The tempest

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Prospero appears accompanied with music, and a banquet magically appears;

  • The royal party react with wonder and awe;

  • There is thunder and lightning, and Ariel enters as a harpy (mythical creature with the face of a woman but the wings and talons of a vulture);

  • Ariel delivers a terrifying speech, reminding Alonso and Antonio about their sins against Prospero;

  • Ariel vanishes in thunder.


    • Prospero, Miranda and Ferdinand enter. Prospero releases Ferdinand and approves his marriage to Miranda;

    • Ariel enters and Prospero instructs him to fetch the royal party to him;

    • Prospero then uses his magic to show Ferdinand and Miranda a masque (a performance of music, poetry and dance with powerful visual effects);

    • Prospero suddenly remembers Caliban’s plot against his life and the masque vanishes;

    • Ariel re-enters and Prospero orders Ariel to bring Caliban, Trinculo and Stephano before him;

    • Caliban, Trinculo and Stephano enter, all wet. Prospero distracts Stephano and Trinculo from their plot to kill him with glamorous clothes. Caliban is appalled at their behaviour.

    • Caliban, Trinulo and Stephano are then chased off the stage by sprits in the shape of dogs and hounds, organised by Prospero.


    • Before Prospero’s cell;

    • Enter Ariel and Prospero. Ariel tells Prospero that the royal party are still bewitched and encourages him to have pity on them;

    • Prospero orders their release. Ariel exits;

    • Prospero speaks to the audience about his intention to give up magic;

    • Ariel re-enters, leading in King Alonso, Gonzalo, Sebastian, Antonio, Adrian and Francisco. Prospero lifts the magic spell;

    • Prospero changes from his magical robes to his Duke’s apparel;

    • Ariel sings joyfully of his approaching freedom;

    • Prospero forgives the royal party;

    • Prospero then reveals Miranda and Ferdinand playing chess. Ferdinand introduces Miranda and Alonso welcomes her;

    • Ariel enters with the Shipmaster and Boatswain. The Boatswain says that the ship is miraculously undamaged;

    • Ariel exits and then re-enters with Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo. Caliban apologises and exits;

    • Prospero invites the others to hear the story of his life;

    • Prospero frees Ariel.


    • Prospero tells the audience that he has given up his magical powers and therefore needs the audience’s encouragement (applause) if he is to return to Naples.


    1. Divide the class into five, and give each group two scenes each (see attached)

    1. Ask them to come up with a frozen picture (tableau) for each scene

    1. Show them around the class

    1. Now ask them to come up with a silent film version for each of their scenes, with a freeze frame at the end.

    1. Show them around the class


    A boat carrying the King Alonso and the Duke of Milan (Antonio) is caught in a storm.


    Prospero tells his daughter the story of how he was usurped by his brother Antonio, and how they came to be on the island.


    Prospero and Ariel discuss the storm.


    Caliban is introduced.


    Miranda and Ferdinand meet and fall in love.


    King Alonso mourns the loss of his son Ferdinand, unaware of Sebastian and Antonio’s plot to kill him.


    Stephano, Trinculo and Caliban meet and drink alcohol. They plot to overthrow Prospero.


    Prospero bewitches the royal party with a magical banquet and Ariel accuses them of usurping Prospero.


    Prospero gives Ferdinand Miranda’s hand in marriage.

    Prospero creates a magical vision in celebration.

    Prospero and Ariel trick the drunken Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo with a magical washing line and then set spirits in the form of hounds after them.


    Prospero brings everyone together and presents himself. He forgives his enemies, Antonio and Alonso.


    Prospero presents Ferdinand and Miranda, much to Alonso’s joy.


    Stephano and Trinculo (with bad hangovers) cowardly describe their torments. Caliban repents.


    Prospero invites the others into his cell to hear the story of his life before they all return to Italy.


    Prospero invites the audience to release him with their applause.

    TASK: Reading “The Tempest”- Act 1 Scene 2

    Examine stereotypical characters and then explore the behaviour of Prospero, Miranda, Ariel, Ferdinand and Caliban, finding suitable quotations.
    Obviously there is no “right” way to read the play! However, there are some suggested, scene by scene activities listed below. All resources are attached.
    Act One, Scene Two
    Examine stereotypical characters (this can be done as a drama activity).

