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The Tempest Commentary - Act III.

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Act III. Scene I. - Before Prospero's Cell.

Miranda: "Do you love me?"

Prospero who is now invisible to Ferdinand and Miranda, witnesses Ferdinand and Miranda expressing their deep love for one another in words that rival Romeo and Juliet in their tenderness. Ferdinand, realizing that he is witnessing a truly rare meeting of hearts, approves of Ferdinand for his daughter. The scene ends with Ferdinand taking Miranda for his wife. Prospero is pleased but must now leave to attend to matters before supper...

Ferdinand is lifting logs for Prospero. This doesn't bother him unduly, because, as Ferdinand puts it, his labors will lead to richer ends, namely the heart of Miranda: "There be some sports are painful, and their labour / Delight in them sets off: some kinds of baseness / Are nobly undergone, and most poor matters / Point to rich ends" Ferdinand remarks (Line 1).

Ferdinand knows his work is hard, but the thought of Miranda gives him strength: "This my mean task / Would be as heavy to me as odious; but / The mistress [Miranda] which I serve quickens what's dead / And makes my labours pleasures: O! she is / Ten times more gentle than her father's crabbed, / And he's composed of harshness" (Line 4).

Ferdinand is aware that the sight of Miranda's love (Ferdinand) working so hard saddens Miranda (Line 10-12), but his thoughts of Miranda inspire him to go on: "But these sweet thoughts do even refresh my labours," (Line 14).

Miranda enters, oblivious to the invisible Prospero behind her. She asks Ferdinand not to work so hard, telling Ferdinand that "My father / Is hard at study;" asking him to "pray now, rest yourself:" since Prospero will be away for at least three hours (Lines 19-20).

Miranda tells Ferdinand to sit down, she will "bear" or carry his logs for a while. Ferdinand, ever the noble gentleman, refuses Miranda's kind offer, telling her "No, precious creature: / I had rather crack my sinews, break my back, / Than you should such dishonour undergo, / While I sit lazy by" (no precious creature, I would rather break my back than see you dishonored by carrying logs while I sit idly by), (Line 26).

Miranda decides to try again, and Prospero who is nearby but because of his magic cloak is invisible, realizes that Miranda must be in love (Line 30-31).

Ferdinand now asks for Miranda's name so that he may use it in his prayers. Miranda answers with her name, immediately realizing that she has a broken a "hest" (promise or command) to her father in doing so (Line 37).

Ferdinand now speaks of his deep admiration for Miranda, telling her that she is "worth / What's dearest to the world!" (Line 39). Ferdinand has seen many fair ladies in his time, but all had some defect in his opinion (Line 44). Miranda, however is someone completely unique. She is "So perfect and so peerless," (so perfect and without equal), that she is clearly created "Of every creature's best" (clearly made from the best of every creature) (Line 47).

Miranda explains to Ferdinand that she remembers no women's face but her own, nor has she seen "More that I may call men than you, good friend, / And my dear father:" (more men than you, good friend and my father), (Line 51). Nonetheless Miranda tells Ferdinand that she "would not wish / Any companion in the world but you;" (would want no companion other than you, Ferdinand), nor could she imagine any better shape (Line 55).

Ferdinand now explains to Miranda that, "The very instant that I saw you did / My heart fly to your service; there resides, / To make me slave to it; and for your sake / Am I this patient log-man" (the very instant I saw you, my heart flew into your service, and it stays there making me a slave to it, and it is for you that I patiently have become a logman to be close to you), (Line 64).

Miranda now sweetly asks Ferdinand, "Do you love me?" (Line 67).

Ferdinand is almost ashamed that he is even being asked... "O! heaven! O earth! bear witness to this sound," he says for as he explains to Miranda, "I, / Beyond all limit of what else i' the world, / Do love, prize, honour you" (I, beyond all limit of what else is in the world, love, prize and honor you), (Line 72).

Miranda replies that, "I am a fool / To weep at what I am glad of" (I am a fool to weep at what makes me happy), (Line 74).

Prospero too is pleased, describing this courtship in an aside (private speech) as a "Fair encounter / Of two most rare affections!" (a fair and good joining of two most rare loves) whilst adding "Heavens rain grace / On that which breeds between 'em!" (Heaven rain grace on that which breeds or grows between them), (Line 75).

Miranda now weeps at her unworthiness of Ferdinand.

Ferdinand will have none of it, telling her that she will always make him humble, so lucky does he feel to be loved by her (Line 87).

Ferdinand and Miranda continue to trade deep affections for each other and Miranda explains that should Ferdinand not accept her as his wife, she will nonetheless forever be his servant "Whether you will or no" (whether you will it or not), (Line 85).

