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Act 5, Scene 1 Notes from The Tempest

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The Tempest Act 5, Scene 1

The stage is reset. The curtain opens. Prospero and Ariel reenter the stage. Prospero says that his plans are coming to a climax. He asks Ariel how well the King and his followers are doing. Ariel recounts that they are distracted still by the earlier spectacle and that "If you now beheld them, your affections/ Would become tender." Act 5, Scene 1, lines 18 - 19. Prospero agrees with Ariel and continues to say that if he were a different kind of man, he would not be so forgiving of his transgressors:

"Though with their high wrongs I am struck to th' quick,
Yet with my nobler reason 'gainst my fury
Do I take part. The rarer action is
In virtue than in vengeance."
Act 5, Scene 1, lines 25 - 28.

Prospero orders Ariel to retrieve the crew. Ariel exits the stage. Meanwhile, he calls out the spirits of the island to help him, pledging that with success he will give up magic. Solemn music starts playing and Ariel enters with Alonso, Gonzalo, Sebastian, Antonio, Adrian and Francisco. Prospero speaks, though he is not seen by them. He addresses each character, the noble Gonzalo, contriving Alonso and Alonso's brother Sebastian. Prospero commands Ariel to retrieve his hat and rapier. He returns singing and Prospero dresses. He promises Ariel his freedom again. The ship is still invisible with all its crew sleeping below the deck. Ariel exits and Prospero addresses the group, "Behold, sir King,/ The wronged Duke of Milan, Prospero" Act 5, Scene 1, lines 107. He embraces Alonso and welcomes him. Alonso is amazed, but he does not quite believe that this is real. Nevertheless, he asks for forgiveness:

"I fear a madness held me. This must crave,
An if this be at all, a most strange story.
Thy dukedom I resign, and do entreat
Thou pardon me my wrongs. But how should Prospero
Be living, and be here?"
Act 5, Scene 1, lines 115 - 119.

Prospero embraces Gonzalo. Then he addresses Sebastian and Antonio as traitors. He calls his brother wicked and pledges to restore his own dukedom. Alonso asks him to tell the story of his survival on the island where he lost his own son. Prospero tells him that the loss of his son is not so grave because he, too, has lost his daughter. Alonso exclaims:

"A daughter?
O heavens, that they were living both in Naples,
The King and Queen there! That they were, I wish
My self were mudded in that oozy bed
Where my son lies. When did you lose your daughter?"
Act 5, Scene 1, lines 148 - 152.

Prospero tells him that he lost his daughter in the last tempest. He tells the group that their senses must have been altered by the storm and he reveals Ferdinand and Miranda playing chess in a curtained-off part of the stage. The two have not been aware of what has been happening on the rest of the island. Ferdinand comes forward and kneels to his father, whom he assumed was dead. Alonso exclaims in joy and Miranda is also surprised by the spectacle:

"O wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world
That has such people in't!"
Act 5, Scene 1, lines 181 - 184.

Alonso asks his son who the girl is with whom he plays. Ferdinand tells his father that she is Prospero's daughter and that he has chosen her as his wife. Alonso says that this is all right. Gonzalo asks heaven for a blessing on the couple and asks "Was Milan thrust from Milan that his issue/ Should become kings of Naples?" Act 5, Scene 1, lines 205 - 206. Alonso joins hands with the children and prays for their happiness. Ariel enters with the Master of the ship and the Boatswain. Gonzalo cries out:

"O look, sir, look, here is more of us!
I prophesied if a gallows were on land
This fellow could not drown. (To Boatswain) Now,
That swear'st grace o'erboard, not an oath on the shore?
Hast thou no mouth by land? What is the news?"
Act 5, Scene 1, lines 216 - 220.

The boatswain tells them that the ship is in fine condition. Ariel secretly tells Prospero that this is his doing. Alonso asks the Boatswain how this came to be. The boatswain recounts the events of the storm: they were all below deck thrashing about and suddenly they awoke to a clear sky and an ordered ship. Alonso is in disbelief. He questions Prospero, but Prospero admonishes him to not worry about it:

"Sir, my liege,
Do not infest your mind with beating on
The strangeness of this business. At picked leisure,
Which shall be shortly single, I'll resolve you,
Which to you shall seem probable, of every
These happened accidents; till then, be cheerful
And think of each thing well."
Act 5, Scene 1, lines 245 - 251

Prospero tells Ariel to set Caliban and the conspirators free. Ariel exits. The three enter the stage in their new found raiment. Sebastian and Antonio laugh at the scene and ask who these men are. Prospero explained that two of the men are from their ship. Alonso recognizes Stephano as his drunken butler. They poke fun at the trio and Prospero sends them away granting Caliban a pardon. Caliban accepts graciously:

"Ay, that I will; and I'll be wise hereafter,
And seek for grace. What a thrice-double ass
Was I to take this drunkard for a god,
And worship this dull fool!"
Act 5, Scene 1, lines 293 - 296

Prospero invites everyone back to his lodge for the night. He plans to leave in the morning and hold the wedding in Naples. He promises safe winds on the voyage home and tells Ariel that this is his last command. Prospero ends the play with his monologue. He says that his magic is over since he has his dukedom back. He asks for a soft wind to take him home and end his years of exile. The curtain falls on the final scene of the play.

Topic Tracking: Authority 12
Topic Tracking: Old World/New World 8

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