    Ask students to improvise the following individually or in pairs:

    • Pet owner to a dog

    • Son to his mother

    • A small child

    • Train conductor

    • Newsreader

    • Doorman / bouncer

    • Teacher to a student

    • A toddler and mother

    • Boy to a group of friends

    After reading Act One, Scene Two, explore the behaviour of Prospero, Miranda, Ariel, Ferdinand and Caliban, finding suitable quotations. How typical are they of a controlling father, innocent daughter, Spirit, young man and “beast”?

    Exploring parent / child relationships in more detail

    Again, this is a drama-based activity which requires a large desk free space.
    Students are to work in pairs. One is the parent and the other a child.

    The parent and child should walk around the space together initially. The child should then become distracted by something in the space and walk off towards it.

    The parent should then calmly call the child by name ONCE. The child should return to the parent.

    Repeat this three times.
    The parent and child should then resume their walk. Again, the child should become distracted and walk away from the parent. The parents should again call the child’s name, but this time the child should not go to the parent. The parent should call then child’s name THREE times (becoming increasingly irritated) before the child returns to the parent. Repeat this three times.
    Parents and children should then discuss how the exercise made them feel. Partners should then swap roles and repeat the exercise.
    Make the point that parent / child relationships are very powerful in “The Tempest”, eg. Prospero and Miranda, Prospero and Ariel, Prospero and Caliban, Alonso and Ferdinand.


    Hyperbole, Utopia, Dystopia
    TASKS: Reading “The Tempest” – Act Two

    Writing to imagine, explore, entertain - students should describe their own utopias or dystopias;

    Writing to argue, persuade, advise – students to use techniques to write persuasively on a number of topics;

    Analyse Caliban’s soliloquy at the start of the scene;

    Storyboard the entrance of Trinculo and Stephano and show how it contrasts with the mood of Caliban’s opening soliloquy.
    Act Two, Scene One - Brave New World!

    Explain that many writers use the metaphor of an island for investigating society and how it is constructed, organised and governed. Well known examples include Treasure Island, Lord of the Flies and the TV series Lost.

    Explain the meaning of utopia and point out that writers often investigate this idea, including how utopias go wrong (dystopias). Huxley’s Brave New World explores the idea of a dystopia, using Miranda’s words from The Tempest as its title.
    Gonzalo’s utopia

    Explore Gonzalo’s utopia in Act 2, Scene 1, explaining what he would do if he were in chare of the island.

    Writing to imagine, explore, entertain

    Students should describe their own utopias or dystopias.

    Writing to argue, persuade, advise

    Ask students, “how do you persuade someone to do something for you?” To help them think, you could give them the scenario of persuading an older sister to do their English homework. Draw out the techniques suggested and list them, eg. flattery, threats, rewards. In pairs, students should use the appropriate persuasive behaviour to act out the following ideas:

    • Persuade your parents to let you have a party

    • Persuade you friend to ask someone out

    • Persuade your teacher to let you off homework

    • Persuade your brother / sister to do the washing up when it’s your turn.

    Remind students that in Act Two, Scene One, Antonio is persuading Sebastian to kill his brother, Alonso. Explain that Antonio uses persuasive techniques to convince Sebastian. Students should then identify when Antonio uses the following techniques, finding quotations to support their points:

    • Appealing to his ambition

    • Boosting his confidence

    • Flattery

    • Describing the future

    • Using hyperbole

    • Ridiculing others

    Act Two, Scene Two

    Consider Caliban’s soliloquy at the start of the scene (this could be photocopied for students to annotate).

    How does he feel about Prospero at this early stage in the play?
    You also may wish to storyboard part of this scene to show how the entrance of Trinculo and Stephano contrasts with the mood of Caliban’s opening soliloquy.



    TASKS: Reading Act Three

    Scene One: Contrasting Language - consider Ferdinand’s opening soliloquy and explore the use of oppositions or antithesis;

    Scene Two: Essay - directorial response to the drunkards;

    Scene Three: Writing to imagine, explore, entertain. Students should imagine themselves as Gonzalo. He has returned to Milan and is recounting the events on the island for the benefit of a friend. Students should write a script of his monologue for the events of Act 3, Scene 3.

    Act Three, Scene One

    In pairs, students should consider the question, “Do you believe in love at first sight?” They should give reasons for their answers. As a class, explore the potential advantages and disadvantages.

    Contrasting Language

    Consider Ferdinand’s opening soliloquy in Act Three, Scene One and explore the use of oppositions or antithesis. You may wish to photocopy this extract for students to annotate.

