Topic: The Tempest by William Shakespeare

The Tempest: Act 5, Scene 1 Summary

Plot Summary / The Story-line

Act five scene one of William Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest” is essentially a scene where all the characters are present. First of all, we find Ariel’s report about the pitiful condition of Alonso Sebastian and Antonio who are all overpowered with insanity owing to the tempest conjured in by black magic of Prospero.

Gonzalo is grief -stricken; it is but a sympathetic description that melts the ice. Prospero becomes soft on them because he realizes:

The rarer action is in virtue than in vengeance.

The impulse of mercy is uppermost in Prospero on seeing them penitent. Next, Prospero draws a magic circle on the ground. Ariel is sent away to fetch them. Alonso and his companions enter the circle; it is the very time when Prospero is ready to talk to them at leisure. Such opportune moment is in essence Prospero’s self-revelation; he discloses his identity and explains what has been happening during the last few hours. Now Prospero decides to break his magic staff upon the completion of his last task:

… I’ll break my staff,
Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,
And deeper than did ever plummet sound,
I’ll drown my book.

Now he discards the robes of his magic craft; instead he puts on the garment of the duke of Milan. After a couple of minutes, Alonso and his associates recover their sanity. On getting back sensibility they come to recognize Prospero. A steady process of reconciliation sets in; all their offenses pardoned off. Alonso still mourns the loss of Ferdinand.

To their astonishment, Alonso and his associates find Ferdinand and Miranda playing chess together. It is Prospero’s another magic trick by which Prospero reveals them. Miranda is ecstatically delighted to see the concourse of all whom she saw last twelve years ago. Alonso get elated boundlessly finding his son Ferdinand alive. The future succession of the couple (Ferdinand and Miranda) to the throne of Naples is proclaimed.

Alonso and Prospero are reconciled by the loves of their children. Repentant Alonso surrenders and returns Prospero’s dukedom. Antonio and Sebastian are forgiven. Caliban and his companions are dismissed with contempt and sent to restore the stolen clothes to his closet. He gives Ariel the last order to prepare auspicious wind and weather for the return to Milan and sets him free. They are all about to sail to Naples where the marriage of Ferdinand and Miranda will be solemnized.

Commentary on Act IV, Scene i

The final act is a benign moral drama where the sinners go through severe ordeals and finally are blessed with forgiveness. Prospero, a benevolent man of munificence and wisdom appears to be a strict teacher who rebukes the sinners and instills within them the seed of repentance. His abjuration of magic art is a symbolic act of bringing enlightenment among those who are engrossed in filthy immoral activities. It is a sort of educational value that hardly escapes our seeing eyes. Even Ariel who was used as an agent of correction was liberated from bondage. The island that was mainly under the rule of Cycorax is now turned into the land of civilized.