Act IV. Scene I. - Before Prospero's Cell.
Prospero tells Ferdinand that he will no longer
punish him, but instead will freely give his daughter
Miranda's hand in marriage to him. Prospero conjures
up a beautiful, mythical, illusory party to celebrate,
complete with goddesses and nymphs. Prospero instructs
Ariel to bring the shipwrecked men on the island before
him. Remembering Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo who
wish to kill him, Prospero has Ariel distract them with
clothes, Caliban failing to keep his friends from being
distracted. Prospero promises Ariel that he will soon
Prospero opens the scene, deciding that the punishments
he has dealt Ferdinand will soon be amended by his compensation,
namely his blessing for Ferdinand to marry his daughter.
Prospero: "If I have too austerely punish'd you, /
Your [Ferdinand's] compensation makes amends;" (Line
Prospero now recommends marriage wholeheartedly to
Ferdinand, making allusions to his daughter's virginity
Prospero summons Ariel and tells him to "Go bring the
rabble, / O'er whom I gave thee power, here to this
place:" (go bring over the rabble of men over whom I
gave you power to control before me), telling Ariel
to make them come quickly (Line 36). Prospero also commands
Ariel to bring forth "a corollary, / Rather than
want a spirit:" and a masque now appears (Line
Ariel does as his master bids, and the masque begins
with the Greek goddesses of Iris (the many-colored messenger
of the Gods), Ceres (the goddess of wheat, rye, barley
and Juno (highest queen of state ) all arriving.
When Ceres asks Iris why she has been summoned, Iris
explains that it is for "A contract of true love to
celebrate, / And some donation freely to estate / On
the bless'd lovers" (Line 84).
Ceres is concerned as to whether Venus "or her
son," shall be joining them. She explains that
earlier Venus and her son had plotted against her (Lines
Iris assures Ceres not to worry; they are away on more
urgent business, namely a troubled Mars (Lines 92-100).
Juno arrives and blesses the happy couple with song,
Ceres doing the same (Lines 106-117). Amazed by what
he sees, Ferdinand questions Prospero as to whether
this "most majestic vision," can be described as "spirits?"
Prospero explains the goddesses and visions as "Spirits,
which by mine art I have from their confines call'd
to enact / My present fancies" (Spirits that I have
brought here with my magic to serve my present wishes
or fancies), (Line 120).
Nymphs now enter on Iris' urging to "help to celebrate
/ A contract of true love:" (Line 132). Reapers join
the Nymphs in graceful dance.
Prospero, however now remembers something; the threesome
of Stephano, Caliban and Trinculo who want to kill him.
He curtly ends the presence of the spirits (Line 142),
and Ferdinand wonders about Prospero's change of mood.
Prospero tells Ferdinand to enjoy himself and not to
worry for him (Lines 145-162).
Prospero summons Ariel, telling him that they must
now prepare to meet with Caliban. Ariel brings Prospero
up to speed with the threesome's progress. He explains
to Prospero that he led them by tubor through thorns,
which hurt their "frail shins:" (Line 181).
When Ariel finally left them, they were up to their
chins in the "filthy-mantled pool" (a swamp) beyond
Prospero's cell (Line 182). Prospero now explains that
he will deal out justice, saying that "I will plague
them all, / Even to roaring [screaming / shouting]"
On Prospero's command, Ariel entices the three would-be
assassins out of the pond. Ariel, who is still invisible,
does this with an array of "glistering apparel," (shiny,
flashy clothes) which he hangs on a line beyond the
The three men are not fairing well, stuck in the pond
which smells of "horse-piss;" (Line 200).
Even worse for Trinculo and Stephano, they have lost
their "bottles in the pool,-" and so are now
without alcohol (Lines 209-210).
Now outside the mouth of Prospero's surprisingly quiet
cell, Stephano begins to have "bloody thoughts" (murderous
thoughts), (Line 221).
Stephano and Trinculo now notice the clothes beyond
the pond (Line 225) and head toward the garments, trying
Caliban is not impressed, begging Trinculo and Stephano
to ignore them since they are losing valuable time and
cannot afford to be discovered by an awake Prospero
Several spirits in the shape of hounds now appear and
the noise of hunters is heard. We see Prospero and Ariel
now, setting these hounds upon Stephano, Caliban and
Trinculo who exit in terror.
Prospero encourages his spirits not to be merciful:
"Go, charge my goblins that they grind their joints
/ With dry convulsions; shorten up their sinews / With
aged cramps, and more pinched-spotted make them / Than
pard, or cat o' mountain" (Line 261).
Ariel notes that the spirits roar and Prospero again
speaks, exclaiming that "At this hour / Lie at my mercy
all mine enemies: / Shortly shall all my labours [labors]
end, and thou [Ariel] / Shalt have the air at freedom:
for a little, / Follow, and do me service" (Line 265-end
of scene). Ariel will soon be free.