    Young Love

    In pairs, students should find quotations to illustrate Miranda and Ferdinand’s feelings for each other. In each pair, one student should find quotations for Miranda and the other for Ferdinand. Once suitable quotations for each character have been found, students should then summarise the reasons their character gives for those feelings.

    Act Three, Scene Two

    Discuss how an actor can show the audience that his or her character is drunk. List suggestions on the board. Explain to students that they are sometimes asked to direct a scene or the way a character should act as part of their SATSs exam. Explain that in order to do this they have to show a detailed understanding of Shakespeare’s characters and language. Examine Act Three, Scene Two and consider how the lines are spoken, the mood of the characters and how their voices, action or movements will show this, and which words need to be emphasised.

    Students should consider the following checklist of things to note when directing:

    • How is the line spoken?

    • Who is being spoken to?

    • What mood is the character in and how will the actor’s voice, action or movement show this?

    • What words need to be emphasised and in what way?

    Annotate an extract of the scene and work in groups of four to present it.

    Remind students that when writing up their responses, they need to use PEE. For example, Caliban should spit out his words unpleasantly when he calls Prospero a “tyrant” and “sorcerer” as this will show how much he hates his master.

    Essay: How would you direct Act Three, Scene Two to show Caliban’s growing determination and frustration with Trinculo?
    Act Three, Scene Three

    In this scene, Ariel appears to the island visitors as a harpy. Write on the board the following description of a harpy and then ask students to produce a quick sketch:

    A harpy is a creature from Greek mythology. They were ugly, evil and bad-tempered, with the head and body of a woman and the tail, wings and claws of a bird. These horrible creatures were usually associated with wind, ghosts and the underworld.
    Reading Ariel’s speech as a harpy and consider how a harpy would speak, thinking about pitch, tone, sound and volume. They could practise reading the speech in their harpy voices.
    Writing to imagine, explore, entertain:
    Students should imagine themselves as Gonzalo. He has returned to Milan and is recounting the events on the island for the benefit of a friend. Students should write a script of his monologue. Ensure students include an account of Alonso’s mood, the banquet and mysterious spirits, the harpy and your reaction to events at the end of the scene. This activity could be extended to include other characters recounting their feelings.

    TASK: Consider Shakespeare’s use of language, stage directions and characterisation in Act Four, Scene One.
    Act Four, Scene One is full of romance, drama and humour. Consider the following list of events and decide who is involved in each situation:

    • One character is pleased about an impending marriage;

    • Two people get very drunk;

    • A plan for a murder goes wrong;

    • Three people fall into a stinking pond;

    • A character becomes angry when reminded of something;

    • Someone is distracted from a task by some beautiful clothes;

    • Some magic is performed;

    • A pack of dogs chases more than one character away;

    • One character has a heart-to-heart talk with another character;

    • One character believe another will make a great leader.

    Students should then consider the following questions about the scene:

    • How has Shakespeare made the first part of the scene pleasant / beautiful / magical?

    • How has Shakespeare made the second part of the scene unpleasant / vulgar / repulsive?

    • Why has Shakespeare juxtaposed these two halves rather than separating them into two scenes?

    TASK: Act Five, Scene One

    Revise the main characters and actions to revise events in the play;

    Students should write a response to this scene, considering if they are surprised by the ending of the play and consider how Prospero’s power changes as the play progresses.
    Revise the main characters and actions to revise events in the play so far.

    Explain to students that in this last scene, all action of the play is seemingly resolved. Prospero draws the group together, reveals himself as being the true Duke of Milan and speaks to each character about what they have done to him.

    In pairs, students should use the attached resource to identify which of Prospero’s speeches is intended for which character. Prompt students to look for clues such as what Prospero calls the person, whether he refers to their actions and what he says he will do to them now. Once students have finished, take feedback and discuss ideas as a class.
    Now read the scene.

    Students to write a response to this scene, considering if they are surprised by the ending of the play, using the following questions:

    • Does Prospero behave in a way they were expecting or is he much more forgiving?

    • Is everything resolved?

    • Are Antonio and Sebastian likely to change and become virtuous?

    • What will happen once everyone is back in Italy?

    The Ups and Downs of Prospero’s life:

    Use the time line to show how Prospero’s power changes as the play progresses.


    ocus on iambic pentameter:

    Use Prospero’s speech from Act 5, Scene 1 (lines 38-62) scrabbled (attached). Students should insert line breaks based on their knowledge of iambic pentameter.

