Gonzalo's utopian speech, 2.1.143:

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 tihngs; 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 its own kind, all foison, all abundance,
To feed my innocent people.
I would with such perfection govern, sir,
T'excel the golden age.

Caliban makes the same mistake twice, 2.2.164:

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
Young scamels from the rock.  Wilt thou go with me?

Noteworthy speeches from The Tempest, Act III:

Caliban describes the magic of the island, 3.2.134:

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.

Ariel, costumed as a harpy, confronts the wrongdoers, 3.3.53:

You are three men of sin, whom destiny--
That hath to instrument this lower world
And what is in't--the never-surfeited sea
Hath caused to belch up you, and on this island,
Where man doth not inhabit, you 'mongst men
Being most unfit to live, I have made you mad;
And even with suchlike valor men hang and drown
Their proper selves.
     [Alonso, Sebastian, etc. draw]
                     You fools: I and my fellows
Are ministers of Fate.  The elements,
Of whom your swords are tempered, may as well
Wound the loud winds, or with bemocked-at stabs
Kill the still-closing waters, as diminish
One dowl that's in my plume.  My fellow ministers
Are like invulnerable.  If you could hurt,
Your swords are now too massy for your strengths
And will not be uplifted.  But remember
(For that's my business to you) that you three
From Milan did supplant good prospero;
Exposed unto the sea, which hath requit it,
Him and his innocent child; for which foul deed
The pow'rs, delaying, not forgetting, have
Incensed the seas and shores, yea, all the creatures,
Against your peace.  Thee of thy son, Alonso,
They have bereft; and do pronounce by me
Ling'ring perdition (worse than any death
Can be at once) shall step by step attend
You and your ways; whose wraths to guard you from,
Which here, in this most desolate isle, else falls
Upon your heads, is nothing but heart's sorrow
And a clear life ensuing.

Discussion Board

Write a comment on The Tempest Acts 2-3 and post it in the comments section below.  Be sure to quote the text of the play at least once in your post.  Consider answering any of the following study questions:

1.) Stephano and Trinculo are the comic relief in this play — low-class characters who speak poorly and bumble around. But, having read other Shakespeare plays, you know to expect low-class subplots (such as Lancelot Gobbo’s in Merchant) to be thematically relevant to the upper-class main plots. So what thematic connections can you draw between the Stephano-Trinculo subplot and the Prospero-Antonio-Alonso-Caliban-etc. main plot?

2.) As you all know by now, every Shakespearean play revolves around some event that happens in the middle and that divides the plot into a “before” and and “after.” Before that moment, all of the play’s conflicts are developing, and new characters and themes are being introduced. After that moment, the play’s conflicts begin to get resolved, dynamic characters show us their transformed selves, and already-introduced themes play out. In The Tempest, the pivotal moment is Miranda’s acceptance of Ferdinand’s marriage proposal in 3.1. Why do you think this is such an important moment? After all, Ferdinand proposed marriage to Miranda when he first met her in Act 1, so in that regard 3.1 brings nothing new. What *does* 3.1 add to the Ferdinand-Miranda plot line that is new? And why should the Ferdinand-Miranda plot line be privileged as the pivotal one, given that Prospero and his conflicts get most of the play’s overall attention?

3.) How do you imagine the masque in Act 3 being performed? Why?

22 thoughts on “Week 12 (Spring ’21): Acts 2-3”

  1. #2. In my opinion, I think that the engagement of Ferdinand and Miranda is such an important moment in the play because it is what Prospero wants. Miranda is Prospero’s whole world, and he wants to control it. I feel that this is significant because the reason why Caliban is a slave to Prospero is because he took interest in Miranda and apparently tried to rape her. Now, a different man of higher class takes interest in Miranda and Prospero allows him to propose. Also, act 3, scene 1 adds something significant to the plot line. Miranda has always been very obedient and innocent. But, she doesn’t listen to her father and goes to talk to Ferdinand anyway. This shows that Miranda is growing as a character and is starting to develop different characteristics and feelings towards her father. I know that Shakespeare aimed for this play to be a comedy, but it is more of a romance so I also feel that this scene is significant because it builds on the plot of love and romance.

  2. Despite the difference in social status, the upper-class main plots and the low-class characters do have a connection. This connection does not involve any character trait, but it does involve a person: the attempted murder of Prospero. The first assassination attempt involved Alonzo and Antonio. In Act 2, Scene 2, the reader can see that Caliban is trying to persuade Stephano and Trinculo in doing his dirty work and try and kill Prospero.

