The Tempest Act 4, Scene 1
The stage is set with Prospero's hut as the curtain opens. Prospero, Miranda and Ferdinand enter. Prospero is in the process of apologizing to Ferdinand for having put him through such tasks. He tells him that as compensation he will allow the marriage between the youths:
"...All thy vexations
Were but my trials of thy love, and thou
Hast strangely stood the test. Here, afore heaven
I ratify this my rich gift. O Ferdinand,
Do not smile at me that I boast of her,
For thou shalt find that she will outstrip all praise
And make it halt behind her." Act 4, Scene 1, lines 6 - 10.
Ferdinand agrees with his father-in-law to be who threatens that he must not sleep with her before they are married. He swears an oath to Prospero and then Ariel appears from off stage. Prospero commands Ariel to "Bestow upon the eyes of this young couple/ Some vanity of mine art." Act 4, Scene 1, line 41. Ariel exits the stage to gather some of his fellow spirits. Prospero turns to Ferdinand and asks for a stronger vow. Ferdinand swears again and Prospero recalls Ariel. What follows is a scene played out by the spirits where they take on the roles of classical deities to bless the marriage. A spirit called Iris enters the stage. In her speech she announces the arrivals and the attributes of Ceres and Juno. Ceres asks Iris why she has been summoned and Iris says there is "a contract of true love to celebrate" Act 4, Scene 1, line 93. Ceres asks if Venus or Cupid are now with Juno, and Iris says that they are not. Juno is the goddess representing marriage itself and subsequent childbirth, while Venus and her son Cupid represent lust. Juno arrives and speaks:
"How does my bounteous sister? Go with me
To bless this twain, that they may prosperous be,
And honoured in their issue." Act 4, Scene 1, line 104 - 106.
Juno sings for the blessing of their children and Ceres sings for the fruitfulness of their lands and the abundance of food. Ferdinand observes and is awe-struck, saying "Let me live here forever/ So rare a wondered father and wife/ Makes this place a paradise." Act 4, Scene 1, lines 123 - 125. Iris calls out river nymphs to bless the marriage and a myriad of shapes and forms enter the stage. Suddenly, Prospero remembers that Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo are planning to kill him, so he stops the revelry. Ferdinand remarks:
"This is strange. Your father's in some passion
That works him strangely.
MIRANDA: Never till this day
Saw I him so touched with anger, so distempered." Act 4, Scene 1, lines 143 - 145.
Prospero speaks to Ferdinand, noticing his concern, and tells him not to be dismayed:
"...These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air,
And, like the baseless fabric of vision,
The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with sleep." Act 4, Scene 1, lines 148 - 158.
After this famous monologue, the two youths leave the stage and Prospero calls Ariel. Ariel asks him what he wants and he says that they need to go to Caliban. Ariel recounts that the three companions were drunk and he led them into a briar patch. Prospero sends Ariel to fetch Caliban:
"A devil, a born devil, on whose nature
Nurture can never stick; on whom my pains,
Humanely taken, all, all lost, quite lost
And as with age his body uglier grows,
So his mind cankers. I will plague them all,
Even to roaring." Act 4, Scene 1, lines 188 - 193.
Ariel exits and then reenters guiding Stephano, Caliban and Trinculo. Prospero and Ariel remain invisible to the trio, but not to the audience. They stand on the side of the stage. The two men verbally assault Caliban for having led them astray. They have lost their bottles of alcohol Stephano says that "There is not only disgrace and dishonor in that,/ monster, but an infinite loss." Act 4, Scene 1, lines 210 - 211. Caliban assuages their anger and asks them to be quiet. Ariel has draped some clothing on the tree and Trinculo takes a robe and puts it on. Caliban tells him to leave it alone because they should kill Prospero before they do anything else. Stephano tells him to quiet down and he takes an article of clothing from the tree that is in the center of the stage. The two continue to dress themselves in the royal clothing, offering some to Caliban:
"I will have none on't. We shall lose our time
And all be turned to barnacles, or to apes
With foreheads villainous low." Act 4, Scene 1, lines 248 - 250.
Caliban eventually submits to their pleas with the promise of more wine. Prospero calls out to the spirits of Mountain and Fury and racks the conspirators with pains. They run off stage. Prospero exits with Ariel and the curtain falls.