Drama as a Genre
Like fiction, drama features characters caught up in a plot. In fact, some plays have been based on novels, and novels on plays. Yet, whereas the narrator of a novel can spend pages painting a picture of the story’s circumstances for the reader, a play is restricted to the space of the stage and the time frame of a couple of hours. What strategies are available to the playwright to ensure that the play successfully conveys its intended effects and themes?
To provide the story’s setting, a play requires sets. If you’ve ever been involved with a play, you know that the set can be made up of detailed backdrops, specifically designed props, strategic lighting, and sometimes even background noise. A set, along with the characters’ subtle indications of the scene, can generate a full setting in the audience’s imagination.
Another difference between fiction and drama is that usually a play’s plot is primarily forwarded through dialogue and action. Although a novel’s narrator can describe in detail the thoughts and impressions of its characters, a play’s effects depend much more heavily on what the characters say and do. A play is a performance, a spectacle, rather than words on paper. Some plays do include a narrator or a chorus, to introduce the scene or set the tone of the play, but the bulk of the production’s effect is generated through the dialogue and its visual devices, and since the play’s script dictates what the characters will say and often, through stage direction, its production strategies as well, the script is crucial to a successful performance.
A One-Act Play
Although the following script is only that, a script, it does give us a place to start as we investigate drama as a genre. Trifles is a one-act play, which is a drama that can usually be performed in an hour or less and in which the entire story is performed in one act as opposed to several. Although a one- act play can contain scene changes, this one only employs one scene.
By Susan Glaspell
First performed by the Provincetown Players at the Wharf Theatre, Provincetown, Mass., August 8, 1916.
GEORGE HENDERSON (County Attorney)
HENRY PETERS (Sheriff)
LEWIS HALE, A neighboring farmer
SCENE: The kitchen is the now abandoned farmhouse of JOHN WRIGHT, a gloomy kitchen, and left without having been put in order—unwashed pans under the sink, a loaf of bread outside the bread-box, a dish-towel on the table—other signs of incompleted work. At the rear the outer door opens and the SHERIFF comes in followed by the COUNTY ATTORNEY and HALE. The SHERIFF and HALE are men in middle life, the COUNTY ATTORNEY is a young man; all are much bundled up and go at once to the stove. They are followed by the two women—the SHERIFF’s wife first; she is a slight wiry woman, a thin nervous face. MRS. HALE is larger and would ordinarily be called more comfortable looking, but she is disturbed now and looks fearfully about as she enters. The women have come in slowly, and stand close together near the door.
(rubbing his hands)
This feels good. Come up to the fire, ladies.
(after taking a step forward)
(unbuttoning his overcoat and stepping away from the stove as if to mark the beginning of official business)
Now, Mr. Hale, before we move things about, you explain to Mr. Henderson just what you saw when you came here yesterday morning.
By the way, has anything been moved? Are things just as you left them yesterday?
It’s just the same. When it dropped below zero last night I thought I’d better send Frank out this morning to make a fire for us—no use getting pneumonia with a big case on, but I told him not to touch anything except the stove—and you know Frank.
Somebody should have been left here yesterday.
Oh—yesterday. When I had to send Frank to Morris Center for that man who went crazy—I want you to know I had my hands full yesterday. I knew you could get back from Omaha by today and as long as I went over everything here myself—
Well, Mr. Hale, tell just what happened when you came here yesterday morning.
Harry and I had started to town with a load of potatoes. We came along the road from my place and as I got here I said, I’m going to see if I can’t get John Wright to go in with me on a party telephone.’ I spoke to Wright about it once before and he put me off, saying folks talked too much anyway, and all he asked was peace and quiet—I guess you know about how much he talked himself; but I thought maybe if I went to the house and talked about it before his wife, though I said to Harry that I didn’t know as what his wife wanted made much difference to John—
Let’s talk about that later, Mr. Hale. I do want to talk about that, but tell now just what happened when you got to the house.
I didn’t hear or see anything; I knocked at the door, and still it was all quiet inside. I knew they must be up, it was past eight o’clock. So I knocked again, and I thought I heard somebody say, ‘Come in.’ I wasn’t sure, I’m not sure yet, but I opened the door—this door
(indicating the door by which the two women are still standing)
and there in that rocker—
(pointing to it)
sat Mrs. Wright.
(They all look at the rocker.)
What—was she doing?
She was rockin’ back and forth. She had her apron in her hand and was kind of—pleating it.
And how did she—look?
Well, she looked queer.
How do you mean—queer?
Well, as if she didn’t know what she was going to do next. And kind of done up.
How did she seem to feel about your coming?
Why, I don’t think she minded—one way or other. She didn’t pay much attention. I said, ‘How do, Mrs. Wright it’s cold, ain’t it?’ And she said, ‘Is it?’—and went on kind of pleating at her apron. Well, I was surprised; she didn’t ask me to come up to the stove, or to set down, but just sat there, not even looking at me, so I said, ‘I want to see John.’ And then she—laughed. I guess you would call it a laugh. I thought of Harry and the team outside, so I said a little sharp: ‘Can’t I see John?’ ‘No’, she says, kind o’ dull like. ‘Ain’t he home?’ says I. ‘Yes’, says she, ‘he’s home’. ‘Then why can’t I see him?’ I asked her, out of patience. ‘’Cause he’s dead’, says she. ‘Dead?’ says I. She just nodded her head, not getting a bit excited, but rockin’ back and forth. ‘Why—where is he?’ says I, not knowing what to say. She just pointed upstairs—like that
(himself pointing to the room above.)
I got up, with the idea of going up there. I walked from there to here—then I says, ‘Why, what did he die of?’ ‘He died of a rope round his neck’, says she, and just went on pleatin’ at her apron. Well, I went out and called Harry. I thought I might—need help. We went upstairs and there he was lyin’—
I think I’d rather have you go into that upstairs, where you can point it all out. Just go on now with the rest of the story.
Well, my first thought was to get that rope off. It looked...
(stops, his face twitches)
... but Harry, he went up to him, and he said, ‘No, he’s dead all right, and we’d better not touch anything.’ So we went back down stairs. She was still sitting that same way. ‘Has anybody been notified?’ I asked. ‘No’, says she unconcerned. ‘Who did this, Mrs. Wright?’ said Harry. He said it business-like—and she stopped pleatin’ of her apron. ‘I don’t know’, she says. ‘You don’t know?’ says Harry. ‘No’, says she. ‘Weren’t you sleepin’ in the bed with him?’ says Harry. ‘Yes’, says she, ‘but I was on the inside’. ‘Somebody slipped a rope round his neck and strangled him and you didn’t wake up?’ says Harry. ‘I didn’t wake up’, she said after him. We must ‘a looked as if we didn’t see how that could be, for after a minute she said, ‘I sleep sound’. Harry was going to ask her more questions but I said maybe we ought to let her tell her story first to the coroner, or the sheriff, so Harry went fast as he could to Rivers’ place, where there’s a telephone.
And what did Mrs. Wright do when she knew that you had gone for the coroner?
She moved from that chair to this one over here
(pointing to a small chair in the corner)
and just sat there with her hands held together and looking down. I got a feeling that I ought to make some conversation, so I said I had come in to see if John wanted to put in a telephone, and at that she started to laugh, and then she stopped and looked at me—scared,
(the COUNTY ATTORNEY, who has had his notebook out, makes a note.)
I dunno, maybe it wasn’t scared. I wouldn’t like to say it was. Soon Harry got back, and then Dr. Lloyd came, and you, Mr. Peters, and so I guess that’s all I know that you don’t.
I guess we’ll go upstairs first—and then out to the barn and around there,
(to the SHERIFF.)
You’re convinced that there was nothing important here—nothing that would point to any motive.
Nothing here but kitchen things.
(The COUNTY ATTORNEY, after again looking around the kitchen, opens the door of a cupboard closet. He gets up on a chair and looks on a shelf. Pulls his hand away, sticky.)
Here’s a nice mess.
(The women draw nearer.)
(to the other woman)
Oh, her fruit; it did freeze,
(to the LAWYER)
She worried about that when it turned so cold. She said the fire’d go out and her jars would break.
Well, can you beat the women! Held for murder and worryin’ about her preserves.
I guess before we’re through she may have something more serious than preserves to worry about.
Well, women are used to worrying over trifles.
(The two women move a little closer together.)
(with the gallantry of a young politician)
And yet, for all their worries, what would we do without the ladies?
(the women do not unbend. He goes to the sink, takes a dipperful of water from the pail and pouring it into a basin, washes his hands. Starts to wipe them on the roller-towel, turns it for a cleaner place)
(kicks his foot against the pans under the sink)
Not much of a housekeeper, would you say, ladies?
There’s a great deal of work to be done on a farm.
To be sure. And yet
(with a little bow to her)
I know there are some Dickson county farmhouses which do not have such roller towels.
(He gives it a pull to expose its length again.)
Those towels get dirty awful quick. Men’s hands aren’t always as clean as they might be.
Ah, loyal to your sex, I see. But you and Mrs. Wright were neighbors. I suppose you were friends, too.
(shaking her head)
I’ve not seen much of her of late years. I’ve not been in this house—it’s more than a year.
And why was that? You didn’t like her?
I liked her all well enough. Farmers’ wives have their hands full, Mr. Henderson. And then—
It never seemed a very cheerful place.
No—it’s not cheerful. I shouldn’t say she had the homemaking instinct.
Well, I don’t know as Wright had, either.
You mean that they didn’t get on very well?
No, I don’t mean anything. But I don’t think a place’d be any cheerfuller for John Wright’s being in it.
I’d like to talk more of that a little later. I want to get the lay of things upstairs now.
(He goes to the left, where three steps lead to a stair door.)
I suppose anything Mrs. Peters does’ll be all right. She was to take in some clothes for her, you know, and a few little things. We left in such a hurry yesterday.
Yes, but I would like to see what you take, Mrs. Peters, and keep an eye out for anything that might be of use to us.
Yes, Mr. Henderson.
(The women listen to the men’s steps on the stairs, then look about the kitchen.)
I’d hate to have men coming into my kitchen, snooping around and criticizing.
(She arranges the pans under sink which the LAWYER had shoved out of place.)
Of course it’s no more than their duty.
Duty’s all right, but I guess that deputy sheriff that came out to make the fire might have got a little of this on.
(gives the roller towel a pull.)
Wish I’d thought of that sooner. Seems mean to talk about her for not having things slicked up when she had to come away in such a hurry.
(who has gone to a small table in the left rear corner of the room, and lifted one end of a towel that covers a pan)
She had bread set.
(eyes fixed on a loaf of bread beside the bread-box, which is on a low shelf at the other side of the room. Moves slowly toward it.)
She was going to put this in there,
(picks up loaf, then abruptly drops it. In a manner of returning to familiar things.)
It’s a shame about her fruit. I wonder if it’s all gone.
(gets up on the chair and looks.)
I think there’s some here that’s all right, Mrs. Peters. Yes—here;
(holding it toward the window.)
this is cherries, too.
I declare I believe that’s the only one.
(gets down, bottle in her hand. Goes to the sink and wipes it off on the outside.)
She’ll feel awful bad after all her hard work in the hot weather. I remember the afternoon I put up my cherries last summer.
(She puts the bottle on the big kitchen table, center of the room. With a sigh, is about to sit down in the rocking-chair. Before she is seated realizes what chair it is; with a slow look at it, steps back. The chair which she has touched rocks back and forth.)
Well, I must get those things from the front room closet,
(she goes to the door at the right, but after looking into the other room, steps back.)
You coming with me, Mrs. Hale? You could help me carry them.
(They go in the other room; reappear, MRS. PETERS carrying a dress and skirt, MRS. HALE following with a pair of shoes.)
My, it’s cold in there.
(She puts the clothes on the big table, and hurries to the stove.)
(examining the skirt.)
Wright was close. I think maybe that’s why she kept so much to herself. She didn’t even belong to the Ladies Aid. I suppose she felt she couldn’t do her part, and then you don’t enjoy things when you feel shabby. She used to wear pretty clothes and be lively, when she was Minnie Foster, one of the town girls singing in the choir. But that—oh, that was thirty years ago. This all you was to take in?
She said she wanted an apron. Funny thing to want, for there isn’t much to get you dirty in jail, goodness knows. But I suppose just to make her feel more natural. She said they was in the top drawer in this cupboard. Yes, here. And then her little shawl that always hung behind the door.
(opens stair door and looks.)
Yes, here it is.
(Quickly shuts door leading upstairs.)
(abruptly moving toward her)
Yes, Mrs. Hale?
Do you think she did it?
(in a frightened voice)
Oh, I don’t know.
Well, I don’t think she did. Asking for an apron and her little shawl. Worrying about her fruit.
(starts to speak, glances up, where footsteps are heard in the room above. In a low voice)
Mr. Peters says it looks bad for her. Mr. Henderson is awful sarcastic in a speech and he’ll make fun of her sayin’ she didn’t wake up.
Well, I guess John Wright didn’t wake when they was slipping that rope under his neck.
No, it’s strange. It must have been done awful crafty and still. They say it was such a—funny way to kill a man, rigging it all up like that.
That’s just what Mr. Hale said. There was a gun in the house. He says that’s what he can’t understand.
Mr. Henderson said coming out that what was needed for the case was a motive; something to show anger, or—sudden feeling.
(who is standing by the table.)
Well, I don’t see any signs of anger around here,
(she puts her hand on the dish towel which lies on the table, stands looking down at table, one half of which is clean, the other half messy.)
It’s wiped to here,
(makes a move as if to finish work, then turns and looks at loaf of bread outside the breadbox. Drops towel. In that voice of coming back to familiar things.)
Wonder how they are finding things upstairs. I hope she had it a little more red-up up there. You know, it seems kind of sneaking. Locking her up in town and then coming out here and trying to get her own house to turn against her!
But Mrs. Hale, the law is the law.
I s’pose ‘tis,
(unbuttoning her coat.)
Better loosen up your things, Mrs. Peters. You won’t feel them when you go out.
(MRS. PETERS takes off her fur tippet, goes to hang it on hook at back of room, stands looking at the under part of the small corner table.)
She was piecing a quilt.
(She brings the large sewing basket and they look at the bright pieces.)
It’s log cabin pattern. Pretty, isn’t it? I wonder if she was goin’ to quilt it or just knot it?
(Footsteps have been heard coming down the stairs. The SHERIFF enters followed by HALE and the COUNTY ATTORNEY.)
They wonder if she was going to quilt it or just knot it!