  3. Some connections that can be drawn between the Stefano-Trinculo subplot and the Prospero-Antonio-Caliban plot are that when Caliban meets Stefano and Trinculo, they make him drink the alcohol that they have, which leads Caliban to believe that Stefano is some kind of sorcerer, since he has never had alcohol before, and therefore a threat to Prospero. Caliban then convinces Stefano and Trinculo that Prospero needs to be killed. “I say by sorcery he got this isle; / From me he got it. If thy Greatness will, / Revenge it on him, for I know thou dar’st, / But this thing dare not” (Act III, Scene 2, Lines 59-62). Caliban is saying here how Prospero took the island from him when he showed up and how he wants to seek revenge on him, and since Caliban believes that Stefano is a threat to Prospero, he thinks it will be a good idea for Stefano to kill Prospero. Stefano agrees to this plan and they plot to kill Prospero in his sleep.

  4. Shakespeare’s romantic play, The Tempest, hits its turning point when Miranda accepts Ferdinand’s marriage proposal. This is a pivotal moment in the play because both Miranda and Ferdinand have passed Shakespeare’s love test. Miranda disobeyed her father to see and speak to Ferdinand. When Ferdinand asks for her name Miranda replies, “Miranda.—O my father, I have broke your hest to say so!” (3.1.45-46). Miranda exclaims she broke her fathers orders proving she is worthy of true love. On the other hand, Ferdinand is doing manual labor like a servant for Prospero to win his favor. The disregard of his social status proves him worthy of love as well. The development of both Miranda and Ferdinand is what makes the turning point impactful. This is also important to Prospero’s plot because Miranda is now a princess and she is also an heir to the throne. With his daughter being of high status, Prospero may hold the upper hand in regaining his power against Alonso, Antonio, and Sebastian.

  5. In Act 3, Scene 1, Ferdinand proposes to Miranda for the second time and she accepts. This is a pivotal moment because although this is not the first time Ferdinand has asked Miranda to marry him, things are different because Prospero is listening in. In the past, Prospero had not accepted Ferdinand and Miranda’s love for each other and had even imprisoned Ferdinand as punishment, but now Prospero is beginning to accept Ferdinand as his future son in law. While secretly listening in, Prospero says “Poor worm, thou art infected! This visitation shows it… Fair encounter Of two more rare affections! Heaven rain grace On that which breeds between ‘em!”

  6. As I understand it, Stephano and Trinculo are seeking power on this island with the help of Caliban. Caliban informs them of Prospero and gives them information on how to rid the island of Prospero so that Stephano can marry Miranda and take power. These low class characters seem to be exactly the same as the main characters of Caliban, Prospero, Alonso, and Antonio because they are all seeking some kind of power and control that is beyond their current means. Caliban wants power and freedom over his island and his life once more, Prospero wants more “magical” power, and Alonso and Antonio wanted more power over their kingdoms. This is why Alonso helped Antonio rid Milan of his brother and his niece. This constant fight for more has landed these characters in more trouble than it all was worth. With how the play is going, I predict that Stephano and Trinculo’s fate will be the same.

  7. Miranda confesses her love to Ferdinand, when she states, “I would not wish for any companion in the world but you…”, and then agrees to marry him later in the act (Act 3, scene 1, lines 54-55). Miranda has only ever had Caliban, Ferdinand and her father in her life, because her father decides everything she does. Ferdinand had proposed to Miranda when he first met her in Act 1, however Prospero was at first hesitant about this, he thought that Ferdinand was a spy in act 1, scene 2 and threatened to hold him on the island. In Act 3, scene 1, he makes Ferdinand work, by moving logs, which is really hard labor. Ferdinand stated, “ This my mean task would be as heavy to me as odious, but the mistress which I serve quickens what’s dead and makes my labors pleasures” (Act 3, scene 1, lines 4-7). Ferdinand shows all that he would go through to be able to marry Miranda and when Miranda accepts his marriage proposal in 3.1, it is significant, because in a way she decides to do it herself and goes against her father, but it eventually ends up pleasing him. I think this creates the pivotal plot line because although Prospero is generally a negative person, and his conflicts get most of the play’s overall attention, Miranda is important to him, and I think that he eventually is able to see the good in his daughter’s relationship with Ferdinand.

