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The Tempest Commentary - Act II.

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Act II. Scene I. - Another Part of the Island.

The rest of the shipwreck survivors wake up on the island. They are surprised that their clothes smell and feel as fresh as if they had just been bought at a market... Ariel's song puts them all to sleep again except for Sebastian and Antonio. Antonio who replaced his brother Prospero as Duke of Milan, manipulates Sebastian, King Alonso's brother into doing the same by replacing King Alonso. The two are about to kill Alonso in his sleep but Ariel wakes everyone up and the two men make an excuse for drawing their swords out.

Alonso, Sebastian, Antonio, Adrian, Francisco and Gonzalo, who have all survived the shipwreck, now ponder their position on the island (Lines 1-64).

Gonzalo remarks on how odd it is that their clothes should be "new-dyed" (freshly dyed or colored) in appearance rather than stained with salt from their shipwreck (Line 64-68). We learn from Gonzalo that Alonso and company were returning from Africa, where they attended the marriage of the "king's [Alonso's] fair daughter Claribel to the King of Tunis" (Line 70).

Gonzalo repeats his fresh clothes observation to Alonso (Line 100), but Alonso has more pressing fears. He believes that he has lost his son Ferdinand forever (Lines 113-119). Francisco tries to offer hope, saying that he is sure he saw Ferdinand escape the ship alive (Lines 120-129).

Alonso however, is convinced that he has lost his son, and asks his subjects now for, "Prithee, peace" (quiet), (Line 134). Sebastian adds that it is the King's fault he lost his son, since the voyage to Africa was advised against "By all of us;" (by all of us), (Line 136).

Gonzalo scolds Sebastian for this thinking and then daydreams about what he would do with his new island home as a part of a commonwealth (Line 154). This earns Gonzalo the mockery of both Antonio and Sebastian (Lines 143-192).

Ariel now enters, invisible and playing solemn music. This music has a powerful effect on our survivors; they each fall asleep except for Antonio and Sebastian (Lines 192-210).

Now alone, Antonio begins to convince Sebastian to kill his brother, The King of Naples (Alonso), by telling him that "My strong imagination sees a crown / Dropping upon thy head" (my strong imagination sees the crown of your father, King Alonso falling on your head. I can see you replacing your brother as king), (Line 216).

Sebastian is at first reluctant to accept this but is gradually convinced by Antonio's guarantees that the King's men will follow him. Antonio further points out that he has experience in this; he did after all, replace his brother Prospero by similar means and was successful.

Drawing their swords to kill Alonso in his sleep, Ariel reappears and with a song in Gonzalo's ear awakens him, Gonzalo's shouting then waking the King (Lines 308-316). Alonso and then Gonzalo ask why Sebastian and Antonio have their swords drawn (Lines 320-332).

Sebastian explains that they heard "a hollow burst of bellowing / Like bulls, or rather lions;" (We heard noises like bulls or lions and so we drew our swords out as protection), (Line 320). This appears to convince all present. Ariel departs, pledging to tell Prospero of his deed and telling Alonso to "go safely on to seek thy son" (go safely on to look for your son, Ferdinand), (End of scene).

Act II. Scene II. - Another Part of the Island.

Trinculo, a jester on the ship, discovers Caliban and quickly realizes that such a beast would earn him a fortune as a novelty in England. 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 set off together...

Caliban enters our view, carrying a heavy burden of wood. Caliban is cursing his master Prospero. Trinculo now appears. Caliban seeing this jester, assumes that he must be a spirit: "Here comes a spirit of his [Prospero], and to torment me / For bringing wood in slowly:" (here comes another one of Prospero's spirits to torment me for bringing the wood in too slowly), he says, deciding to lie flat on the ground to hopefully avoid it's attention (Line 15).

Trinculo, dressed in his jester costume fears the elements. He has a solution, and decides to hide his head under Caliban's large frame. Not sure whether Caliban is man or fish, such is his smell, Trinculo nonetheless uses Caliban as shelter. Furthermore, he believes that should Caliban be a fish, he would earn Trinculo a good living back in England as a novelty.

Stephano now arrives, singing, bottle in hand. Caliban again believes this man to be a spirit telling Stephano to leave him alone. "Do not torment me:" he Caliban cries (Line 59).

The sight of Caliban amazes Stephano. At first he believes this monster to have four legs and two heads but later realizes it is just his friend Trinculo crawling under the frame of Caliban. Probing Caliban, Stephano like Trinculo, realizes that Caliban would be worth a fortune back in England as a "monster of the isle with four legs," (Line 69). Caliban, however is not enjoying any of this, telling Stephano to leave him alone.

Discovering Caliban's head, Stephano pours his alcohol into Caliban's mouth (Lines 87-127). Stephano now discovers his friend Trinculo under Caliban's frame.

The alcohol however has affected Caliban profoundly. Spellbound by what he believes is a celestial drink, Caliban renounces (rejects) Prospero, and pledges his loyalty to Stephano whom he believes has fallen from heaven and will be powerful enough to free him from Prospero. Caliban will fish for his new leader, find wood and pick berries (Lines 172-180). Stephano now decides that with the King and all his followers likely drowned, he will inherit this island. Together they follow Caliban, newly united as three.

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