    Read all of Prospero’s speeches below and decide which one he says to which character. Note that he doesn’t say something to everyone, and to some characters he says more than just one thing!
    1. 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

    2. 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.
    3. There, sir, stop.

    Let us not burden our remembrances with

    A heaviness that’s gone.
    4. Go, sirrah, to my cell;

    Take with you your companions. As you look

    To have my pardon, trim it handsomely.
    5. First, noble friend,

    Let me embrace thine age, whose honour cannot

    Be measured or confined.
    6. No.

    For you, most wicked sir, whom to call brother

    Would even infect my mouth, I do forgive

    Thy rankest fault – all of them …

    7. Sir, my liege,

    Do not infest my mind with beating on

    The strangeness of this business. At picked leisure,

    Which shall be shortly single, I’ll resolve you,

    Which to you shall seem probable, of every

    These happened accidents. Till when, be cheerful

    And think of each thing well.
    8. That is thy charge. Then to the elements

    Be free, and fare thou well!

    Mark in where you think the line breaks should fall then check your version against a copy of the play:

    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 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 bedimmed the noontide sun, called 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 have I made shake, and by the spurs plucked 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 I’ll drown my book.

    Students should also consider how Propsero’s speech breaks into sections. Students should work in pairs to decide whether the scene breaks into four, five or six sections and where these breaks are (there is no “right” answer, but discussions should promote a debate on the meaning of Prospero’s lines).

    TASK: Consider how Shakespeare presents the main characters in “The Tempest”.
    Write ROSE PROP on board (suggest strength?) and examine word root of his name – look up prsper and prosperous in dictionary. Acrostic of his name, eg. Proud, Ruler, Overbearing.

    Students could write an essay:

    Is Prospero the strong, successful character his name suggests? Use PEE.

    They should include points such as Prospero as a strong and successful character, with his use of magic, control of Ariel and Caliban and the imprisonment of Ferdinand. Equally, they could consider Prospero as unsuccessful because he has to rely on magic for his power, his cruelty and his inability to control Miranda’s love for Ferdinand.

    Examine quotations from Prospero about Ariel, eg. “chick”, “brave spirit”, “my delicate”, “my dainty”. Discuss if these names give any indication of Ariel’s character or what Ariel looks like.

    Examine images of Ariel and see following websites:

    Also see images.


    Writing to explore, imagine, entertain:

    Students could write a mini-autobiography for Ariel, including as much information from the play as possible, including how Ariel feels about particular issues – is he grateful to Prospero or angry at him? Consider whether Ariel was on the island in the first place and what Ariel did before Sycorax came. Focus on Act 1 Scene 2, lines 303 to 353. How does Ariel feel about Sycroax and Prospero? What do you think Ariel will do after the events in the play are over?

    Students should also draw Ariel as they imagine him.

    Ask students to consider if he is a man or a monster. Use the following quotations about Caliban:

    “Thou earth”, “poisonous slave”, “got (fathered) by the devil himself”, “filth”, “hag-seed”, “tortoise”, “man or a fish”, “a most scurvy monster”, “a moon-calf”, “abhorred (hated) slave from a vile race”.

    Now use these quotations to help students to draw and label Caliban.

    They should then consider how to give an actor advice about playing the part. Consider:

    • How should Caliban stand and move around the stage?

    • What gestures and facial expression should he use?

    • How should Caliban speak? Will he adopt a bitter, angry or sad tone of voice? Will he speak loudly or mutter quietly?

    • Will Caliban’s posture, gestures, facial expression and manner of speaking change during the play?

    Discuss if Prospero admits at least some responsibility for Caliban’s behaviour when he says, “…this thing of darkness, I / Acknowledge mine …”

    Students should now gather information / evidence about Caliban, considering the following:

    1. Find evidence that Caliban has been badly treated by Prospero and Miranda in the past (cruelty can be physical and psychological). Focus on Act 1, Scene 2;

    2. Find evidence that Prospero has stolen the island from Caliban. (Act 1 Scene 2; Act 3 Scene 2);

    3. Find evidence that Caliban loves the island. (Act 1 Scene 2; Act 3 Scene 2);

    4. Find evidence that Caliban is abusive towards Prospero and Miranda and wants to harm them. (Act 1 Scene 2, and Act 2 Scene 2);

    5. Find evidence that Caliban plots to murder Prospero and encourages Stephano and Trinculo to help him carry out the murder. (Act 3 Scene 2);

    6. Find evidence that Caliban attempts to take the island from Prospero to allow Stephano to rule. (Act 3 Scene 2).

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