(The men laugh, the women look abashed.)
(rubbing his hands over the stove)
Frank’s fire didn’t do much up there, did it? Well, let’s go out to the barn and get that cleared up.
(The men go outside.)
I don’t know as there’s anything so strange, our takin’ up our time with little things while we’re waiting for them to get the evidence.
(she sits down at the big table smoothing out a block with decision)
I don’t see as it’s anything to laugh about.
Of course they’ve got awful important things on their minds.
(Pulls up a chair and joins MRS HALE at the table.)
(examining another block)
Mrs. Peters, look at this one. Here, this is the one she was working on, and look at the sewing! All the rest of it has been so nice and even. And look at this! It’s all over the place! Why, it looks as if she didn’t know what she was about!
(After she has said this they look at each other, then start to glance back at the door. After an instant MRS. HALE has pulled at a knot and ripped the sewing.)
Oh, what are you doing, Mrs. Hale?
Just pulling out a stitch or two that’s not sewed very good.
(threading a needle)
Bad sewing always made me fidgety.
I don’t think we ought to touch things.
I’ll just finish up this end.
(suddenly stopping and leaning forward)
Yes, Mrs. Hale?
What do you suppose she was so nervous about?
Oh—I don’t know. I don’t know as she was nervous. I sometimes sew awful queer when I’m just tired.
(MRS. HALE starts to say something, looks at MRS. PETERS, then goes on sewing)
Well I must get these things wrapped up. They may be through sooner than we think,
(putting apron and other things together)
I wonder where I can find a piece of paper, and string.
In that cupboard, maybe.
(looking in cupboard)
Why, here’s a bird-cage,
(holds it up.)
Did she have a bird, Mrs. Hale?
Why, I don’t know whether she did or not—I’ve not been here for so long. There was a man around last year selling canaries cheap, but I don’t know as she took one; maybe she did. She used to sing real pretty herself.
Seems funny to think of a bird here. But she must have had one, or why would she have a cage? I wonder what happened to it.
I s’pose maybe the cat got it.
No, she didn’t have a cat. She’s got that feeling some people have about cats—being afraid of them. My cat got in her room and she was real upset and asked me to take it out.
My sister Bessie was like that. Queer, ain’t it?
(examining the cage.)
Why, look at this door. It’s broke. One hinge is pulled apart.
Looks as if someone must have been rough with it.
(She brings the cage forward and puts it on the table.)
I wish if they’re going to find any evidence they’d be about it. I don’t like this place.
But I’m awful glad you came with me, Mrs. Hale. It would be lonesome for me sitting here alone.
It would, wouldn’t it?
(dropping her sewing)
But I tell you what I do wish, Mrs. Peters. I wish I had come over sometimes when she was here. I—
(looking around the room)
—wish I had.
But of course you were awful busy, Mrs. Hale—your house and your children.
I could’ve come. I stayed away because it weren’t cheerful—and that’s why I ought to have come. I—I’ve never liked this place. Maybe because it’s down in a hollow and you don’t see the road. I dunno what it is, but it’s a lonesome place and always was. I wish I had come over to see Minnie Foster sometimes. I can see now—
(shakes her head)
Well, you mustn’t reproach yourself, Mrs. Hale. Somehow we just don’t see how it is with other folks until—something comes up.
Not having children makes less work—but it makes a quiet house, and Wright out to work all day, and no company when he did come in. Did you know John Wright, Mrs. Peters?
Not to know him; I’ve seen him in town. They say he was a good man.
Yes—good; he didn’t drink, and kept his word as well as most, I guess, and paid his debts. But he was a hard man, Mrs. Peters. Just to pass the time of day with him—
Like a raw wind that gets to the bone,
(pauses, her eye falling on the cage.)
I should think she would ‘a wanted a bird. But what do you suppose went with it?
I don’t know, unless it got sick and died.
(She reaches over and swings the broken door, swings it again, both women watch it.)
You weren’t raised round here, were you?
(MRS. PETERS shakes her head.)
You didn’t know—her?
Not till they brought her yesterday.
She—come to think of it, she was kind of like a bird herself—real sweet and pretty, but kind of timid and—fluttery. How—she—did—change.
(silence; then as if struck by a happy thought and relieved to get back to everyday things.)
Tell you what, Mrs. Peters, why don’t you take the quilt in with you? It might take up her mind.
Why, I think that’s a real nice idea, Mrs. Hale. There couldn’t possibly be any objection to it, could there? Now, just what would I take? I wonder if her patches are in here—and her things.
(They look in the sewing basket.)
Here’s some red. I expect this has got sewing things in it.
(brings out a fancy box)
What a pretty box. Looks like something somebody would give you. Maybe her scissors are in here.
(Opens box. Suddenly puts her hand to her nose)
(MRS. PETERS bends nearer, then turns her face away)
There’s something wrapped up in this piece of silk.
Why, this isn’t her scissors.
(lifting the silk)
Oh, Mrs. Peters—it’s—
(MRS. PETERS bends closer.)
It’s the bird.
But, Mrs. Peters—look at it! It’s neck! Look at its neck! It’s all—other side to.
(Their eyes meet. A look of growing comprehension, of horror. Steps are heard outside. MRS. HALE slips box under quilt pieces, and sinks into her chair. Enter SHERIFF and COUNTY ATTORNEY. MRS. PETERS rises.)
(as one turning from serious things to little pleasantries)
Well ladies, have you decided whether she was going to quilt it or knot it?
We think she was going to—knot it.
Well, that’s interesting, I’m sure.
(seeing the birdcage)
Has the bird flown?
(putting more quilt pieces over the box)
We think the—cat got it.
Is there a cat?
(MRS. HALE glances in a quick covert way at MRS. PETERS.)
Well, not now. They’re superstitious, you know. They leave.
(to SHERIFF PETERS, continuing an interrupted conversation)
No sign at all of anyone having come from the outside. Their own rope. Now let’s go up again and go over it piece by piece.
(they start upstairs)
It would have to have been someone who knew just the—
(MRS. PETERS sits down. The two women sit there not looking at one another, but as if peering into something and at the same time holding back. When they talk now it is in the manner of feeling their way over strange ground, as if afraid of what they are saying, but as if they can not help saying it.)
She liked the bird. She was going to bury it in that pretty box.
(in a whisper)
When I was a girl—my kitten—there was a boy took a hatchet, and before my eyes—and before I could get there—
(covers her face an instant)
If they hadn’t held me back I would have—
(catches herself, looks upstairs where steps are heard, falters weakly)
(with a slow look around her)
I wonder how it would seem never to have had any children around,
No, Wright wouldn’t like the bird—a thing that sang. She used to sing. He killed that, too.
We don’t know who killed the bird.
I knew John Wright.
It was an awful thing was done in this house that night, Mrs. Hale. Killing a man while he slept, slipping a rope around his neck that choked the life out of him.
His neck. Choked the life out of him.
(Her hand goes out and rests on the bird-cage.)
(with rising voice)
We don’t know who killed him. We don’t know.
(her own feeling not interrupted)
If there’d been years and years of nothing, then a bird to sing to you, it would be awful—still, after the bird was still.
(something within her speaking.)
I know what stillness is. When we homesteaded in Dakota, and my first baby died—after he was two years old, and me with no other then—
How soon do you suppose they’ll be through, looking for the evidence?
I know what stillness is.
(pulling herself back.)
The law has got to punish crime, Mrs. Hale.
(not as if answering that.)
I wish you’d seen Minnie Foster when she wore a white dress with blue ribbons and stood up there in the choir and sang.
(a look around the room.)
Oh, I wish I’d come over here once in a while! That was a crime! That was a crime! Who’s going to punish that?
We mustn’t—take on.
I might have known she needed help! I know how things can be—for women. I tell you, it’s queer, Mrs. Peters. We live close together and we live far apart. We all go through the same things—it’s all just a different kind of the same thing,
(brushes her eyes, noticing the bottle of fruit, reaches out for it.)
If I was you, I wouldn’t tell her her fruit was gone. Tell her it ain’t. Tell her it’s all right. Take this in to prove it to her. She—she may never know whether it was broke or not.
(takes the bottle, looks about for something to wrap it in; takes petticoat from the clothes brought from the other room, very nervously begins winding this around the bottle. In a false voice.)
My, it’s a good thing the men couldn’t hear us. Wouldn’t they just laugh! Getting all stirred up over a little thing like a—dead canary. As if that could have anything to do with—with—wouldn’t they laugh!
(The men are heard coming down stairs.)
(under her breath.)
Maybe they would—maybe they wouldn’t.
No, Peters, it’s all perfectly clear except a reason for doing it. But you know juries when it comes to women. If there was some definite thing. Something to show—something to make a story about—a thing that would connect up with this strange way of doing it—
(The women’s eyes meet for an instant. Enter HALE from outer door.)
Well, I’ve got the team around. Pretty cold out there.
I’m going to stay here a while by myself,
(to the SHERIFF.)
You can send Frank out for me, can’t you? I want to go over everything. I’m not satisfied that we can’t do better.
Do you want to see what Mrs. Peters is going to take in?
(The LAWYER goes to the table, picks up the apron, laughs.)
Oh, I guess they’re not very dangerous things the ladies have picked out.
(Moves a few things about, disturbing the quilt pieces which cover the box. Steps back)
No, Mrs. Peters doesn’t need supervising. For that matter, a sheriff’s wife is married to the law. Ever think of it that way, Mrs. Peters?
Not—just that way.
Married to the law.
(moves toward the other room)
I just want you to come in here a minute, George. We ought to take a look at these windows.
We’ll be right out, Mr. Hale.
(HALE goes outside. The SHERIFF follows the COUNTY ATTORNEY into the other room. Then MRS. HALE rises, hands tight together, looking intensely at MRS. PETERS, whose eyes make a slow turn, finally meeting MRS. HALE’s. A moment MRS. HALE holds her, then her own eyes point the way to where the box is concealed. Suddenly MRS. PETERS throws back quilt pieces and tries to put the box in the bag she is wearing. It is too big. She opens box, starts to take bird out, cannot touch it, goes to pieces, stands there helpless. Sound of a knob turning in the other room. MRS. HALE snatches the box and puts it in the pocket of her big coat. Enter COUNTY ATTORNEY and SHERIFF.)
Well, Henry, at least we found out that she was not going to quilt it. She was going to—what is it you call it, ladies?
(her hand against her pocket)
We call it—knot it, Mr. Henderson.
Questions for Consideration:
Discuss what sort of backdrop, props, and costumes would be required to perform this play. How much of this detail is dictated by the stage directions and how much of it is left for the director to create?
How are the characters revealed? Which lines of dialogue are especially tell-tale regarding certain characters’ values and personalities?
How does the play develop the audience’s impression of Mrs. Wright, though she never appears in the play?
In light of the play’s themes, what does the bird cage symbolize? How does that symbol develop our impression of Mr. and Mrs. Wright?
How does the metaphor of the quilt serve to develop the theme of women’s undervalued work?
Consider the order and pace whereby clues are revealed to the audience. How does the plot unfold to generate suspense and interest for the audience?
In Trifles, Glaspell employs some round characters and some flat, or stock, characters. Round, complex characters, like Mrs. Wright, Mrs. Hale, and Mrs. Peters, reflect the complicated personalities and experiences that most of us can identify with. When Mrs. Peters seems torn between following the wishes of her husband, who represents the law, and showing sympathy with Mrs. Wright, we understand her conflict. Most of us have encountered similar conflicts in our daily lives. However, we tend to dislike Mr. Henderson, partly because he insults Mrs. Wright, but also, notably, because he is a flat character. He does not reveal the capacity or the habit of complex thought, but rather reacts to his surroundings based on his stereotype-based assumptions. Since the male characters represent dominant male society, including familiar patriarchs (Mr. Wright is the authority in his house), a society in which women have not yet been granted the right to vote, and a legal system that does not recognize women as full citizens, they are sustained as flat. While it may seem that the use of flat characters would yield a weak play, it is important to consider why writers use flat characters at all. Since these characters carry with them a ready-made impression, less dialogue has to be devoted to developing them, thereby creating more dialogue-space for other important characters or ideas. In this short play, most of the script focuses on the dialogue and actions of Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters, allowing Glaspell to develop the theme successfully.
Shakespeare’s The Tempest
In a longer play, of several acts, a playwright has more room for development. Like the novel relative to the short story, a longer play can elaborate on the central theme and can even develop several plot and theme threads. Consider William Shakespeare’s The Tempest and the various storylines he develops in this play.
Prospero, former Duke of Milan; father of Miranda
Miranda: Prospero’s young daughter
Iris, Juno, Ceres, Nymphs, Reapers: Spirits
Trinculo, a jester
Sebastian, Alonso’s brother
Stephano, a drunken butler
Gonzalo, an old and honest lord
Antonio, Prospero’s brother
Ariel, an airy spirit, servant to Prospero
Adrian and Francisco, noblemen; companions of Alonzo
Alonso, king of Naples; father of Ferdinand
Ferdinand, son and heir of Alonso
Caliban, Prospero’s servant, savage and deformed; son of Sycorax
Master of a Ship, Boatswains, Mariners
SETTING: A ship at sea during a terrible storm; later, a Mediterranean island to which Prospero has been banished with Miranda since she was a young child and where the ship’s travelers come ashore
SCENE I. On a ship at sea: a tempestuous noise of thunder and lightning heard.
Enter a Master and a Boatswain
Here, master: what cheer?
Good, speak to the mariners: fall to’t, yarely,
or we run ourselves aground: bestir, bestir.
Heigh, my hearts! cheerly, cheerly, my hearts!
yare, yare! Take in the topsail. Tend to the
master’s whistle. Blow, till thou burst thy wind,
if room enough!
Enter ALONSO, SEBASTIAN, ANTONIO, FERDINAND, GONZALO, and others
Good boatswain, have care. Where’s the master?
Play the men. 10
I pray now, keep below.
Where is the master, boatswain?
Do you not hear him? You mar our labour: keep your
cabins: you do assist the storm.
Nay, good, be patient.
When the sea is. Hence! What cares these roarersfor the name of king? To cabin: silence! trouble us not.
Good, yet remember whom thou hast aboard.
None that I more love than myself. You are a
counsellor; if you can command these elements to 20
silence, and work the peace of the present, we will
not hand a rope more; use your authority: if you
cannot, give thanks you have lived so long, and make
yourself ready in your cabin for the mischance of
the hour, if it so hap. Cheerly, good hearts! Out
of our way, I say.
