Act 1, Scene 2 Notes from The Tempest

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The Tempest Act 1, Scene 2

In an island hut, Prospero, brother of Antonio and the rightful duke of Milan, is speaking with his daughter, Miranda. She asks Prospero to calm the sea, if he has, by any means, stirred up the storm in which she watched the ship perish. Prospero tells his daughter to be calm, because no harm has come to its passengers. He reminds her that everything has been done for her. Prospero decides that now is the time to inform his daughter of what he has been hiding since they came to the island. He asks "Canst thou remember/ A time before we came unto this cell?" Act 1, Scene 2, lines 38 - 39. Miranda says that she remembers her life before the island as if it were a dream. He tells her that they have been on the island for twelve years and that he was once the Duke of Milan. She asks what events transpired to bring them to the island, and he relays the tale. He had become entrenched in studies of the secret arts and put his brother in control of the affairs of state. Once his brother learned how to manage the state and Prospero himself had been detached from worldly affairs, a change took place:

"...in my false brother
awakened an evil nature, and my trust,
like a good parent, did beget of him
A falsehood in its contrary as great
As my trust was, which had, indeed, no limit,
A confidence sans bound..."
Act 1, Scene 2, lines 91 - 96.

For Prospero, his "Library/ /Was dukedom large enough" Act 1, Scene 2, lines 109 - 110, but his brother thought him to be incapable of ruling. His brother made an alliance with the King of Naples. Miranda remarks that "good wombs have borne bad sons." Act 1, Scene 2, line 120. With the support of the King of Naples, his brother raised an army and expelled him from the dukedom with his daughter. A few sympathetic ministers helped the fallen duke and his child to a boat, which carried them to the island. The pair were furnished with food, clothing and Prospero's books by the good councillor, Gonzalo. Miranda exclaims "Would I might/ But ever see that man!" Act 1, Scene 2, lines 168 - 169. She then asks her father why he has raised the storm and he tells her that by chance his enemies have come near the island and he has shipwrecked them to get his revenge. He uses his magic to make Miranda go to sleep and he calls his spirit servant Ariel to him. Ariel enters from the wings. He reports that he has accomplished everything which his master bid him. He caused the storm and then the ship-wreck. He relays that the King's son, Ferdinand leapt up and shouted: "Hell is empty/ And all the devils are here" Act 1, Scene 2, lines 213 - 214. Ariel also tells Prospero that no one was wounded and that the ship itself is safe, its mariners sleeping. Prospero prepares to order more, but Ariel reminds him that he has been promised his freedom:

"...I prithee,
Remember I have done thee worthy service,
Told thee no lies, made no mistakes, served
Without or grudge or grumblings. Thou did promise
To bate me a full year."
Act 1, Scene 2, lines 246 - 250.

Topic Tracking: Authority 2
Topic Tracking: Old World/New World 1
Topic Tracking: Dramatic Irony 1

Prospero reminds him that he freed him from his cell, in which he had been placed by Sycorax, the former ruler of the island. Prospero asks him about her, finding out that she was born in Algiers and was a terrible sorceress who came to the island with a child, Caliban. Ariel thanks Prospero for freeing him from his imprisonment and Prospero threatens him with twelve more years of imprisonment is he complains any more. Ariel is promised freedom in two days if he completes his commands. Prospero awakens Miranda and they to visit Caliban. Caliban's hut is off to one of the sides of the stage. They rouse him from his dwelling and he curses them:

"As wicked dew as e'er my mother brushed
With raven's feather from unwholesome fen
Drop on you both! A southwest blow on ye
And blister you all o'er!"
Act 1, Scene 2, lines 321 - 324.

Prospero tells him that he will receive stomach pains for such a curse. Caliban says that the island is rightfully his, but they took it from him and taught him "To name the bigger light and how the less" Act 1, Scene 2, line 335 (the bigger light is the sun and the lesser the moon). Because of this, he taught them the secrets of the island: where to find food and shelter. Prospero assails him because he sought to " violate/ The honour of my child." Act 1, Scene 2, lines 346 - 347. Caliban admits to the attempted rape charge, that he would have populated the island with his offspring. Miranda berates him, asserting that they gave him the gift of language. Caliban responds:

"You taught me language, and my profit on't
Is, I know how to curse. The red plague rid you
For learning me your language!"
Act 1, Scene 2, lines 362 - 364.

Topic Tracking: Authority 3
Topic Tracking: Old World/New World 2

Prospero threatens him anew and Caliban capitulates, admitting his inferior strength. Ariel reenters the stage, in the guise of a sea-nymph, leading Ferdinand. Ferdinand who follows the sound of Ariel's song, believing his father and compatriots to be dead. Miranda thinks that Ferdinand is a spirit, but her father corrects her. Ferdinand comes to Miranda and marvels that she is a human. Miranda and Ferdinand stare at each other. Miranda remarks that Ferdinand is the third man she has ever seen and the young prince swears he will make her the Queen of Naples, if she is a virgin. When Prospero alleges that Ferdinand has come to the island as a spy, Miranda exclaims at her father's accusation:

"There's nothing ill can dwell in such a temple.
If the ill spirit have so fair a house,
Good things will strive to dwell with't."
Act 1, Scene 2, lines 458 - 460.

Prospero calls him a traitor and threatens torture while Miranda pleads on his behalf. Prospero is pleased with this, because he plans to use the youths' affection towards his own ends.. Ferdinand submits to Prospero, continuing to praise his daughter:

"Might I but through my prison once a day
behold this maid. All corners else o' the' earth
Let liberty make use of; -space enough
Have I in such a prison."
Act 1, Scene 2, lines 491 - 494.

Miranda tries to comfort Ferdinand as Prospero once again promises Ariel his freedom. Everyone exits. The curtain falls, and the stage is reset.

Topic Tracking: Authority 4

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