The Tempest Plot Summary
The play begins on the deck of a ship that has entered a storm. This ship is carrying Alonso, the King of Naples, Ferdinand, his son, and Antonio, the usurping Duke of Milan, from the King's daughter's marriage in Tunis. This storm has been created by the sorcerer and rightful Duke of Milan, Prospero. When the first scene ends, it is doubtful whether or not anyone has survived.
On the island, Prospero and his daughter Miranda have lived for twelve years. He has raised her in the company of their spirit slave Ariel and their servant Caliban. Prospero tells his young daughter of their expulsion from Milan at the hands of his traitor brother (Antonio). Ferdinand, having survived the wreck, is charmed by Miranda and is then controlled by Prospero, in order to be near his daughter.
The second act begins with the remaining passengers on the ship. They move about the island debating whether or not Ferdinand has survived. Gonzalo, the counselor, tries to assuage his king. Ariel, at Prospero's bidding, puts all of them to sleep except for Antonio and Alonso's brother Sebastian. Antonio convinces Sebastian to kill Alonso and take his place as king. The two draw their swords but Ariel awakens everyone else. The entire group goes off in search of Ferdinand.
Caliban is discovered by the drunk butler Stephano and the jester Trinculo. He tells them what the island is like and together they plot to kill Prospero as he sleeps. Ariel reports this plot to his master.
Ferdinand hauls wood for Prospero as Miranda watches, pitying him. The youths admit their adoration for each other and express a desire to marry. Prospero watches with approval because this is according to his plan. Meanwhile, Caliban and the two drunkards continue their plotting. Caliban tells them about Miranda's beauty and they consider her yet another reason to kill her father. They hear noises in the woods which they disregard at Caliban's bidding.
On the other part of the island, Ariel creates a spectacle for the King and his companions. Ariel enters as a harpy and alludes to their respective crimes. The men are shocked and worried for their fate. They exit with swords drawn.
Ferdinand, Miranda and Prospero reenter the stage. Prospero has Ferdinand swear an oath not to sleep with Miranda before they are married. Ariel ushers in more spirits who play the parts of deities blessing their proposed union. Prospero remembers that there is a plot afoot against his life and he ends the charade. The conspirators reenter and are distracted by royal garments hanging in a tree. Caliban tries to warn them away from the clothing, but he cannot. Prospero uses his magic to attack them and chases them off.
Prospero reenters the stage with Ariel and comes to the king and his companions. Alonso is in disbelief upon seeing Prospero alive, and Prospero forgives his brother for all of the sins against him. The penitent Alonso grants Prospero his kingdom back and rejoices when he discovers his son is still alive. He approves the marriage between Ferdinand and Miranda. Ariel reveals Alonso's ship to be in fine condition. Prospero promises to release Ariel from servitude. Caliban's plot is revealed to the king, but they all poke fun at the presumptuous trio. They all go to Prospero's lodging for the night, with plans to leave in the morning.