I have great comfort from this fellow: methinks he
hath no drowning mark upon him; his complexion is
perfect gallows. Stand fast, good Fate, to his
hanging: make the rope of his destiny our cable, 30
for our own doth little advantage. If he be not
born to be hanged, our case is miserable.
Down with the topmast! yare! lower, lower! Bring
her to try with main-course.
A cry within
A plague upon this howling! they are louder than
the weather or our office.
Re-enter SEBASTIAN, ANTONIO, and GONZALO
Yet again! what do you here? Shall we give o’er
and drown? Have you a mind to sink?
A pox o’ your throat, you bawling, blasphemous, 40
Work you then.
Hang, cur! hang, you whoreson, insolent noisemaker!
We are less afraid to be drowned than thou art.
I’ll warrant him for drowning; though the ship were no stronger than a nutshell and as leaky as an
Lay her a-hold, a-hold! set her two courses off to
sea again; lay her off.
Enter Mariners wet 50
All lost! to prayers, to prayers! all lost!
What, must our mouths be cold?
The king and prince at prayers! let’s assist them,
For our case is as theirs.
I’m out of patience.
We are merely cheated of our lives by drunkards:
This wide-chapp’d rascal—would thou mightst lie drowning
The washing of ten tides!
He’ll be hang’d yet,
Though every drop of water swear against it
And gape at widest to glut him.
A confused noise within: ‘Mercy on us!’— 60
‘We split, we split!’—’Farewell, my wife and children!’—
‘Farewell, brother!’—’We split, we split, we split!’
Let’s all sink with the king.
Let’s take leave of him.
Exeunt ANTONIO and SEBASTIAN
Now would I give a thousand furlongs of sea for an
acre of barren ground, long heath, brown furze, any thing. The wills above be done! but I would fain
die a dry death.
SCENE II. The island. Before PROSPERO’S cell.
Enter PROSPERO and MIRANDA
If by your art, my dearest father, you have 70
Put the wild waters in this roar, allay them.
The sky, it seems, would pour down stinking pitch,
But that the sea, mounting to the welkin’s cheek,
Dashes the fire out. O, I have suffered
With those that I saw suffer: a brave vessel,
Who had, no doubt, some noble creature in her,
Dash’d all to pieces. O, the cry did knock
Against my very heart. Poor souls, they perish’d.
Had I been any god of power, I would
Have sunk the sea within the earth or ere 80
It should the good ship so have swallow’d and
The fraughting souls within her.
No more amazement: tell your piteous heart
There’s no harm done.
O, woe the day!
I have done nothing but in care of thee,
Of thee, my dear one, thee, my daughter, who
Art ignorant of what thou art, nought knowing 90
Of whence I am, nor that I am more better
Than Prospero, master of a full poor cell,
And thy no greater father.
More to know
Did never meddle with my thoughts.
I should inform thee farther. Lend thy hand,
And pluck my magic garment from me. So:
Lays down his mantle
Lie there, my art. Wipe thou thine eyes; have comfort. 100
The direful spectacle of the wreck, which touch’d
The very virtue of compassion in thee,
I have with such provision in mine art
So safely ordered that there is no soul—
No, not so much perdition as an hair
Betid to any creature in the vessel
Which thou heard’st cry, which thou saw’st sink. Sit down;
For thou must now know farther.
You have often
Begun to tell me what I am, but stopp’d 110
And left me to a bootless inquisition,
Concluding ‘Stay: not yet.’
The hour’s now come;
The very minute bids thee ope thine ear;
Obey and be attentive. Canst thou remember
A time before we came unto this cell?
I do not think thou canst, for then thou wast not
Out three years old.
Certainly, sir, I can.
By what? by any other house or person? 120
Of any thing the image tell me that
Hath kept with thy remembrance.
‘Tis far off
And rather like a dream than an assurance
That my remembrance warrants. Had I not
Four or five women once that tended me?
Thou hadst, and more, Miranda. But how is it
That this lives in thy mind? What seest thou else
In the dark backward and abysm of time?
If thou remember’st aught ere thou camest here, 130
How thou camest here thou mayst.
But that I do not.
Twelve year since, Miranda, twelve year since,
Thy father was the Duke of Milan and
A prince of power.
Sir, are not you my father?
Thy mother was a piece of virtue, and
She said thou wast my daughter; and thy father
Was Duke of Milan; and thou his only heir
And princess no worse issued. 140
O the heavens!
What foul play had we, that we came from thence?
Or blessed was’t we did?
Both, both, my girl:
By foul play, as thou say’st, were we heaved thence,
But blessedly holp hither.
O, my heart bleeds
To think o’ the teen that I have turn’d you to,
Which is from my remembrance! Please you, farther.
My brother and thy uncle, call’d Antonio— 150
I pray thee, mark me—that a brother should
Be so perfidious!—he whom next thyself
Of all the world I loved and to him put
The manage of my state; as at that time
Through all the signories it was the first
And Prospero the prime duke, being so reputed
In dignity, and for the liberal arts
Without a parallel; those being all my study,
The government I cast upon my brother
And to my state grew stranger, being transported 160
And rapt in secret studies. Thy false uncle—
Dost thou attend me?
Sir, most heedfully.
Being once perfected how to grant suits,
How to deny them, who to advance and who
To trash for over-topping, new created
The creatures that were mine, I say, or changed ‘em,
Or else new form’d ‘em; having both the key
Of officer and office, set all hearts i’ the state
To what tune pleased his ear; that now he was 170
The ivy which had hid my princely trunk,
And suck’d my verdure out on’t. Thou attend’st not.
O, good sir, I do.
I pray thee, mark me.
I, thus neglecting worldly ends, all dedicated
To closeness and the bettering of my mind
With that which, but by being so retired,
O’er-prized all popular rate, in my false brother
Awaked an evil nature; and my trust,
Like a good parent, did beget of him 180
A falsehood in its contrary as great
As my trust was; which had indeed no limit,
A confidence sans bound. He being thus lorded,
Not only with what my revenue yielded,
But what my power might else exact, like one
Who having into truth, by telling of it,
Made such a sinner of his memory,
To credit his own lie, he did believe
He was indeed the duke; out o’ the substitution
And executing the outward face of royalty, 190
With all prerogative: hence his ambition growing—
Dost thou hear?
Your tale, sir, would cure deafness.
To have no screen between this part he play’d
And him he play’d it for, he needs will be
Absolute Milan. Me, poor man, my library
Was dukedom large enough: of temporal royalties
He thinks me now incapable; confederates—
So dry he was for sway—wi’ the King of Naples
To give him annual tribute, do him homage, 200
Subject his coronet to his crown and bend
The dukedom yet unbow’d—alas, poor Milan!—
To most ignoble stooping.
O the heavens!
Mark his condition and the event; then tell me
If this might be a brother.
I should sin
To think but nobly of my grandmother:
Good wombs have borne bad sons.
Now the condition. 210
The King of Naples, being an enemy
To me inveterate, hearkens my brother’s suit;
Which was, that he, in lieu o’ the premises
Of homage and I know not how much tribute,
Should presently extirpate me and mine
Out of the dukedom and confer fair Milan
With all the honours on my brother: whereon,
A treacherous army levied, one midnight
Fated to the purpose did Antonio open
The gates of Milan, and, i’ the dead of darkness, 220
The ministers for the purpose hurried thence
Me and thy crying self.
Alack, for pity!
I, not remembering how I cried out then,
Will cry it o’er again: it is a hint
That wrings mine eyes to’t.
Hear a little further
And then I’ll bring thee to the present business
Which now’s upon’s; without the which this story
Were most impertinent. 230
Wherefore did they not
That hour destroy us?
Well demanded, wench:
My tale provokes that question. Dear, they durst not,
So dear the love my people bore me, nor set
A mark so bloody on the business, but
With colours fairer painted their foul ends.
In few, they hurried us aboard a bark,
Bore us some leagues to sea; where they prepared
A rotten carcass of a boat, not rigg’d, 240
Nor tackle, sail, nor mast; the very rats
Instinctively had quit it: there they hoist us,
To cry to the sea that roar’d to us, to sigh
To the winds whose pity, sighing back again,
Did us but loving wrong.
Alack, what trouble
Was I then to you!
O, a cherubim
Thou wast that did preserve me. Thou didst smile.
Infused with a fortitude from heaven, 250
When I have deck’d the sea with drops full salt,
Under my burthen groan’d; which raised in me
An undergoing stomach, to bear up
Against what should ensue.
How came we ashore?
By Providence divine.
Some food we had and some fresh water that
A noble Neapolitan, Gonzalo,
Out of his charity, being then appointed
Master of this design, did give us, with 260
Rich garments, linens, stuffs and necessaries,
Which since have steaded much; so, of his gentleness,
Knowing I loved my books, he furnish’d me
From mine own library with volumes that
I prize above my dukedom.
Would I might
But ever see that man!
Now I arise:
Resumes his mantle
Sit still, and hear the last of our sea-sorrow. 270
Here in this island we arrived; and here
Have I, thy schoolmaster, made thee more profit
Than other princesses can that have more time
For vainer hours and tutors not so careful.
Heavens thank you for’t! And now, I pray you, sir,
For still ‘tis beating in my mind, your reason
For raising this sea-storm?
Know thus far forth.
By accident most strange, bountiful Fortune,
Now my dear lady, hath mine enemies 280
Brought to this shore; and by my prescience
I find my zenith doth depend upon
A most auspicious star, whose influence
If now I court not but omit, my fortunes
Will ever after droop. Here cease more questions:
Thou art inclined to sleep; ‘tis a good dulness,
And give it way: I know thou canst not choose.
Come away, servant, come. I am ready now.
Approach, my Ariel, come.
All hail, great master! grave sir, hail! I come 290
To answer thy best pleasure; be’t to fly,
To swim, to dive into the fire, to ride
On the curl’d clouds, to thy strong bidding task
Ariel and all his quality.
Hast thou, spirit,
Perform’d to point the tempest that I bade thee?
To every article.
I boarded the king’s ship; now on the beak,
Now in the waist, the deck, in every cabin,
I flamed amazement: sometime I’ld divide, 300
And burn in many places; on the topmast,
The yards and bowsprit, would I flame distinctly,
Then meet and join. Jove’s lightnings, the precursors
O’ the dreadful thunder-claps, more momentary
And sight-outrunning were not; the fire and cracks
Of sulphurous roaring the most mighty Neptune
Seem to besiege and make his bold waves tremble,
Yea, his dread trident shake.
My brave spirit!
Who was so firm, so constant, that this coil 310
Would not infect his reason?
Not a soul
But felt a fever of the mad and play’d
Some tricks of desperation. All but mariners
Plunged in the foaming brine and quit the vessel,
Then all afire with me: the king’s son, Ferdinand,
With hair up-staring,—then like reeds, not hair,—
Was the first man that leap’d; cried, ‘Hell is empty
And all the devils are here.’
Why that’s my spirit! 320
But was not this nigh shore?
Close by, my master.
But are they, Ariel, safe?
Not a hair perish’d;
On their sustaining garments not a blemish,
But fresher than before: and, as thou badest me,
In troops I have dispersed them ‘bout the isle.
The king’s son have I landed by himself;
Whom I left cooling of the air with sighs
In an odd angle of the isle and sitting, 330
His arms in this sad knot.
Of the king’s ship
The mariners say how thou hast disposed
And all the rest o’ the fleet.
Safely in harbour
Is the king’s ship; in the deep nook, where once
Thou call’dst me up at midnight to fetch dew
From the still-vex’d Bermoothes, there she’s hid:
The mariners all under hatches stow’d;
Who, with a charm join’d to their suffer’d labour, 340
I have left asleep; and for the rest o’ the fleet
Which I dispersed, they all have met again
And are upon the Mediterranean flote,
Bound sadly home for Naples,
Supposing that they saw the king’s ship wreck’d
And his great person perish.
Ariel, thy charge
Exactly is perform’d: but there’s more work.
What is the time o’ the day?
Past the mid season. 350
At least two glasses. The time ‘twixt six and now
Must by us both be spent most preciously.
Is there more toil? Since thou dost give me pains,
Let me remember thee what thou hast promised,
Which is not yet perform’d me.
How now? moody?
What is’t thou canst demand?
Before the time be out? no more!
I prithee, 360
Remember I have done thee worthy service;
Told thee no lies, made thee no mistakings, served
Without or grudge or grumblings: thou didst promise
To bate me a full year.
Dost thou forget
From what a torment I did free thee?
Thou dost, and think’st it much to tread the ooze
Of the salt deep,
To run upon the sharp wind of the north, 370
To do me business in the veins o’ the earth
When it is baked with frost.
I do not, sir.
Thou liest, malignant thing! Hast thou forgot
The foul witch Sycorax, who with age and envy
Was grown into a hoop? hast thou forgot her?
Thou hast. Where was she born? speak; tell me.
Sir, in Argier.
O, was she so? I must 380
Once in a month recount what thou hast been,
Which thou forget’st. This damn’d witch Sycorax,
For mischiefs manifold and sorceries terrible
To enter human hearing, from Argier,
Thou know’st, was banish’d: for one thing she did
They would not take her life. Is not this true?
This blue-eyed hag was hither brought with child
And here was left by the sailors. Thou, my slave,
As thou report’st thyself, wast then her servant; 390
And, for thou wast a spirit too delicate
To act her earthy and abhorr’d commands,
Refusing her grand hests, she did confine thee,
By help of her more potent ministers
And in her most unmitigable rage,
Into a cloven pine; within which rift
Imprison’d thou didst painfully remain
A dozen years; within which space she died
And left thee there; where thou didst vent thy groans
As fast as mill-wheels strike. Then was this island— 400
Save for the son that she did litter here,
A freckled whelp hag-born—not honour’d with
A human shape.
Yes, Caliban her son.
Dull thing, I say so; he, that Caliban
Whom now I keep in service. Thou best know’st
What torment I did find thee in; thy groans
Did make wolves howl and penetrate the breasts
Of ever angry bears: it was a torment
To lay upon the damn’d, which Sycorax 410
Could not again undo: it was mine art,
When I arrived and heard thee, that made gape
The pine and let thee out.
I thank thee, master.
If thou more murmur’st, I will rend an oak
And peg thee in his knotty entrails till
Thou hast howl’d away twelve winters.
Pardon, master; I will be correspondent to command
And do my spiriting gently.
Do so, and after two days 420
I will discharge thee.
That’s my noble master!
