The Tempest

Type: 
Comedy
First Performed: 
1611-12
First Printed: 
1623
"

We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

"

A tempestuous storm at sea sets the stage for this play. Twelve years earlier, Prospero was betrayed by his brother Antonio with help from the King of Naples, Alonso, and his brother, Sebastian. Thanks to help from Alonso's adviser Gonzalo, Prospero and his daughter Miranda escape death. Cast off to sea with only his books, Prospero eventually lands on a nearly deserted island, inhabited only by Caligan, son of the witch Sycorax.

Once on the island, Prospero frees the powerful spirit Ariel, who was entrapped in a spell cast by Sycorax. In gratitude, Ariel promises Prospero 13 years of servitude. Prospero also takes Caliban on as his student, until he attempts to rape Prospero's daughter Miranda.

When a ship containing his brother and the other co-conspirators passes near the island, Prospero orders Ariel to create a storm that will shipwreck the trio and allow Prospero his revenge. Once on the island, the three men are separated from one another and unknowingly guided by the invisible Ariel. Alonso searches for his son, Ferdinand, who he fears was drowned. Sebastian plots to kill Alonso and seize the crown from his brother. Meanwhile, two shipmates—Stephano and Trinculo—meet young Caliban and are convinced to murder Prospero in order to rule the island.

Ferdinand and Miranda meet on the island as well, and instantly fall in love. Prospero puts many challenges to Ferdinand to make sure of his love for his daughter, and when he is convinced of Ferdinand's virtue, he hosts a wedding ceremony for the couple.

rospero then pledges that, upon completion of his mission, he will abandon magic and free Ariel. She brings the treasonous trio to Prospero who then confronts his enemies, frees Ariel, and prepares to return to Milan.