Plot Summary / The Story-line
In Act I, Scene-ii of William Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest”, we get introduced to the main characters like Prospero and Miranda. Now the setting of scene one is changed into another environ that is of a nearby island. Miranda is very upset on account of the incident of the shipwreck that makes her lose calm composure of mind. Her agitated soul becomes anxious for the mariners of the sinking vessel. Prospero assures her that no one will be harmed.
Prospero now starts narrating his story about his past and about who Miranda is. Miranda was eager to know that as well. Once Prospero was the duke of Milan. Naive Miranda learns a lot about her father’s dukedom and devotion to studies of music and liberal arts. In effect he neglected the governance of his kingdom. Antonio was his brother, a man politically astute and scheming, who entered upon the conspiracy against Prospero.
Prospero narrates how he was deposed by Antonio who was in league with King Alonso. Prospero and two-year old Miranda were set adrift by the conspirators. Their small boat was abandoned at sea. They chanced foot on an island of unknown origin. They have lived there since. Antonio, a voracious scholar, has raised the storm by his magic to bring his old enemies to the island. It was compassionate Gonzalo who supplied Prospero with the books he prized most.
Prospero puts Miranda to sleep with his magic in the middle of his narrative. Prospero now calls upon Ariel who reports that he has entranced the passengers of the sinking vessel. It also informs him how he has harassed the passengers and left the ship safe at anchor with the mariners asleep under the hatches.
Ariel has taken particular care about Ferdinand, the son of king Alonso. Ariel now grumbles a little about his heavy task of drudgery he is given by Prospero. On hearing it the magician sternly reminds Ariel that he is bound to work hard in exchange for his rescue from the imprisonment in tree trunk imposed by the witch Sycorax. Prospero assures him saying that if the present scheme is successful he would set him free. Ariel is instructed to wear the cloak of invisibility to avoid being exposed to others. Ariel leaves and Miranda awakes from sleep.
Now Prospero calls Caliban, a half human savage. He is the son of the witch Sycorax. Again, Ariel returns to carry out further task and is sent away. Caliban complains about his slavery. Prospero reminds him his savage act of rape that he tried on Miranda. Then Caliban is sent to gather wood.
Ariel now goes to Ferdinand amazing him, singing fairy songs. A little later, Miranda meets Ferdinand. She is rivetingly amazed to see Ferdinand, the very first young man she has seen on the island. Such encounter is equally charming to Ferdinand. Prospero notices that both Ferdinand and Miranda are lost and rapt in each other. It was an impulse of love between them. It is what Prospero has always wanted. But in Miranda’s presence, Prospero shows his stern attitude to Ferdinand. Ferdinand attempts to draw his sword but is prevented by Prospero’s magic and is led away as a prisoner.
Commentary on Act 1, Scene 2
Act one scene two of the play “The Tempest” is strikingly opposite to that of the first scene with its quiet and repose. It an exposition scene through which we are conversant with the tale of Prospero’s banishment along with his infant daughter Miranda and subsequent misfortunes that he suffered along with his daughter. Its reflective mood is indicative of philosophic bent of mind of Prospero and over-anxious nature of Miranda.
Nothing significant happens in this scene; it is rather retrogression of Prospero’s previous life. Magic pervades the entire scene as the most important thematic motif that precipitates the action of the story. Such ingenious method of bringing enemies form distant land is a novel dramatic stratagem used by Shakespeare.