What shall I do? say what; what shall I do?
Go make thyself like a nymph o’ the sea: be subject
To no sight but thine and mine, invisible
To every eyeball else. Go take this shape
And hither come in’t: go, hence with diligence!
Awake, dear heart, awake! thou hast slept well; Awake!
The strangeness of your story put
Heaviness in me. 430
Shake it off. Come on;
We’ll visit Caliban my slave, who never
Yields us kind answer.
‘Tis a villain, sir,
I do not love to look on.
But, as ‘tis,
We cannot miss him: he does make our fire,
Fetch in our wood and serves in offices
That profit us. What, ho! slave! Caliban!
Thou earth, thou! speak. 440
[Within] There’s wood enough within.
Come forth, I say! there’s other business for thee:
Come, thou tortoise! when?
Re-enter ARIEL like a water-nymph
Fine apparition! My quaint Ariel,
Hark in thine ear.
My lord it shall be done.
Thou poisonous slave, got by the devil himself
Upon thy wicked dam, come forth!
As wicked dew as e’er my mother brush’d
With raven’s feather from unwholesome fen 450
Drop on you both! a south-west blow on ye
And blister you all o’er!
For this, be sure, to-night thou shalt have cramps,
Side-stitches that shall pen thy breath up; urchins
Shall, for that vast of night that they may work,
All exercise on thee; thou shalt be pinch’d
As thick as honeycomb, each pinch more stinging
Than bees that made ‘em.
I must eat my dinner.
This island’s mine, by Sycorax my mother, 460
Which thou takest from me. When thou camest first,
Thou strokedst me and madest much of me, wouldst give me
Water with berries in’t, and teach me how
To name the bigger light, and how the less,
That burn by day and night: and then I loved thee
And show’d thee all the qualities o’ the isle,
The fresh springs, brine-pits, barren place and fertile:
Cursed be I that did so! All the charms
Of Sycorax, toads, beetles, bats, light on you!
For I am all the subjects that you have, 470
Which first was mine own king: and here you sty me
In this hard rock, whiles you do keep from me
The rest o’ the island.
Thou most lying slave,
Whom stripes may move, not kindness! I have used thee,
Filth as thou art, with human care, and lodged thee
In mine own cell, till thou didst seek to violate
The honour of my child.
O ho, O ho! would’t had been done!
Thou didst prevent me; I had peopled else 480
This isle with Calibans.
Which any print of goodness wilt not take,
Being capable of all ill! I pitied thee,
Took pains to make thee speak, taught thee each hour
One thing or other: when thou didst not, savage,
Know thine own meaning, but wouldst gabble like
A thing most brutish, I endow’d thy purposes
With words that made them known. But thy vile race,
Though thou didst learn, had that in’t which 490
Could not abide to be with; therefore wast thou
Deservedly confined into this rock,
Who hadst deserved more than a prison.
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!
Fetch us in fuel; and be quick, thou’rt best,
To answer other business. Shrug’st thou, malice? 500
If thou neglect’st or dost unwillingly
What I command, I’ll rack thee with old cramps,
Fill all thy bones with aches, make thee roar
That beasts shall tremble at thy din.
No, pray thee.
[Aside] I must obey: his art is of such power,
It would control my dam’s god, Setebos,
and make a vassal of him.
So, slave; hence! 510
Re-enter ARIEL, invisible, playing and singing;
Come unto these yellow sands,
And then take hands:
Courtsied when you have and kiss’d
The wild waves whist,
Foot it featly here and there;
And, sweet sprites, the burthen bear.
Burthen dispersedly, within
The watch-dogs bark!
Burthen Bow-wow 520
Hark, hark! I hear
The strain of strutting chanticleer
Where should this music be? i’ the air or the earth?
It sounds no more: and sure, it waits upon
Some god o’ the island. Sitting on a bank,
Weeping again the king my father’s wreck,
This music crept by me upon the waters,
Allaying both their fury and my passion
With its sweet air: thence I have follow’d it, 530
Or it hath drawn me rather. But ‘tis gone.
No, it begins again.
Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell 540
Hark! now I hear them,—Ding-dong, bell.
The ditty does remember my drown’d father.
This is no mortal business, nor no sound
That the earth owes. I hear it now above me.
The fringed curtains of thine eye advance
And say what thou seest yond.
What is’t? a spirit?
Lord, how it looks about! Believe me, sir,
It carries a brave form. But ‘tis a spirit. 550
No, wench; it eats and sleeps and hath such senses
As we have, such. This gallant which thou seest
Was in the wreck; and, but he’s something stain’d
With grief that’s beauty’s canker, thou mightst call him
A goodly person: he hath lost his fellows
And strays about to find ‘em.
I might call him
A thing divine, for nothing natural
I ever saw so noble.
[Aside] It goes on, I see, 560
As my soul prompts it. Spirit, fine spirit! I’ll free thee
Within two days for this.
Most sure, the goddess
On whom these airs attend! Vouchsafe my prayer
May know if you remain upon this island;
And that you will some good instruction give
How I may bear me here: my prime request,
Which I do last pronounce, is, O you wonder!
If you be maid or no?
No wonder, sir; 570
But certainly a maid.
My language! heavens!
I am the best of them that speak this speech,
Were I but where ‘tis spoken.
How? the best?
What wert thou, if the King of Naples heard thee?
A single thing, as I am now, that wonders
To hear thee speak of Naples. He does hear me;
And that he does I weep: myself am Naples,
Who with mine eyes, never since at ebb, beheld 580
The king my father wreck’d.
Alack, for mercy!
Yes, faith, and all his lords; the Duke of Milan
And his brave son being twain.
[Aside] The Duke of Milan
And his more braver daughter could control thee,
If now ‘twere fit to do’t. At the first sight
They have changed eyes. Delicate Ariel,
I’ll set thee free for this.
A word, good sir; 590
I fear you have done yourself some wrong: a word.
Why speaks my father so ungently? This
Is the third man that e’er I saw, the first
That e’er I sigh’d for: pity move my father
To be inclined my way!
O, if a virgin,
And your affection not gone forth, I’ll make you
The queen of Naples.
Soft, sir! one word more.
They are both in either’s powers; but this swift business 600
I must uneasy make, lest too light winning
Make the prize light.
One word more; I charge thee
That thou attend me: thou dost here usurp
The name thou owest not; and hast put thyself
Upon this island as a spy, to win it
From me, the lord on’t.
No, as I am a man.
There’s nothing ill can dwell in such a temple:
If the ill spirit have so fair a house, 610
Good things will strive to dwell with’t.
Speak not you for him; he’s a traitor. Come;
I’ll manacle thy neck and feet together:
Sea-water shalt thou drink; thy food shall be
The fresh-brook muscles, wither’d roots and husks
Wherein the acorn cradled. Follow.
I will resist such entertainment till
Mine enemy has more power. 620
Draws, and is charmed from moving
O dear father,
Make not too rash a trial of him, for
He’s gentle and not fearful.
What? I say,
My foot my tutor? Put thy sword up, traitor;
Who makest a show but darest not strike, thy conscience
Is so possess’d with guilt: come from thy ward,
For I can here disarm thee with this stick
And make thy weapon drop. 630
Beseech you, father.
Hence! hang not on my garments.
Sir, have pity;
I’ll be his surety.
Silence! one word more
Shall make me chide thee, if not hate thee. What!
An advocate for an imposter! hush!
Thou think’st there is no more such shapes as he,
Having seen but him and Caliban: foolish wench!
To the most of men this is a Caliban 640
And they to him are angels.
Are then most humble; I have no ambition
To see a goodlier man.
Come on; obey:
Thy nerves are in their infancy again
And have no vigour in them.
So they are;
My spirits, as in a dream, are all bound up.
My father’s loss, the weakness which I feel, 650
The wreck of all my friends, nor this man’s threats,
To whom I am subdued, are but light to me,
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.
[Aside] It works.
Thou hast done well, fine Ariel!
Follow me. 660
Hark what thou else shalt do me.
Be of comfort;
My father’s of a better nature, sir,
Than he appears by speech: this is unwonted
Which now came from him.
Thou shalt be free
As mountain winds: but then exactly do
All points of my command.
To the syllable.
Come, follow. Speak not for him. 670
SCENE I. Another part of the island.
Enter ALONSO, SEBASTIAN, ANTONIO, GONZALO, ADRIAN, FRANCISCO, and others
Beseech you, sir, be merry; you have cause,
So have we all, of joy; for our escape
Is much beyond our loss. Our hint of woe
Is common; every day some sailor’s wife,
The masters of some merchant and the merchant
Have just our theme of woe; but for the miracle,
I mean our preservation, few in millions
Can speak like us: then wisely, good sir, weigh
Our sorrow with our comfort.
Prithee, peace. 680
He receives comfort like cold porridge.
The visitor will not give him o’er so.
Look he’s winding up the watch of his wit;
by and by it will strike.
When every grief is entertain’d that’s offer’d,
Comes to the entertainer—
Dolour comes to him, indeed: you 690
have spoken truer than you purposed.
You have taken it wiselier than I meant you should.
Therefore, my lord,—
Fie, what a spendthrift is he of his tongue!
I prithee, spare.
Well, I have done: but yet,—
He will be talking.
Which, of he or Adrian, for a good
wager, first begins to crow?
The old cock. 700
Done. The wager?
Though this island seem to be desert,—
Ha, ha, ha! So, you’re paid.
Uninhabitable and almost inaccessible,—
He could not miss’t. 710
It must needs be of subtle, tender and delicate temperance.
Temperance was a delicate wench.
Ay, and a subtle; as he most learnedly delivered.
The air breathes upon us here most sweetly.
As if it had lungs and rotten ones.
Or as ‘twere perfumed by a fen.
Here is everything advantageous to life.
True; save means to live.
Of that there’s none, or little.
How lush and lusty the grass looks! how green! 720
The ground indeed is tawny.
With an eye of green in’t.
He misses not much.
No; he doth but mistake the truth totally.
But the rarity of it is,—which is indeed almost beyond credit,—
As many vouched rarities are.
That our garments, being, as they were, drenched in
the sea, hold notwithstanding their freshness and
glosses, being rather new-dyed than stained with 730
If but one of his pockets could speak, would it not
say he lies?
Ay, or very falsely pocket up his report
Methinks our garments are now as fresh as when we
put them on first in Afric, at the marriage of
the king’s fair daughter Claribel to the King of Tunis.
‘Twas a sweet marriage, and we prosper well in our return.
Tunis was never graced before with such a paragon to
their queen. 740
Not since widow Dido’s time.
Widow! a pox o’ that! How came that widow in? Widow
What if he had said ‘widower Aeneas’ too? Good Lord,
how you take it!
‘Widow Dido’ said you? you make me study of that:
she was of Carthage, not of Tunis.
This Tunis, sir, was Carthage.
I assure you, Carthage. 750
His word is more than the miraculous harp; he hath
raised the wall and houses too.
What impossible matter will he make easy next?
I think he will carry this island home in his pocket
and give it his son for an apple.
And, sowing the kernels of it in the sea, bring
forth more islands.
Why, in good time.
Sir, we were talking that our garments seem now 760
as fresh as when we were at Tunis at the marriage
of your daughter, who is now queen.
And the rarest that e’er came there.
Bate, I beseech you, widow Dido.
O, widow Dido! ay, widow Dido.
Is not, sir, my doublet as fresh as the first day I
wore it? I mean, in a sort.
That sort was well fished for.
When I wore it at your daughter’s marriage?
You cram these words into mine ears against 770
The stomach of my sense. Would I had never
Married my daughter there! for, coming thence,
My son is lost and, in my rate, she too,
Who is so far from Italy removed
I ne’er again shall see her. O thou mine heir
Of Naples and of Milan, what strange fish
Hath made his meal on thee?
Sir, he may live:
I saw him beat the surges under him,
And ride upon their backs; he trod the water, 780
Whose enmity he flung aside, and breasted
The surge most swoln that met him; his bold head
‘Bove the contentious waves he kept, and oar’d
Himself with his good arms in lusty stroke
To the shore, that o’er his wave-worn basis bow’d,
As stooping to relieve him: I not doubt
He came alive to land.
No, no, he’s gone.
Sir, you may thank yourself for this great loss,
That would not bless our Europe with your daughter, 790
But rather lose her to an African;
Where she at least is banish’d from your eye,
Who hath cause to wet the grief on’t.
You were kneel’d to and importuned otherwise
By all of us, and the fair soul herself
Weigh’d between loathness and obedience, at
Which end o’ the beam should bow. We have lost your son,
I fear, for ever: Milan and Naples have 800
More widows in them of this business’ making
Than we bring men to comfort them:
The fault’s your own.
So is the dear’st o’ the loss.
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.
And most chirurgeonly. 810
It is foul weather in us all, good sir,
When you are cloudy.
Had I plantation of this isle, my lord,—
He’ld sow’t with nettle-seed.
Or docks, or mallows.
And were the king on’t, what would I do?
‘Scape being drunk for want of wine.
I’ the commonwealth I would by contraries 820
Execute all things; for no kind of traffic
Would I admit; no name of magistrate;
Letters should not be known; riches, poverty,
And use of service, none; contract, succession,
Bourn, bound of land, tilth, vineyard, none;
No use of metal, corn, or wine, or oil;
No occupation; all men idle, all;
And women too, but innocent and pure;
Yet he would be king on’t. 830
The latter end of his commonwealth forgets the beginning.
All things in common nature should produce
Without sweat or endeavour: treason, felony,
Sword, pike, knife, gun, or need of any engine,
Would I not have; but nature should bring forth,
Of its own kind, all foison, all abundance,
To feed my innocent people.
No marrying ‘mong his subjects?
None, man; all idle: whores and knaves.
I would with such perfection govern, sir, 840
To excel the golden age.
God save his majesty!
Long live Gonzalo!
And,—do you mark me, sir?
Prithee, no more: thou dost talk nothing to me.
I do well believe your highness; and
did it to minister occasion to these gentlemen,
who are of such sensible and nimble lungs that
they always use to laugh at nothing.
‘Twas you we laughed at. 850
Who in this kind of merry fooling am nothing
to you: so you may continue and laugh at
What a blow was there given!
An it had not fallen flat-long.
You are gentlemen of brave metal; you would lift
the moon out of her sphere, if she would continue
in it five weeks without changing.
Enter ARIEL, invisible, playing solemn music
We would so, and then go a bat-fowling.
Nay, good my lord, be not angry. 860
No, I warrant you; I will not adventure
my discretion so weakly. Will you laugh
me asleep, for I am very heavy?