Ferdinand naturally takes Miranda as his wife with all his willing heart.

Prospero, a silent, invisible witness to all of this, approves. He must however, leave for before "supper time," since he has much business to do.

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

Bottle in hand, Stephano, Trinculo and Caliban continue on their merry way. Stephano starts getting delusions of grandeur, which Caliban blindly follows. Trinculo thinks Caliban is being foolish to follow Stephano so blindly. Caliban suggests several gruesome ways to kill Prospero. Ariel lures the group away with his entrancing sounds...

Meanwhile, some distance away on the island, Stephano, Caliban and Trinculo proceed on their way together about the island. They are not aided by their increasingly drunken stupor. Stephano is increasingly seeing himself in a grandiose light, aided by Caliban's blind devotion of him. Trinculo is not at all impressed by this, deriding both Caliban and Stephano and Caliban now sick of being insulted by Trinculo, demands that something be done.

Stephano, not willing to lose his loyal monster, tells Trinculo to "keep a good tongue" in his head, and not to offend Caliban nor himself (Line 41).

Ariel, who is invisible, now enters and causes dissension (trouble) in the ranks. When Caliban explains that he is "a subject of a tyrant" (is ruled over by a tyrant, Prospero), Ariel defends Prospero, telling Caliban that, "Thou liest" (you lie), (Line 52). Further comments by Ariel, which mimic Trinculo's voice earn Trinculo a beating (Lines 58-86).

Caliban who has successfully convinced (Lines 44-69) Stephano to kill Prospero and take over the island, now outlines his plan to kill Prospero whilst he is asleep, noting his timetable and the importance of first taking away Prospero's books, the source of his magic. Caliban also makes his attraction for Miranda whom we know he attempted to molest, quite clear (Lines 112-116). Caliban also suggests several grotesque ways of killing his hated master (Prospero), (Lines 100-114).

Stephano now decides that he will become both "king and queen,-" of this island and will kill both Prospero and Miranda. Stephano and Trinculo put their earlier disagreements behind them (Lines 117-124).

Stephano on Caliban's request starts to sing.

Ariel plays a tune now on tabor and pipe (noticed by Stephano, Line 136) and is almost caught out, but Caliban explains that "the isle is full of noises, / Sounds and sweet airs," (this isle or island is full of deceptive, entrancing sounds and smells), (Line 148) and that they should not be alarmed (Lines 147-154).

The murderous threesome now continue on their way.

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

Sebastian: "Now I will believe / That there are unicorns; that in Arabia / There is one tree...."

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 (the King of Naples), Antonio and Sebastian for their roles in exiling Prospero, Ariel's master...

Alonso, Sebastian, Antonio, Gonzalo, Adrian, Francisco and others are exhausted from walking the maze that is the island. At Gonzalo's suggestion, they choose to rest (Line 1).

Strange and solemn music is heard. Prospero emerges from above, completely invisible. Various strange shapes appear, "bringing in a banquet: they dance about it with gentle actions of salutation; and, inviting the King, &c., [and company] to eat, they depart."

Sebastian amazed by what he sees, exclaims that "Now I will believe / That there are unicorns; that in Arabia / There is one tree," (now I believe that unicorns exist and that there is just one tree in all of Arabia), (Line 21).

Antonio agrees and Gonzalo wonders if anyone would believe this story back in Naples (Line 28).

Prospero now dismisses the strange shapes (Line 39). Sebastian does not mind since "They have left their viands behind;" and the court now very hungry can eat what is left (Lines 40-42).

Ariel enters amid thunder and lightning. Clapping his wings upon the table, Ariel uses "a quaint devise" to make the banquet disappear.

Now that the banquet has been removed, Ariel who can be heard, begins to bring to account all those who crossed his master Prospero twelve years ago. Specifically, Ariel singles out three men who are most responsible for Prospero's exile, namely Antonio, Prospero's traitorous brother, Alonso, the King of Naples and Sebastian.

Ariel describes the three men as "three men of sin," (Line 53). Alonso and Sebastian draw out their swords on Ariel only to be called "fools!" by Ariel (Line 60). Antonio is guilty for having abused his brothers trust, the King of Naples for recognizing Antonio's new rule of Milan in exchange for an annual tribute (money) and Sebastian for plotting to kill the King of Naples (Alonso) with Antonio.

Prospero is pleased with Ariel's work and especially that all three men heard Ariel's judgment of them. This affects each man differently. Alonso now finds his conscience, telling Gonzalo how the winds spoke to him and exits (Lines 98-102).

Sebastian and Antonio, not regretting their deeds follow, leaving Gonzalo to comment on the three men's great guilt. Adrian, on Gonzalo's command follows the three men to prevent them coming to strife or injuring themselves.

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