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Act 2, Scene 1 Notes from The Tempest

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The Tempest Act 2, Scene 1

On another part of the island, Alonso, his brother Sebastian, the Duke Antonio, Gonzalo the councillor and Lords Adrian and Francisco enter the stage. Gonzalo is in the process of comforting the king by pointing out to him how lucky he is to have survived. Antonio and Sebastian are making fun of the exchange between the King and his councillor. The group begins to discuss the nature of the island, remarking that it is very green and wild. Gonzalo continues to sing the praises of the isle while the rest of the group pokes fun at him, with the he exception of the grieving King. They discuss the event in Carthage from which they are traveling home: the marriage of the King's daughter to the King of Tunis:

"ADRIAN: Tunis was never graced before with such a paragon
to their queen.
GONZALO: Not since widow Dido's time.
ANTONIO: Widow? A pox o' that. How came that widow in?
Widow Dido!"
Act 2, Scene 1, lines 72 - 74.

They continue to make a game of the mythical Dido (who is also from Virgil's Aeneid) and debate humorously over whether or not Tunis and Carthage are one and the same. Gonzalo speaks to the King, trying to cheer him up, asking if his "doublet is as fresh as the first day I wore it?" Act 2, Scene 1, lines 100 - 101. Alonso laments, wishing that he had never gone to Carthage because he has lost his son and heir, Ferdinand. Francisco tells the king that his son might still be alive, because he saw him swimming in the wake of the wreck. Sebastian reminds the King that everyone had advised him against the marriage. Gonzalo attacks Sebastian's forwardness:

"My lord Sebastian,
The truth you speak doth lack some gentleness,
And time to speak it in - you rub the sore
When you should bring the plaster."
Act 1, Scene 2, lines 134 - 136.

Topic Tracking: Authority 5

Gonzalo tells Sebastian that he is making the situation worse. He then tells the King what he would do if the island were his as a colony. During this speech Antonio and Sebastian continue to make fun of him on the side of the stage as he speaks in the center, saying that he would plant weeds in place of other crops. Gonzalo describes the island as a paradise without laws and without a social hierarchy, where everything would be innocent and pure. The other two continue to ridicule him:

"SEBASTIAN: Yet he would be king on't.
ANTONIO: The latter end of the commonwealth forgets the
beginning.
GONZALO: All things in common nature should produce
Without sweat or endeavour."
Act 2, Scene 1, lines 153 - 157.

Gonzalo describes a utopia free of marriage and crimes, where he would rule with perfection. Alonso asks him to be quiet. The others continue to laugh at him. Ariel enters from the wings playing music. He is invisible to the characters but not to the audience. Everyone falls asleep except for Alonso, Sebastian and Antonio. Alonso wishes to sleep and the other two promise to guard him while he sleeps. Ariel exits and the pair discuss the odd sleep that has come over their comrades. Antonio alludes to a plan and Sebastian begs him to speak it. Antonio says of the King's son that " 'Tis as impossible that he's undrowned/ as he that sleeps here swims." Act 2, Scene 1, lines 234 - 236. The two agree that the prince must be dead and realize that the next heir to Naples is Alonso's daughter, the new Queen of Tunis. Antonio points out that there is a long distance between Tunis and Naples, proposing that she would not be able to rule the kingdom if the King were seized by death instead of sleep:

"As this Gonzalo; I myself could make
A chough of as deep chat. O, that you bore
The mind that I do, what a sleep were this
For your advancement! Do you understand me?"
Act 2, Scene 1, lines 263 - 266.

Antonio implies that Sebastian should kill his brother and become king himself. Sebastian points out that that is the same thing he did to his brother (Prospero) asking if he has a guilty conscience. Sebastian says that he is not at all guilt-ridden. Sebastian says that his example will be his own precedent. They draw swords. Ariel returns from the wings and awakens Gonzalo to tell him of the plot. Gonzalo yells to the others and they all awaken. Antonio claims they were drawing swords against the sound of some animals. Gonzalo says that he also hears a sound and they all exit the stage with swords drawn, searching for Ferdinand. The curtain falls and the stage is reset.

Topic Tracking: Authority 6
Topic Tracking: Old World/New World 3
Topic Tracking: Dramatic Irony 2

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