Go sleep, and hear us.
All sleep except ALONSO, SEBASTIAN, and ANTONIO
What, all so soon asleep! I wish mine eyes
Would, with themselves, shut up my thoughts: I find
They are inclined to do so.
Please you, sir,
Do not omit the heavy offer of it:
It seldom visits sorrow; when it doth, 870
It is a comforter.
We two, my lord,
Will guard your person while you take your rest,
And watch your safety.
Thank you. Wondrous heavy.
ALONSO sleeps. Exit ARIEL
What a strange drowsiness possesses them!
It is the quality o’ the climate.
Doth it not then our eyelids sink? I find not
Myself disposed to sleep. 880
Nor I; my spirits are nimble.
They fell together all, as by consent;
They dropp’d, as by a thunder-stroke. What might,
Worthy Sebastian? O, what might?—No more:—
And yet me thinks I see it in thy face,
What thou shouldst be: the occasion speaks thee, and
My strong imagination sees a crown
Dropping upon thy head.
What, art thou waking?
Do you not hear me speak? 890
I do; and surely
It is a sleepy language and thou speak’st
Out of thy sleep. What is it thou didst say?
This is a strange repose, to be asleep
With eyes wide open; standing, speaking, moving, And yet so fast asleep.
Thou let’st thy fortune sleep—die, rather; wink’st
Whiles thou art waking.
Thou dost snore distinctly; 900
There’s meaning in thy snores.
I am more serious than my custom: you
Must be so too, if heed me; which to do
Trebles thee o’er.
Well, I am standing water.
I’ll teach you how to flow.
Do so: to ebb
Hereditary sloth instructs me.
If you but knew how you the purpose cherish 910
Whiles thus you mock it! how, in stripping it,
You more invest it! Ebbing men, indeed,
Most often do so near the bottom run
By their own fear or sloth.
Prithee, say on:
The setting of thine eye and cheek proclaim
A matter from thee, and a birth indeed
Which throes thee much to yield.
Although this lord of weak remembrance, this, 920
Who shall be of as little memory
When he is earth’d, hath here almost persuade,—
For he’s a spirit of persuasion, only
Professes to persuade,—the king his son’s alive,
‘Tis as impossible that he’s undrown’d
And he that sleeps here swims.
I have no hope
That he’s undrown’d.
O, out of that ‘no hope’
What great hope have you! no hope that way is 930
Another way so high a hope that even
Ambition cannot pierce a wink beyond,
But doubt discovery there. Will you grant with me
That Ferdinand is drown’d?
Then, tell me,
Who’s the next heir of Naples?
She that is queen of Tunis; she that dwells
Ten leagues beyond man’s life; she that from Naples 940
Can have no note, unless the sun were post—
The man i’ the moon’s too slow—till new-born chins
Be rough and razorable; she that—from whom?
We all were sea-swallow’d, though some cast again,
And by that destiny to perform an act
Whereof what’s past is prologue, what to come
In yours and my discharge.
What stuff is this! how say you?
‘Tis true, my brother’s daughter’s queen of Tunis;
So is she heir of Naples; ‘twixt which regions 950
There is some space.
A space whose every cubit
Seems to cry out, ‘How shall that Claribel
Measure us back to Naples? Keep in Tunis,
And let Sebastian wake.’ Say, this were death
That now hath seized them; why, they were no worse
Than now they are. There be that can rule Naples
As well as he that sleeps; lords that can prate
As amply and unnecessarily
As this Gonzalo; I myself could make 960
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?
Methinks I do.
And how does your content
Tender your own good fortune?
You did supplant your brother Prospero.
And look how well my garments sit upon me; 970
Much feater than before: my brother’s servants
Were then my fellows; now they are my men.
But, for your conscience?
Ay, sir; where lies that? if ‘twere a kibe,
‘Twould put me to my slipper: but I feel not
This deity in my bosom: twenty consciences,
That stand ‘twixt me and Milan, candied be they
And melt ere they molest! Here lies your brother,
No better than the earth he lies upon,
If he were that which now he’s like, that’s dead; 980
Whom I, with this obedient steel, three inches of it,
Can lay to bed for ever; whiles you, doing thus,
To the perpetual wink for aye might put
This ancient morsel, this Sir Prudence, who
Should not upbraid our course. For all the rest,
They’ll take suggestion as a cat laps milk;
They’ll tell the clock to any business that
We say befits the hour.
Thy case, dear friend,
Shall be my precedent; as thou got’st Milan, 990
I’ll come by Naples. Draw thy sword: one stroke
Shall free thee from the tribute which thou payest;
And I the king shall love thee.
And when I rear my hand, do you the like,
To fall it on Gonzalo.
O, but one word.
They talk apart
Re-enter ARIEL, invisible
My master through his art foresees the danger
That you, his friend, are in; and sends me forth— 1000
For else his project dies—to keep them living.
Sings in GONZALO’s ear
While you here do snoring lie,
His time doth take.
If of life you keep a care,
Shake off slumber, and beware:
Then let us both be sudden.
Now, good angels
Preserve the king. 1010
Why, how now? ho, awake! Why are you drawn?
Wherefore this ghastly looking?
What’s the matter?
Whiles we stood here securing your repose,
Even now, we heard a hollow burst of bellowing
Like bulls, or rather lions: did’t not wake you?
It struck mine ear most terribly.
I heard nothing.
O, ‘twas a din to fright a monster’s ear, 1020
To make an earthquake! sure, it was the roar
Of a whole herd of lions.
Heard you this, Gonzalo?
Upon mine honour, sir, I heard a humming,
And that a strange one too, which did awake me:
I shaked you, sir, and cried: as mine eyes open’d,
I saw their weapons drawn: there was a noise,
That’s verily. ‘Tis best we stand upon our guard,
Or that we quit this place; let’s draw our weapons.
Lead off this ground; and let’s make further search 1030
For my poor son.
Heavens keep him from these beasts!
For he is, sure, i’ the island.
Prospero my lord shall know what I have done:
So, king, go safely on to seek thy son.
SCENE II. Another part of the island.
Enter CALIBAN with a burden of wood. A noise of thunder heard
All the infections that the sun sucks up
From bogs, fens, flats, on Prosper fall and make him
By inch-meal a disease! His spirits hear me
And yet I needs must curse. But they’ll nor pinch, 1040
Fright me with urchin—shows, pitch me i’ the mire,
Nor lead me, like a firebrand, in the dark
Out of my way, unless he bid ‘em; but
For every trifle are they set upon me;
Sometime like apes that mow and chatter at me
And after bite me, then like hedgehogs which
Lie tumbling in my barefoot way and mount
Their pricks at my footfall; sometime am I
All wound with adders who with cloven tongues
Do hiss me into madness. 1050
Lo, now, lo!
Here comes a spirit of his, and to torment me
For bringing wood in slowly. I’ll fall flat;
Perchance he will not mind me.
Here’s neither bush nor shrub, to bear off
any weather at all, and another storm brewing;
I hear it sing i’ the wind: yond same black
cloud, yond huge one, looks like a foul
bombard that would shed his liquor. If it should thunder
as it did before, I know not 1060
where to hide my head: yond same cloud cannot
choose but fall by pailfuls. What have we
here? a man or a fish? dead or alive? A fish:
he smells like a fish; a very ancient and fish-
like smell; a kind of not of the newest Poor-
John. A strange fish! Were I in England now,
as once I was, and had but this fish painted,
not a holiday fool there but would give a piece
of silver: there would this monster make a man; any
strange beast there makes a man: 1070
when they will not give a doit to relieve a lame
beggar, they will lazy out ten to see a dead
Indian. Legged like a man and his fins like
arms! Warm o’ my troth! I do now let loose
my opinion; hold it no longer: this is no fish,
but an islander, that hath lately suffered by a
Alas, the storm is come again! my best way is to
creep under his gaberdine; there is no other
shelter hereabouts: misery acquaints a man with 1080
strange bed-fellows. I will here shroud till the
dregs of the storm be past.
Enter STEPHANO, singing: a bottle in his hand
I shall no more to sea, to sea,
Here shall I die ashore—
This is a very scurvy tune to sing at a man’s
funeral: well, here’s my comfort.
The master, the swabber, the boatswain and I,
The gunner and his mate
Loved Mall, Meg and Marian and Margery,
But none of us cared for Kate; 1090
For she had a tongue with a tang,
Would cry to a sailor, Go hang!
She loved not the savour of tar nor of pitch,
Yet a tailor might scratch her where’er she did itch:
Then to sea, boys, and let her go hang!
This is a scurvy tune too: but here’s my comfort.
Do not torment me: Oh!
What’s the matter? Have we devils here? Do you put
tricks upon’s with savages and men of Ind, ha?
I have not scaped drowning to be afeard now of your 1100
four legs; for it hath been said, As proper a man as
ever went on four legs cannot make him give ground;
and it shall be said so again while Stephano
breathes at’s nostrils.
The spirit torments me; Oh!
This is some monster of the isle with four legs, who
hath got, as I take it, an ague. Where the devil
should he learn our language? I will give him some
relief, if it be but for that. if I can recover him
and keep him tame and get to Naples with him, he’s a 1110
present for any emperor that ever trod on neat’s leather.
Do not torment me, prithee; I’ll bring my wood home faster.
He’s in his fit now and does not talk after the
wisest. He shall taste of my bottle: if he have
never drunk wine afore will go near to remove his
fit. If I can recover him and keep him tame, I will
not take too much for him; he shall pay for him that
hath him, and that soundly.
Thou dost me yet but little hurt; thou wilt anon, 1120
I know it by thy trembling: now Prosper works upon thee.
Come on your ways; open your mouth; here is that
which will give language to you, cat: open your
mouth; this will shake your shaking, I can tell you,
and that soundly: you cannot tell who’s your friend:
open your chaps again.
I should know that voice: it should be—but he is
drowned; and these are devils: O defend me!
Four legs and two voices: a most delicate monster!
His forward voice now is to speak well of his
friend; his backward voice is to utter foul speeches 1130
and to detract. If all the wine in my bottle will
recover him, I will help his ague. Come. Amen! I
will pour some in thy other mouth.
Doth thy other mouth call me? Mercy, mercy! This is
a devil, and no monster: I will leave him; I have no
Stephano! If thou beest Stephano, touch me and
speak to me: for I am Trinculo—be not afeard—thy
good friend Trinculo. 1140
If thou beest Trinculo, come forth: I’ll pull thee
by the lesser legs: if any be Trinculo’s legs,
these are they. Thou art very Trinculo indeed! How
camest thou to be the siege of this moon-calf? Can
he vent Trinculos?
I took him to be killed with a thunder-stroke. But
art thou not drowned, Stephano? I hope now thou art
not drowned. Is the storm overblown? I hid me
under the dead moon-calf’s gaberdine for fear of
the storm. And art thou living, Stephano? O 1150
Stephano, two Neapolitans ‘scaped!
Prithee, do not turn me about; my stomach is not constant.
[Aside] These be fine things, an if they be not sprites.
That’s a brave god and bears celestial liquor.
I will kneel to him.
How didst thou ‘scape? How camest thou hither?
swear by this bottle how thou camest hither. I
escaped upon a butt of sack which the sailors
heaved o’erboard, by this bottle; which I made of
the bark of a tree with mine own hands since I was 1160
I’ll swear upon that bottle to be thy true subject;
for the liquor is not earthly.
Here; swear then how thou escapedst.
Swum ashore, man, like a duck: I can swim like a
duck, I’ll be sworn.
Here, kiss the book. Though thou canst swim like a
duck, thou art made like a goose.
O Stephano, hast any more of this?
The whole butt, man: my cellar is in a rock by the 1170
sea-side where my wine is hid. How now, moon-calf!
how does thine ague?
Hast thou not dropp’d from heaven?
Out o’ the moon, I do assure thee: I was the man i’
the moon when time was.
I have seen thee in her and I do adore thee:
My mistress show’d me thee and thy dog and thy bush.
Come, swear to that; kiss the book: I will furnish
it anon with new contents swear.
By this good light, this is a very shallow monster! 1180
I afeard of him! A very weak monster! The man i’
the moon! A most poor credulous monster! Well
drawn, monster, in good sooth!
I’ll show thee every fertile inch o’ th’ island;
And I will kiss thy foot: I prithee, be my god.
By this light, a most perfidious and drunken
monster! when ‘s god’s asleep, he’ll rob his bottle.
I’ll kiss thy foot; I’ll swear myself thy subject.
Come on then; down, and swear.
I shall laugh myself to death at this puppy-headed 1190
monster. A most scurvy monster! I could find in my
heart to beat him,—
But that the poor monster’s in drink: an abominable monster!
I’ll show thee the best springs; I’ll pluck thee berries;
I’ll fish for thee and get thee wood enough.
A plague upon the tyrant that I serve!
I’ll bear him no more sticks, but follow thee,
Thou wondrous man.
A most ridiculous monster, to make a wonder of a 1200
I prithee, let me bring thee where crabs grow;
And I with my long nails will dig thee pignuts;
Show thee a jay’s nest and instruct thee how
To snare the nimble marmoset; I’ll bring thee
To clustering filberts and sometimes I’ll get thee
Young scamels from the rock. Wilt thou go with me?
I prithee now, lead the way without any more
talking. Trinculo, the king and all our company
else being drowned, we will inherit here: here; 1210
bear my bottle: fellow Trinculo, we’ll fill him by and by again.
Farewell master; farewell, farewell!
A howling monster: a drunken monster!
No more dams I’ll make for fish
Nor fetch in firing
Nor scrape trencher, nor wash dish
‘Ban, ‘Ban, Cacaliban
Has a new master: get a new man. 1220
Freedom, hey-day! hey-day, freedom! freedom,
O brave monster! Lead the way.
SCENE I. Before PROSPERO’S Cell.
Enter FERDINAND, bearing a log
There be some sports are painful, and their labour
Delight in them sets off: some kinds of baseness
Are nobly undergone and most poor matters
Point to rich ends. This my mean task
Would be as heavy to me as odious, but
The mistress which I serve quickens what’s dead
And makes my labours pleasures: O, she is 1230
Ten times more gentle than her father’s crabbed,
And he’s composed of harshness. I must remove
Some thousands of these logs and pile them up,
Upon a sore injunction: my sweet mistress
Weeps when she sees me work, and says, such baseness
Had never like executor. I forget:
But these sweet thoughts do even refresh my labours,
Most busy lest, when I do it.