    1. When Ferdinand asks Miranda for marriage, we consider this a very important moment. We consider this important because of the dynamic of Prospero. Prospero is very aware of what is going on and is listening to what is happening. We can see that although Prospero has a history of not being supportive in their love, he is opening up more now.

  8. The upper-class and lower-class characters have an indirect connection. The connection is the attempted assassination of Prospero. The first attempt involved Alonzo and Antonio trying to murder him. Then in Act 3, Scene 2, aliban says,
    ” I say, by sorcery he got his isle;
    From me he got it: if thy greatness will
    Revenge it on him,–for I know, thou darest;
    But this thing dare not,–“.
    Caliban is convincing Stephano and Trinculo to try and kill Prospero as revenge. He then says Stephano will be king of the land.

  9. 1. Both the upper-class and lower-class characters have a hunger for power that beckons them to overthrow those who are already in the position of power. In both cases, Prospero is the one who they look to overthrow. Stephano and Trinculo both want to be the rulers of the island, which fuels their desire to kill Prospero and take his position. They forge an alliance with Caliban, who aspires to remove Prospero from power, in order to be able to find and kill Prospero. Caliban tells Stephano and Trinculo, “I say, by sorcery he got this isle; From me he got it. If thy greatness will revenge it on him,—for I know thou darest, but this thing dare not, […] Thou shalt be lord of it, and I’ll serve thee” (Act 3, Scene 2, Lines 49-54). Alternatively, Antonio had betrayed his brother Prospero by overthrowing his throne as the Duke of Milan. Antonio had forged an alliance with Alonso in order to overthrow Prospero.

  10. The relationship between Miranda and Ferdinand has grown in Act 3, Scene 1. In this scene Miranda and Ferdinand speak about their love for each other and how they are mesmerized with each other. The dialect between the two seem to be very child like because of the way Miranda is always referring to her dad, Prospero. For example, when Miranda says, “Miranda.- O my father, I have broke your hest to say so!” (Act3, Scene 1, Line 37-38). She seems super paranoid to speak to Ferdinand and anxious but yet she continues to express her feeling towards him. Ferdinand keeps engaging conversation with Miranda and expressing how she is so different than the other women including his mother.

  11. I believe the second marriage proposal between Miranda and Ferdinand is important because, not only do we see the growth of love they have for each other, but the reason Prospero seems to approve of their relationship. We know that Prospero was watching Miranda and Ferdinand while he was doing chores and during the conversation between him and Miranda, when they confessed their love for each other. It is clear that Prospero is not actually opposed to this relationship between them and that he only acted as though he was, in hopes that they would be even more drawn to each other. Prospero is more interested in maintaining his control over Miranda and by making her believe he didn’t want her to be with Ferdinand, he knew that she would be more likely to marry him.

  12. The overall relationship between Miranda and Ferdinand has grown immensely since they first met. At first they just seemed like high school sweethearts that were just falling in love to just fall in love but in this Scene they actually seem in love for real as Prospero recognizes it and is excited for them both. Prospero exclaims, “So glad of this as they I cannot be, who are surprised withal. But my rejoicing At nothing can be more. I’ll to my book, For yet ere supper-time must I perform Much business appertaining.(Act 3, Scene 1, Lines 95-99)” This shows that Prospero actually believes this to be true love and that he is happy for both of them to be getting married, therefore he approves of this marriage.

  13. Overall Miranda and Ferdinand’s relationship has grown immensely from when they first met because the love actually seems real and not just a childish relationship and even Miranda’s father Prospero approves of the marriage. Prospero exclaims, “So glad of this as they I cannot be, Who are surprised withal. But my rejoicing At nothing can be more. I’ll to my book, For yet ere supper-time must I perform Much business appertaining.(Act 3, Scene 1, Lines 95-99)” This shows that Prospero actually cares about them and believes it to be true love, he has seen a lot of growth in the short time that they have been together which makes him very happy since it is not fake or childish love.

  14. As the play goes on we see miranda and Ferdinands relationship grow. You can truly see the love between and it does not seem like a fake love that is just written in stories. Prospero approves of their relationship heavily but I kinda think it has a reason to do with him wanting control over miranda. Even though he has a history of not supporting them he supports them in getting married. I think their marriage is a huge part in this play so far.

