Topic: The Tempest by William Shakespeare

The Tempest: Act 3, Scene 2 Summary

Plot Summary / The Story-line

In Act 3, Scene 2 of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”, Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo are jovially engaged in drunken revelry. Their comical squabble is going on. Caliban enjoys such gibberish talk and puts forward a suggestion to Stephano. Intoxicated by the beverage Caliban suddenly gets distracted pondering over his slavery to Prospero. He proposes that Stephano kill Prospero stealing his magic books and taking full control over Miranda. Such momentary burst of rebellion against Prospero is intensified by Stephano’s greed for kingship. They skilfully conspire against Prospero. On Caliban’s evil counsel, the time of assault on Prospero is chosen to be the afternoon. This is what Caliban says –

‘tis a custom with him in the afternoon to sleep: there thou mays’t brain him

Caliban masterminds how to “Batter his skull, or paunch him with a stake”. He instructs not to burn his books which are repository of the knowledge of magic by which Prospero has got full mastery over them. Another important facet of their conspiracy is to capture Miranda who possesses “nonpareil beauty”. Caliban thus wants to materialize his wanton desire for Miranda. He insists on having Prospero’s books without which “He’s but a sot”. Allured by the prospect of kingship, Stephano envisions the dream space of kingship. Then he decides upon killing Prospero and marrying Miranda”

Monster, I will kill this man; his daughter and I will be king and queen

At this point, Ariel appears invisible and leads them away with the music of tabor and pipe.

Commentary on Act III, Scene ii

Such a backdrop is created in this scene of “The Tempest” where three conspirators such as Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo are heavily drunk and indulge in unrestrained merriment. It is not a simple scene of merriment because here we see Caliban hatch a conspiracy against Prospero. It is a grotesque parody of the conspiracy that Alonso and Gonzalo hatched against Prospero.