Enter MIRANDA; and PROSPERO at a distance, unseen
Alas, now, pray you,
Work not so hard: I would the lightning had 1240
Burnt up those logs that you are enjoin’d to pile!
Pray, set it down and rest you: when this burns,
‘Twill weep for having wearied you. My father
Is hard at study; pray now, rest yourself;
He’s safe for these three hours.
O most dear mistress,
The sun will set before I shall discharge
What I must strive to do.
If you’ll sit down,
I’ll bear your logs the while: pray, give me that; 1250
I’ll carry it to the pile.
No, precious creature;
I had rather crack my sinews, break my back,
Than you should such dishonour undergo,
While I sit lazy by.
It would become me
As well as it does you: and I should do it
With much more ease; for my good will is to it,
And yours it is against.
Poor worm, thou art infected! 1260
This visitation shows it.
You look wearily.
No, noble mistress;’tis fresh morning with me
When you are by at night. I do beseech you—
Chiefly that I might set it in my prayers—
What is your name?
Miranda.—O my father,
I have broke your hest to say so!
Indeed the top of admiration! worth 1270
What’s dearest to the world! Full many a lady
I have eyed with best regard and many a time
The harmony of their tongues hath into bondage
Brought my too diligent ear: for several virtues
Have I liked several women; never any
With so fun soul, but some defect in her
Did quarrel with the noblest grace she owed
And put it to the foil: but you, O you,
So perfect and so peerless, are created
Of every creature’s best! 1280
I do not know
One of my sex; no woman’s face remember,
Save, from my glass, mine own; nor have I seen
More that I may call men than you, good friend,
And my dear father: how features are abroad,
I am skilless of; but, by my modesty,
The jewel in my dower, I would not wish
Any companion in the world but you,
Nor can imagination form a shape,
Besides yourself, to like of. But I prattle 1290
Something too wildly and my father’s precepts
I therein do forget.
I am in my condition
A prince, Miranda; I do think, a king;
I would, not so!—and would no more endure
This wooden slavery than to suffer
The flesh-fly blow my mouth. Hear my soul speak:
The very instant that I saw you, did
My heart fly to your service; there resides,
To make me slave to it; and for your sake 1300
Am I this patient log—man.
Do you love me?
O heaven, O earth, bear witness to this sound
And crown what I profess with kind event
If I speak true! if hollowly, invert
What best is boded me to mischief! I
Beyond all limit of what else i’ the world
Do love, prize, honour you.
I am a fool
To weep at what I am glad of. 1310
Of two most rare affections! Heavens rain grace
On that which breeds between ‘em!
Wherefore weep you?
At mine unworthiness that dare not offer
What I desire to give, and much less take
What I shall die to want. But this is trifling;
And all the more it seeks to hide itself,
The bigger bulk it shows. Hence, bashful cunning!
And prompt me, plain and holy innocence! 1320
I am your wife, if you will marry me;
If not, I’ll die your maid: to be your fellow
You may deny me; but I’ll be your servant,
Whether you will or no.
My mistress, dearest;
And I thus humble ever.
My husband, then?
Ay, with a heart as willing
As bondage e’er of freedom: here’s my hand.
And mine, with my heart in’t; and now farewell 1330
Till half an hour hence.
A thousand thousand!
Exeunt FERDINAND and MIRANDA severally
So glad of this as they I cannot be,
Who are surprised withal; but my rejoicing
At nothing can be more. I’ll to my book,
For yet ere supper-time must I perform
Much business appertaining.
SCENE II. Another part of the island.
Enter CALIBAN, STEPHANO, and TRINCULO
Tell not me; when the butt is out, we will drink
water; not a drop before: therefore bear up, and
board ‘em. Servant-monster, drink to me. 1340
Servant-monster! the folly of this island! They
say there’s but five upon this isle: we are three
of them; if th’ other two be brained like us, the
Drink, servant-monster, when I bid thee: thy eyes
are almost set in thy head.
Where should they be set else? he were a brave
monster indeed, if they were set in his tail.
My man-monster hath drown’d his tongue in sack:
for my part, the sea cannot drown me; I swam, ere 1350
I could recover the shore, five and thirty leagues off
and on. By this light, thou shalt be my lieutenant,
monster, or my standard.
Your lieutenant, if you list; he’s no standard.
We’ll not run, Monsieur Monster.
Nor go neither; but you’ll lie like dogs and yet say
Moon-calf, speak once in thy life, if thou beest a
How does thy honour? Let me lick thy shoe. 1360
I’ll not serve him; he’s not valiant.
Thou liest, most ignorant monster: I am in case to
justle a constable. Why, thou deboshed fish thou,
was there ever man a coward that hath drunk so much
sack as I to-day? Wilt thou tell a monstrous lie,
being but half a fish and half a monster?
Lo, how he mocks me! wilt thou let him, my lord?
‘Lord’ quoth he! That a monster should be such a natural!
Lo, lo, again! bite him to death, I prithee.
Trinculo, keep a good tongue in your head: if you 1370
prove a mutineer,—the next tree! The poor monster’s
my subject and he shall not suffer indignity.
I thank my noble lord. Wilt thou be pleased to
hearken once again to the suit I made to thee?
Marry, will I kneel and repeat it; I will stand,
and so shall Trinculo.
Enter ARIEL, invisible
As I told thee before, I am subject to a tyrant, a sorcerer, that by his cunning hath cheated me of the island.
Thou liest, thou jesting monkey, thou: I would my 1380
valiant master would destroy thee! I do not lie.
Trinculo, if you trouble him any more in’s tale, by
this hand, I will supplant some of your teeth.
Why, I said nothing.
Mum, then, and no more. Proceed.
I say, by sorcery he got this isle;
From me he got it. if thy greatness will
Revenge it on him,—for I know thou darest,
But this thing dare not,—
That’s most certain. 1390
Thou shalt be lord of it and I’ll serve thee.
How now shall this be compassed?
Canst thou bring me to the party?
Yea, yea, my lord: I’ll yield him thee asleep,
Where thou mayst knock a nail into his bead.
Thou liest; thou canst not.
What a pied ninny’s this! Thou scurvy patch!
I do beseech thy greatness, give him blows
And take his bottle from him: when that’s gone
He shall drink nought but brine; for I’ll not show him 1400
Where the quick freshes are.
Trinculo, run into no further danger:
interrupt the monster one word further, and,
by this hand, I’ll turn my mercy out o’ doors
and make a stock-fish of thee.
Why, what did I? I did nothing. I’ll go farther off.
Didst thou not say he lied?
Do I so? take thou that.
As you like this, give me the lie another time. 1410
I did not give the lie. Out o’ your
wits and bearing too? A pox o’ your bottle!
this can sack and drinking do. A murrain on
your monster, and the devil take your fingers!
Ha, ha, ha!
Now, forward with your tale. Prithee, stand farther off.
Beat him enough: after a little time
I’ll beat him too.
Stand farther. Come, proceed.
Why, as I told thee, ‘tis a custom with him, 1420
I’ th’ afternoon to sleep: there thou mayst brain him,
Having first seized his books, or with a log
Batter his skull, or paunch him with a stake,
Or cut his wezand with thy knife. Remember
First to possess his books; for without them
He’s but a sot, as I am, nor hath not
One spirit to command: they all do hate him
As rootedly as I. Burn but his books.
He has brave utensils,—for so he calls them—
Which when he has a house, he’ll deck withal 1430
And that most deeply to consider is
The beauty of his daughter; he himself
Calls her a nonpareil: I never saw a woman,
But only Sycorax my dam and she;
But she as far surpasseth Sycorax
As great’st does least.
Is it so brave a lass?
Ay, lord; she will become thy bed, I warrant.
And bring thee forth brave brood.
Monster, I will kill this man: his daughter and I 1440
will be king and queen—save our graces!—and
Trinculo and thyself shall be viceroys. Dost thou
like the plot, Trinculo?
Give me thy hand: I am sorry I beat thee; but,
while thou livest, keep a good tongue in thy head.
Within this half hour will he be asleep:
Wilt thou destroy him then?
Ay, on mine honour.
This will I tell my master. 1450
Thou makest me merry; I am full of pleasure:
Let us be jocund: will you troll the catch
You taught me but while-ere?
At thy request, monster, I will do reason, any
reason. Come on, Trinculo, let us sing.
Flout ‘em and scout ‘em
And scout ‘em and flout ‘em
Thought is free.
That’s not the tune.
ARIEL plays the tune on a tabour and pipe 1460
What is this same?
This is the tune of our catch, played by the picture
If thou beest a man, show thyself in thy likeness:
if thou beest a devil, take’t as thou list.
O, forgive me my sins!
He that dies pays all debts: I defy thee. Mercy upon us!
Art thou afeard?
No, monster, not I.
Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises, 1470
Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again: and then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open and show riches
Ready to drop upon me that, when I waked,
I cried to dream again.
This will prove a brave kingdom to me, where I shall
have my music for nothing. 1480
When Prospero is destroyed.
That shall be by and by: I remember the story.
The sound is going away; let’s follow it, and
after do our work.
Lead, monster; we’ll follow. I would I could see
this tabourer; he lays it on.
Wilt come? I’ll follow, Stephano.
SCENE III. Another part of the island.
Enter ALONSO, SEBASTIAN, ANTONIO, GONZALO, ADRIAN, FRANCISCO, and others
By’r lakin, I can go no further, sir;
My old bones ache: here’s a maze trod indeed
Through forth-rights and meanders! By your patience, 1490
I needs must rest me.
Old lord, I cannot blame thee,
Who am myself attach’d with weariness,
To the dulling of my spirits: sit down, and rest.
Even here I will put off my hope and keep it
No longer for my flatterer: he is drown’d
Whom thus we stray to find, and the sea mocks
Our frustrate search on land. Well, let him go.
[Aside to SEBASTIAN]
I am right glad that he’s so out of hope.
Do not, for one repulse, forego the purpose 1500
That you resolved to effect.
[Aside to ANTONIO] The next advantage
Will we take throughly.
[Aside to SEBASTIAN] Let it be to-night;
For, now they are oppress’d with travel, they
Will not, nor cannot, use such vigilance
As when they are fresh.
[Aside to ANTONIO] I say, to-night: no more.
Solemn and strange music
What harmony is this? My good friends, hark! 1510
Marvellous sweet music!
Enter PROSPERO above, invisible. Enter several
strange Shapes, bringing in a banquet; they dance about it with gentle actions of salutation; and, inviting the King, &c. to eat, they depart
Give us kind keepers, heavens! What were these?
A living drollery. Now I will believe
That there are unicorns, that in Arabia
There is one tree, the phoenix’ throne, one phoenix
At this hour reigning there.
I’ll believe both;
And what does else want credit, come to me,
And I’ll be sworn ‘tis true: travellers ne’er did lie,
Though fools at home condemn ‘em. 1520
If in Naples
I should report this now, would they believe me?
If I should say, I saw such islanders—
For, certes, these are people of the island—
Who, though they are of monstrous shape, yet, note,
Their manners are more gentle-kind than of
Our human generation you shall find
Many, nay, almost any.
[Aside] Honest lord,
Thou hast said well; for some of you there present 1530
Are worse than devils.
I cannot too much muse
Such shapes, such gesture and such sound, expressing,
Although they want the use of tongue, a kind
Of excellent dumb discourse.
[Aside] Praise in departing.
They vanish’d strangely.
No matter, since
They have left their viands behind; for we have stomachs.
Will’t please you taste of what is here? 1540
Faith, sir, you need not fear. When we were boys,
Who would believe that there were mountaineers
Dew-lapp’d like bulls, whose throats had hanging at ‘em
Wallets of flesh? or that there were such men
Whose heads stood in their breasts? which now we find
Each putter-out of five for one will bring us
Good warrant of.
I will stand to and feed,
Although my last: no matter, since I feel 1550
The best is past. Brother, my lord the duke,
Stand to and do as we.
Thunder and lightning. Enter ARIEL, like a harpy; claps his wings upon the table; and, with a quaint device, the banquet vanishes
You are three men of sin, whom Destiny,
That hath to instrument this lower world
And what is in’t, the never-surfeited sea
Hath caused to belch up you; and on this island
Where man doth not inhabit; you ‘mongst men
Being most unfit to live. I have made you mad;
And even with such-like valour men hang and drown
Their proper selves. 1560
ALONSO, SEBASTIAN &c. draw their swords
You fools! I and my fellows
Are ministers of Fate: the elements,
Of whom your swords are temper’d, may as well
Wound the loud winds, or with bemock’d-at stabs
Kill the still-closing waters, as diminish
One dowle that’s in my plume: my fellow-ministers
Are like invulnerable. If you could hurt,
Your swords are now too massy for your strengths
And will not be uplifted. But remember—
For that’s my business to you—that you three 1570
From Milan did supplant good Prospero;
Exposed unto the sea, which hath requit it,
Him and his innocent child: for which foul deed
The powers, delaying, not forgetting, have
Incensed the seas and shores, yea, all the creatures,
Against your peace. Thee of thy son, Alonso,
They have bereft; and do pronounce by me:
Lingering perdition, worse than any death
Can be at once, shall step by step attend
You and your ways; whose wraths to guard you from— 1580
Which here, in this most desolate isle, else falls
Upon your heads—is nothing but heart-sorrow
And a clear life ensuing.
He vanishes in thunder; then, to soft music enter the Shapes again, and dance, with mocks and mows, and carrying out the table
Bravely the figure of this harpy hast thou
Perform’d, my Ariel; a grace it had, devouring:
Of my instruction hast thou nothing bated
In what thou hadst to say: so, with good life
And observation strange, my meaner ministers
Their several kinds have done. My high charms work
And these mine enemies are all knit up 1590
In their distractions; they now are in my power;
And in these fits I leave them, while I visit
Young Ferdinand, whom they suppose is drown’d,
And his and mine loved darling.
I’ the name of something holy, sir, why stand you
In this strange stare?
O, it is monstrous, monstrous:
Methought the billows spoke and told me of it;
The winds did sing it to me, and the thunder,
That deep and dreadful organ-pipe, pronounced 1600
The name of Prosper: it did bass my trespass.
Therefore my son i’ the ooze is bedded, and
I’ll seek him deeper than e’er plummet sounded
And with him there lie mudded.
But one fiend at a time,
I’ll fight their legions o’er.
I’ll be thy second.