  15. In my opinion the most pivotal moment in the tempest is when Miranda accepts Ferdinand proposal. Ferdinand does anything he can to impress his father to get on his good side. In the videos above I think its important to note that Ferdinand carries the logs in hopes to stay in good graces with Miranda’s father. I think this is a pivotal point because it shows that Ferdinand has respect for Mirandas father while at the same time Miranda is growing farther apart from her father as she starting to make decisions on her own. To recap everything Miranda confesses her love for Ferdinand when she states ““I would not wish for any companion in the world but you” Although Ferdinand tried to ask to Marry Miranda in Act 1 at this point this is when Miranda has accepted Ferdinands proposal. (Act 3, scene 1, lines 54-55).

  16. Act 3.1 is a pivotal moment in The Tempest because it allows Miranda to slowly break free from her father’s control. I understand that a father’s love for his daughter after what happened to them could be the reason he’s so protective, but I think that it is important for Miranda to break free from her fathers’ control in order for it to be a true romance play. She disobeyed her father after he forbid her from talking to Ferdinand, but I think deep down he was just trying to test them to see if Miranda truly loved Ferdinand. The marriage of Ferdinand and Miranda is also important because it allows for the possibility of Ferdinand returning to Naples with Miranda, the daughter of the rightful Duke of Milan and the truth coming out that Miranda and Prospero are still alive.

  17. Ferdinand and Miranda’s engagement is very important because Prospero allowing the engagement to happen. Prospero was there when their relationship happened, which has grown over time. Miranda’s development has changed as well since at the start I feel she will listen to Prospero but over time she went to Ferdinand even when Prospero told her not to, this causes her to create a version of herself and how she pays attention to her father. But Prospero’s approval shows that he sees this relationship as a real thing and not something fake.

  18. Miranda’s marriage proposal to Ferdinand in Act 3 Scene 1 is pivotal in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Until Act 3, it has been illustrated that Miranda acts ultimately in servitude to the adult men in the play. However, this scene draws Miranda as a much more powerful female character than readers may expect. After her alleged rape, alluded to in Act 1, we see that Miranda is easily taken advantage of by the men of The Tempest, and this theme is reinforced when we discover that Miranda essentially acts as a servant to Ferdinand. This theme is also somewhat informed by the fact that Miranda had never learned what had happened to her mother until her teenage years since Miranda is ultimately silent under her father, Prospero. This sense of servitude is created by the stark difference in social status between Ferdinand and Miranda. Miranda’s initiative taken by formally proposing to Ferdinand shows a great deal of development for Miranda, and though she once again recognizes the theme of servitude when she says “I am your wife, if you will marry me; / If not, I’ll die your maid. . . . / You may deny me; but I’ll be your servant / Whether you will or no” (III.i.83–86), she ultimately shows throughout Act 3 that she has grown into a promising mold of independence and power.

  19. 3.) Fernand and Miranda’s engagement is essential because, before the engagement, Prospero was there when the relationship first blossomed, and over time, the relationship grew. Miranda was illustrated to be an easy target for the men. But this scene shows Miranda as a strong female character.

  20. Ferdinand proposed to Miranda when he first met her but Prospero was hesitant about approving this marriage.. He thought that Ferdinand was a spy early on, and threatened to keep him on the island. ”This my mean task would be as heavy to me as odious, but the mistress which I serve quickens what’s dead and makes my laborers pleasures”(III,I,4-7) Ferdinand did everything he could to show Propero that he was as committed to marrying Miranda as anyone could ever be.
    They have only grown as a couple since they first met back in high school and their love for one another has only grown. “So glad of this as they I cannot be, who are surprised with. But my rejoicing At nothing can be more. I’ll do my book, For supper-time must I perform Much business appertaining.(Act 3, Scene 1, Lines 95-99)” Even Prosperso expresses that he also thinks that what Miranda and Firdinand share is real love, coming to the conclusion the Prospero approves their marriage and couldn’t be happier for them both.

  21. Since The Tempest deals with many themes, including magic, betrayal, revenge, and family. I especially think when Ferdinand proposed to Miranda that it helped truly show an important piece to this book. I think this is an important piece because Ferdinand was actually very serious about marrying Miranda and worked very hard to prove what he was capable of and who he wanted to love. Even though Prospero was hesitant it worked out in the end.

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