Exeunt SEBASTIAN, and ANTONIO
All three of them are desperate: their great guilt,
Like poison given to work a great time after,
Now ‘gins to bite the spirits. I do beseech you 1610
That are of suppler joints, follow them swiftly
And hinder them from what this ecstasy
May now provoke them to.
Follow, I pray you.
SCENE I. Before PROSPERO’S cell.
Enter PROSPERO, FERDINAND, and MIRANDA
If I have too austerely punish’d you,
Your compensation makes amends, for I
Have given you here a third of mine own life,
Or that for which I live; who once again
I tender to thy hand: all thy vexations
Were but my trials of thy love and thou 1620
Hast strangely stood the test here, afore Heaven,
I ratify this my rich gift. O Ferdinand,
Do not smile at me that I boast her off,
For thou shalt find she will outstrip all praise
And make it halt behind her.
I do believe it
Against an oracle.
Then, as my gift and thine own acquisition
Worthily purchased take my daughter: but
If thou dost break her virgin-knot before 1630
All sanctimonious ceremonies may
With full and holy rite be minister’d,
No sweet aspersion shall the heavens let fall
To make this contract grow: but barren hate,
Sour-eyed disdain and discord shall bestrew
The union of your bed with weeds so loathly
That you shall hate it both: therefore take heed,
As Hymen’s lamps shall light you.
As I hope
For quiet days, fair issue and long life, 1640
With such love as ‘tis now, the murkiest den,
The most opportune place, the strong’st suggestion.
Our worser genius can, shall never melt
Mine honour into lust, to take away
The edge of that day’s celebration
When I shall think: or Phoebus’ steeds are founder’d,
Or Night kept chain’d below.
Sit then and talk with her; she is thine own.
What, Ariel! my industrious servant, Ariel! 1650
What would my potent master? here I am.
Thou and thy meaner fellows your last service
Did worthily perform; and I must use you
In such another trick. Go bring the rabble,
O’er whom I give thee power, here to this place:
Incite them to quick motion; for I must
Bestow upon the eyes of this young couple
Some vanity of mine art: it is my promise,
And they expect it from me.
Ay, with a twink.
Before you can say ‘come’ and ‘go,’
And breathe twice and cry ‘so, so,’
Each one, tripping on his toe,
Will be here with mop and mow.
Do you love me, master? no?
Dearly my delicate Ariel. Do not approach
Till thou dost hear me call.
Well, I conceive.
Look thou be true; do not give dalliance 1670
Too much the rein: the strongest oaths are straw
To the fire i’ the blood: be more abstemious,
Or else, good night your vow!
I warrant you sir;
The white cold virgin snow upon my heart
Abates the ardour of my liver.
Now come, my Ariel! bring a corollary,
Rather than want a spirit: appear and pertly!
No tongue! all eyes! be silent. 1680
Ceres, most bounteous lady, thy rich leas
Of wheat, rye, barley, vetches, oats and pease;
Thy turfy mountains, where live nibbling sheep,
And flat meads thatch’d with stover, them to keep;
Thy banks with pioned and twilled brims,
Which spongy April at thy hest betrims,
To make cold nymphs chaste crowns; and thy broom-groves,
Whose shadow the dismissed bachelor loves,
Being lass-lorn: thy pole-clipt vineyard;
And thy sea-marge, sterile and rocky-hard, 1690
Where thou thyself dost air;—the queen o’ the sky,
Whose watery arch and messenger am I,
Bids thee leave these, and with her sovereign grace,
Here on this grass-plot, in this very place,
To come and sport: her peacocks fly amain:
Approach, rich Ceres, her to entertain.
Hail, many-colour’d messenger, that ne’er
Dost disobey the wife of Jupiter;
Who with thy saffron wings upon my flowers
Diffusest honey-drops, refreshing showers, 1700
And with each end of thy blue bow dost crown
My bosky acres and my unshrubb’d down,
Rich scarf to my proud earth; why hath thy queen
Summon’d me hither, to this short-grass’d green?
A contract of true love to celebrate;
And some donation freely to estate
On the blest lovers.
Tell me, heavenly bow,
If Venus or her son, as thou dost know,
Do now attend the queen? Since they did plot 1710
The means that dusky Dis my daughter got,
Her and her blind boy’s scandal’d company
I have forsworn.
Of her society
Be not afraid: I met her deity
Cutting the clouds towards Paphos and her son
Dove-drawn with her. Here thought they to have done
Some wanton charm upon this man and maid,
Whose vows are, that no bed-right shall be paid
Till Hymen’s torch be lighted: but vain; 1720
Mars’s hot minion is returned again;
Her waspish-headed son has broke his arrows,
Swears he will shoot no more but play with sparrows
And be a boy right out.
High’st queen of state,
Great Juno, comes; I know her by her gait.
How does my bounteous sister? Go with me
To bless this twain, that they may prosperous be
And honour’d in their issue.
Honour, riches, marriage-blessing, 1730
Long continuance, and increasing,
Hourly joys be still upon you!
Juno sings her blessings upon you.
Earth’s increase, foison plenty,
Barns and garners never empty,
Vines and clustering bunches growing,
Plants with goodly burthen bowing;
Spring come to you at the farthest
In the very end of harvest!
Scarcity and want shall shun you; 1740
Ceres’ blessing so is on you.
This is a most majestic vision, and
Harmoniously charmingly. May I be bold
To think these spirits?
Spirits, which by mine art
I have from their confines call’d to enact
My present fancies.
Let me live here ever;
So rare a wonder’d father and a wife
Makes this place Paradise. 1750
Juno and Ceres whisper, and send Iris on employment
Sweet, now, silence!
Juno and Ceres whisper seriously;
There’s something else to do: hush, and be mute,
Or else our spell is marr’d.
You nymphs, call’d Naiads, of the windring brooks,
With your sedged crowns and ever-harmless looks,
Leave your crisp channels and on this green land
Answer your summons; Juno does command:
Come, temperate nymphs, and help to celebrate 1760
A contract of true love; be not too late.
Enter certain Nymphs
You sunburnt sicklemen, of August weary,
Come hither from the furrow and be merry:
Make holiday; your rye-straw hats put on
And these fresh nymphs encounter every one
In country footing.
Enter certain Reapers, properly habited: they join with the Nymphs in a graceful dance; towards the end whereof PROSPERO starts suddenly, and speaks; after which, to a strange, hollow, and confused noise, they heavily vanish
[Aside] I had forgot that foul conspiracy
Of the beast Caliban and his confederates
Against my life: the minute of their plot
Is almost come. 1770
To the Spirits
Well done! avoid; no more!
This is strange: your father’s in some passion
That works him strongly.
Never till this day
Saw I him touch’d with anger so distemper’d.
You do look, my son, in a moved sort,
As if you were dismay’d: be cheerful, sir.
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air: 1780
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Ye 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 a sleep. Sir, I am vex’d;
Bear with my weakness; my, brain is troubled:
Be not disturb’d with my infirmity: 1790
If you be pleased, retire into my cell
And there repose: a turn or two I’ll walk,
To still my beating mind.
FERDINAND AND MIRANDA
We wish your peace.
Come with a thought I thank thee, Ariel: come.
Thy thoughts I cleave to. What’s thy pleasure?
We must prepare to meet with Caliban.
Ay, my commander: when I presented Ceres,
I thought to have told thee of it, but I fear’d
Lest I might anger thee. 1800
Say again, where didst thou leave these varlets?
I told you, sir, they were red-hot with drinking;
So fun of valour that they smote the air
For breathing in their faces; beat the ground
For kissing of their feet; yet always bending
Towards their project. Then I beat my tabour;
At which, like unback’d colts, they prick’d their ears,
Advanced their eyelids, lifted up their noses
As they smelt music: so I charm’d their ears
That calf-like they my lowing follow’d through 1810
Tooth’d briers, sharp furzes, pricking goss and thorns,
Which entered their frail shins: at last I left them
I’ the filthy-mantled pool beyond your cell,
There dancing up to the chins, that the foul lake
O’erstunk their feet.
This was well done, my bird.
Thy shape invisible retain thou still:
The trumpery in my house, go bring it hither,
For stale to catch these thieves.
I go, I go. 1820
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.
Re-enter ARIEL, loaden with glistering apparel, &c.
Come, hang them on this line.
PROSPERO and ARIEL remain invisible.
Enter CALIBAN, STEPHANO, and TRINCULO, all wet
Pray you, tread softly, that the blind mole may not
Hear a foot fall: we now are near his cell.
Monster, your fairy, which you say is 1830
a harmless fairy, has done little better than
played the Jack with us.
Monster, I do smell all horse-piss; at
which my nose is in great indignation.
So is mine. Do you hear, monster? If I should take
a displeasure against you, look you,—
Thou wert but a lost monster.
Good my lord, give me thy favour still.
Be patient, for the prize I’ll bring thee to
Shall hoodwink this mischance: therefore speak softly. 1840
All’s hush’d as midnight yet.
Ay, but to lose our bottles in the pool,—
There is not only disgrace and dishonour in that,
monster, but an infinite loss.
That’s more to me than my wetting: yet this is your
harmless fairy, monster.
I will fetch off my bottle, though I be o’er ears
for my labour.
Prithee, my king, be quiet. Seest thou here,
This is the mouth o’ the cell: no noise, and enter. 1850
Do that good mischief which may make this island
Thine own for ever, and I, thy Caliban,
For aye thy foot-licker.
Give me thy hand. I do begin to have bloody thoughts.
O king Stephano! O peer! O worthy Stephano! Look
what a wardrobe here is for thee!
Let it alone, thou fool; it is but trash.
O, ho, monster! we know what belongs to a frippery.
O king Stephano!
Put off that gown, Trinculo; by this hand, I’ll have 1860
Thy grace shall have it.
The dropsy drown this fool I what do you mean
To dote thus on such luggage? Let’s alone
And do the murder first: if he awake,
From toe to crown he’ll fill our skins with pinches,
Make us strange stuff.
Be you quiet, monster. Mistress line,
is not this my jerkin? Now is the jerkin under
the line: now, jerkin, you are like to lose your 1870
hair and prove a bald jerkin.
Do, do: we steal by line and level, an’t like your grace.
I thank thee for that jest; here’s a garment for’t:
wit shall not go unrewarded while I am king of this
country. ‘Steal by line and level’ is an excellent
pass of pate; there’s another garment for’t.
Monster, come, put some lime upon your fingers, and
away with the rest.
I will have none on’t: we shall lose our time,
And all be turn’d to barnacles, or to apes 1880
With foreheads villanous low.
Monster, lay-to your fingers: help to bear this
away where my hogshead of wine is, or I’ll turn you
out of my kingdom: go to, carry this.
Ay, and this.
A noise of hunters heard. Enter divers Spirits, in shape of dogs and hounds, and hunt them about, PROSPERO and ARIEL setting them on
Hey, Mountain, hey!
Silver I there it goes, Silver!
Fury, Fury! there, Tyrant, there! hark! hark!
CALIBAN, STEPHANO, and TRINCULO, are driven out
Go charge my goblins that they grind their joints 1890
With dry convulsions, shorten up their sinews
With aged cramps, and more pinch-spotted make them
Than pard or cat o’ mountain.
Hark, they roar!
Let them be hunted soundly. At this hour
Lie at my mercy all mine enemies:
Shortly shall all my labours end, and thou
Shalt have the air at freedom: for a little
Follow, and do me service.
SCENE I. Before PROSPERO’S cell.
Enter PROSPERO in his magic robes, and ARIEL
Now does my project gather to a head: 1900
My charms crack not; my spirits obey; and time
Goes upright with his carriage. How’s the day?
On the sixth hour; at which time, my lord,
You said our work should cease.
I did say so,
When first I raised the tempest. Say, my spirit,
How fares the king and’s followers?
In the same fashion as you gave in charge,
Just as you left them; all prisoners, sir, 1910
In the line-grove which weather-fends your cell;
They cannot budge till your release. The king,
His brother and yours, abide all three distracted
And the remainder mourning over them,
Brimful of sorrow and dismay; but chiefly
Him that you term’d, sir, ‘The good old lord Gonzalo;’
His tears run down his beard, like winter’s drops
From eaves of reeds. Your charm so strongly works ‘em
That if you now beheld them, your affections
Would become tender. 1920
Dost thou think so, spirit?
Mine would, sir, were I human.
And mine shall.
Hast thou, which art but air, a touch, a feeling
Of their afflictions, and shall not myself,
One of their kind, that relish all as sharply,
Passion as they, be kindlier moved than thou art?
Though with their high wrongs I am struck to the quick,
Yet with my nobler reason ‘gaitist my fury
Do I take part: the rarer action is 1930
In virtue than in vengeance: they being penitent,
The sole drift of my purpose doth extend
Not a frown further. Go release them, Ariel:
My charms I’ll break, their senses I’ll restore,
And they shall be themselves.
I’ll fetch them, sir.
Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes and groves,
And ye that on the sands with printless foot
Do chase the ebbing Neptune and do fly him
When he comes back; you demi-puppets that 1940
By moonshine do the green sour ringlets make,
Whereof the ewe not bites, and you whose pastime
Is to make midnight mushrooms, that rejoice
To hear the solemn curfew; by whose aid,
Weak masters though ye be, I have bedimm’d
The noontide sun, call’d forth the mutinous winds,
And ‘twixt the green sea and the azured vault
Set roaring war: to the dread rattling thunder
Have I given fire and rifted Jove’s stout oak
With his own bolt; the strong-based promontory 1950
Have I made shake and by the spurs pluck’d up
The pine and cedar: graves at my command
Have waked their sleepers, oped, and let ‘em forth
By my so potent art. But this rough magic
I here abjure, and, when I have required
Some heavenly music, which even now I do,
To work mine end upon their senses that
This airy charm is for, I’ll break my staff,
Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,
And deeper than did ever plummet sound 1960
I’ll drown my book.
Re-enter ARIEL before: then ALONSO, with a frantic gesture, attended by GONZALO; SEBASTIAN and ANTONIO in like manner, attended by ADRIAN and FRANCISCO they all enter the circle which PROSPERO had made,and there stand charmed; which PROSPERO observing, speaks:
A solemn air and the best comforter
To an unsettled fancy cure thy brains,
Now useless, boil’d within thy skull! There stand,
For you are spell-stopp’d.
Holy Gonzalo, honourable man,
Mine eyes, even sociable to the show of thine,
Fall fellowly drops. The charm dissolves apace,
And as the morning steals upon the night, 1970
Melting the darkness, so their rising senses
Begin to chase the ignorant fumes that mantle
Their clearer reason. O good Gonzalo,
My true preserver, and a loyal sir
To him you follow’st! I will pay thy graces
Home both in word and deed. Most cruelly
Didst thou, Alonso, use me and my daughter:
Thy brother was a furtherer in the act.
Thou art pinch’d fort now, Sebastian. Flesh and blood,
You, brother mine, that entertain’d ambition, 1980
Expell’d remorse and nature; who, with Sebastian,
Whose inward pinches therefore are most strong,
Would here have kill’d your king; I do forgive thee,
Unnatural though thou art. Their understanding
Begins to swell, and the approaching tide
Will shortly fill the reasonable shore
That now lies foul and muddy. Not one of them
That yet looks on me, or would know me Ariel,
Fetch me the hat and rapier in my cell:
I will discase me, and myself present 1990
As I was sometime Milan: quickly, spirit;
Thou shalt ere long be free.
ARIEL sings and helps to attire him
Where the bee sucks, there suck I:
In a cowslip’s bell I lie;
There I couch when owls do cry.
On the bat’s back I do fly
After summer merrily.
Merrily, merrily shall I live now
Under the blossom that hangs on the bough.
Why, that’s my dainty Ariel! I shall miss thee: 2000
But yet thou shalt have freedom: so, so, so.
To the king’s ship, invisible as thou art:
There shalt thou find the mariners asleep
Under the hatches; the master and the boatswain
Being awake, enforce them to this place,
And presently, I prithee.
I drink the air before me, and return
Or ere your pulse twice beat.
All torment, trouble, wonder and amazement
Inhabits here: some heavenly power guide us 2010
Out of this fearful country!
Behold, sir king,
The wronged Duke of Milan, Prospero:
For more assurance that a living prince
Does now speak to thee, I embrace thy body;
And to thee and thy company I bid
A hearty welcome.
Whether thou best he or no,
Or some enchanted trifle to abuse me,
As late I have been, I not know: thy pulse 2020
Beats as of flesh and blood; and, since I saw thee,
The affliction of my mind amends, with which,
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?
First, noble friend,
Let me embrace thine age, whose honour cannot
Be measured or confined. 2030
Whether this be
Or be not, I’ll not swear.
You do yet taste
Some subtilties o’ the isle, that will not let you
Believe things certain. Welcome, my friends all!
Aside to SEBASTIAN and ANTONIO
But you, my brace of lords, were I so minded,
I here could pluck his highness’ frown upon you
And justify you traitors: at this time
I will tell no tales.
The devil speaks in him. 2040
For you, most wicked sir, whom to call brother
Would even infect my mouth, I do forgive
Thy rankest fault; all of them; and require
My dukedom of thee, which perforce, I know,
Thou must restore.
If thou be’st Prospero,
Give us particulars of thy preservation;
How thou hast met us here, who three hours since
Were wreck’d upon this shore; where I have lost— 2050
How sharp the point of this remembrance is!—
My dear son Ferdinand.
I am woe for’t, sir.
Irreparable is the loss, and patience
Says it is past her cure.
I rather think
You have not sought her help, of whose soft grace
For the like loss I have her sovereign aid
And rest myself content.
You the like loss! 2060
As great to me as late; and, supportable
To make the dear loss, have I means much weaker
Than you may call to comfort you, for I
Have lost my daughter.
O heavens, that they were living both in Naples,
The king and queen there! that they were, I wish
Myself were mudded in that oozy bed
Where my son lies. When did you lose your daughter?
In this last tempest. I perceive these lords 2070
At this encounter do so much admire
That they devour their reason and scarce think
Their eyes do offices of truth, their words
Are natural breath: but, howsoe’er you have
Been justled from your senses, know for certain
That I am Prospero and that very duke
Which was thrust forth of Milan, who most strangely
Upon this shore, where you were wreck’d, was landed,
To be the lord on’t. No more yet of this;
For ‘tis a chronicle of day by day, 2080
Not a relation for a breakfast nor
Befitting this first meeting. Welcome, sir;
This cell’s my court: here have I few attendants
And subjects none abroad: pray you, look in.
My dukedom since you have given me again,
I will requite you with as good a thing;
At least bring forth a wonder, to content ye
As much as me my dukedom.
Here PROSPERO discovers FERDINAND and MIRANDA playing at chess
Sweet lord, you play me false.
No, my dear’st love, 2090
I would not for the world.
Yes, for a score of kingdoms you should wrangle,
And I would call it, fair play.
If this prove
A vision of the Island, one dear son
Shall I twice lose.
A most high miracle!
Though the seas threaten, they are merciful;
I have cursed them without cause.
Now all the blessings 2100
Of a glad father compass thee about!
Arise, and say how thou camest here.
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in’t!
‘Tis new to thee.
What is this maid with whom thou wast at play?
Your eld’st acquaintance cannot be three hours:
Is she the goddess that hath sever’d us, 2110
And brought us thus together?
Sir, she is mortal;
But by immortal Providence she’s mine:
I chose her when I could not ask my father
For his advice, nor thought I had one. She
Is daughter to this famous Duke of Milan,
Of whom so often I have heard renown,
But never saw before; of whom I have
Received a second life; and second father
This lady makes him to me. 2120
I am hers:
But, O, how oddly will it sound that I
Must ask my child forgiveness!
There, sir, stop:
Let us not burthen our remembrance with
A heaviness that’s gone.
I have inly wept,
Or should have spoke ere this. Look down, you god,
And on this couple drop a blessed crown!
For it is you that have chalk’d forth the way 2130
Which brought us hither.
I say, Amen, Gonzalo!
Was Milan thrust from Milan, that his issue
Should become kings of Naples? O, rejoice
Beyond a common joy, and set it down
With gold on lasting pillars: In one voyage
Did Claribel her husband find at Tunis,
And Ferdinand, her brother, found a wife
Where he himself was lost, Prospero his dukedom
In a poor isle and all of us ourselves 2140
When no man was his own.
To FERDINAND and MIRANDA
Give me your hands:
Let grief and sorrow still embrace his heart
That doth not wish you joy!
Be it so! Amen!
Re-enter ARIEL, with the Master and Boatswain amazedly following
O, look, sir, look, sir! here is more of us:
I prophesied, if a gallows were on land,
This fellow could not drown. Now, blasphemy,
That swear’st grace o’erboard, not an oath on shore?
Hast thou no mouth by land? What is the news? 2150
The best news is, that we have safely found
Our king and company; the next, our ship—
Which, but three glasses since, we gave out split—
Is tight and yare and bravely rigg’d as when
We first put out to sea.
[Aside to PROSPERO]
Sir, all this service
Have I done since I went.
[Aside to ARIEL]
My tricksy spirit!
These are not natural events; they strengthen
From strange to stranger. Say, how came you hither? 2160
If I did think, sir, I were well awake,
I’ld strive to tell you. We were dead of sleep,
And—how we know not—all clapp’d under hatches;
Where but even now with strange and several noises
Of roaring, shrieking, howling, jingling chains,
And more diversity of sounds, all horrible,
We were awaked; straightway, at liberty;
Where we, in all her trim, freshly beheld
Our royal, good and gallant ship, our master
Capering to eye her: on a trice, so please you, 2170
Even in a dream, were we divided from them
And were brought moping hither.
[Aside to PROSPERO]
Was’t well done?
[Aside to ARIEL]
Bravely, my diligence. Thou shalt be free.
This is as strange a maze as e’er men trod
And there is in this business more than nature
Was ever conduct of: some oracle
Must rectify our knowledge.
Sir, my liege,
Do not infest your mind with beating on 2180
The strangeness of this business; at pick’d leisure
Which shall be shortly, single I’ll resolve you,
Which to you shall seem probable, of every
These happen’d accidents; till when, be cheerful
And think of each thing well.
[Aside to ARIEL]
Come hither, spirit:
Set Caliban and his companions free;
Untie the spell.
How fares my gracious sir?
There are yet missing of your company 2190
Some few odd lads that you remember not.
Re-enter ARIEL, driving in CALIBAN, STEPHANO and TRINCULO, in their stolen apparel
Every man shift for all the rest, and
let no man take care for himself; for all is
but fortune. Coragio, bully-monster, coragio!
If these be true spies which I wear in my head,
here’s a goodly sight.
O Setebos, these be brave spirits indeed!
How fine my master is! I am afraid
He will chastise me.
What things are these, my lord Antonio?
Will money buy ‘em? 2200
Very like; one of them
Is a plain fish, and, no doubt, marketable.
Mark but the badges of these men, my lords,
Then say if they be true. This mis-shapen knave,
His mother was a witch, and one so strong
That could control the moon, make flows and ebbs,
And deal in her command without her power.
These three have robb’d me; and this demi-devil—
For he’s a bastard one—had plotted with them
To take my life. Two of these fellows you 2210
Must know and own; this thing of darkness!
I shall be pinch’d to death.
Is not this Stephano, my drunken butler?
He is drunk now: where had he wine?
And Trinculo is reeling ripe: where should they
Find this grand liquor that hath gilded ‘em?
How camest thou in this pickle?
I have been in such a pickle since I
saw you last that, I fear me, will never out of 2220
my bones: I shall not fear fly-blowing.
Why, how now, Stephano!
O, touch me not; I am not Stephano, but a cramp.
You’ld be king o’ the isle, sirrah?
I should have been a sore one then.
This is a strange thing as e’er I look’d on.
Pointing to Caliban
He is as disproportion’d in his manners
As in his shape. Go, sirrah, to my cell;
Take with you your companions; as you look 2230
To have my pardon, trim it handsomely.
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!
Go to; away!
Hence, and bestow your luggage where you found it. 2240
Or stole it, rather.
Exeunt CALIBAN, STEPHANO, and TRINCULO
Sir, I invite your highness and your train
To my poor cell, where you shall take your rest 2250
For this one night; which, part of it, I’ll waste
With such discourse as, I not doubt, shall make it
Go quick away; the story of my life
And the particular accidents gone by
Since I came to this isle: and in the morn
I’ll bring you to your ship and so to Naples,
Where I have hope to see the nuptial
Of these our dear-beloved solemnized;
And thence retire me to my Milan, where
Every third thought shall be my grave. 2260
To hear the story of your life, which must
Take the ear strangely.
I’ll deliver all;
And promise you calm seas, auspicious gales
And sail so expeditious that shall catch
Your royal fleet far off.
[Aside to ARIEL]
My Ariel, chick,
That is thy charge: then to the elements
Be free, and fare thou well! Please you, draw near. 2270
SPOKEN BY PROSPERO
Now my charms are all o’erthrown,
And what strength I have’s mine own,
Which is most faint: now, ‘tis true,
I must be here confined by you,
Or sent to Naples. Let me not,
Since I have my dukedom got
And pardon’d the deceiver, dwell
In this bare island by your spell;
But release me from my bands
With the help of your good hands: 2280
Gentle breath of yours my sails
Must fill, or else my project fails,
Which was to please. Now I want
Spirits to enforce, art to enchant,
And my ending is despair,
Unless I be relieved by prayer,
Which pierces so that it assaults
Mercy itself and frees all faults.
As you from crimes would pardon’d be,
Let your indulgence set me free. 2290
Questions for Consideration:
Unlike Trifles, this play is written in verse. Most lines tend to contain 10-11 syllables and some can be read as blank verse, unrhymed iambic pentameter. Why would Shakespeare have written it this way in his day? What is the effect of this use of verse in the characters’ lines?
Gonzalo comments that he believes the boatswain’s fate is to be hanged rather than drowned. What point is he making? What larger notion of fate in the play is introduced in this passage? How does Prospero’s magic affect our notion of fate?
What do we learn of Miranda’s character in her first speech?
What does Prospero reveal to Miranda in their first exchange?
In The Tempest, how does Shakespeare develop the theme of ambition and its power to corrupt?
What evidence does the play present of Prospero’s magical powers?
Why is Ariel loyal to Prospero?
How does Prospero describe Caliban, son of Sycorax?
How does Miranda feel about Caliban? Why?
How does Caliban feel about Prospero? Why?
Is Prospero good?
How does Shakespeare use “asides” to convey to the audience character attitudes and information that some characters are not privy to?
Why does Prospero treat Ferdinand so roughly in the beginning?
What is the effect of metaphors and similes in the play?
How does Gonzalo describe the perfect commonwealth?
Find a passage in the dialogue of Act I, Scene 2 that reveals Antonio’s character.
What is the effect of the play-within-a-play, the masque put on by Juno, Ceres, and Iris for Miranda and Ferdinand?
How does Prospero’s epilogue further develop the audience’s acknowledgement of the play’s being a play? In what way has the audience’s power kept Prospero “confined” to the island?
How is the script a kind of fate for the characters?
As traditional to Greek drama, tragedies end in death, comedies in marriage. As a comedy, how does this play resolve its conflicts in the final events, including the impending marriage of Miranda and Ferdinand?
Shakespeare’s influence on Western culture is undeniable. Not only is his work a touchstone for Western literature in general, but many of his characters have both drawn from and shaped important literary archetypes (figures that appear over and over again in literature for their familiar roles in general human dynamics). The Tempest has certainly made its mark in this regard, establishing Prospero and Caliban as two important widely- recognized archetypes. Prospero is the magician: a powerful figure able to orchestrate events and control outcomes, but held accountable on some level for his decisions in doing so. Caliban is the savage: tragic, malformed, and yet sensitive to the injustice of his circumstances. Further, this play’s archetypal influence is evidenced by the many versions of it that have been produced—in theatre, film, and fiction—since Shakespeare’s time. For example, Paul Mazursky’s 1982 film Tempest, set in the twentieth century yet based on Shakespeare’s play, stars John Cassavetes as the self- exiled architect Philip Dimitrius (Prospero) and Molly Ringwald as his teenaged daughter Miranda. In two other interesting retellings of the story, Julie Taymor’s 2010 film The Tempest stars Helen Mirren as Prospera, and Gloria Naylor’s 1988 novel Mama Day employs the storm as plot-vehicle as well as featuring Mama Day herself as a black female Prospero-type figure.
The themes of The Tempest, then, are considered by many to be “universal” in their connection to common human experiences such as feeling relegated to an unjustly-restricted and inferior status (as Caliban is) and deciding whether use of one’s power to alter others’ lives is justified or not (like Prospero). Dramatic productions have great potential to move an audience, and both Trifles and The Tempest offer examples of how a play might do so. Through effective use of dramatic strategies and powerfully written lines, a play can tap into the most basic and profound aspects of human experience.