The Tempest: Act II, Scene i - Part 2

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  • Q1


    What a strange drowsiness possesses them!


    It is the quality o' th' climate.



    Doth it not then our eyelids sink? I find not

    Myself disposed to sleep.


        Nor I. My spirits are nimble.

    They fell together all, as by consent.

    They dropped, as by a thunderstroke. What might,

    Worthy Sebastian, O, what might—? No more.—

    And yet methinks I see it in thy face,

    What thou shouldst be. Th' occasion speaks thee, and

    My strong imagination sees a crown

    Dropping upon thy head.


        What, art thou waking?


    Do you not hear me speak?

    (i) What are the speakers talking about? [1]

    (ii) What is strange drowsiness? Who are affected by it? [2]

    (iii) What reason does Antonio give to Sebastian about everyone falling asleep? [2]

    (iv) What is the conspiracy planned by Antonio? [2]

    (v) How does Antonio convince Sebastian to execute the plan? [2]

    (vi) Give the meanings of the following words in the context of the passage:

    ’nimble, consent. [1]


    (i)The speakers, Antonio and Sebastian are wondering how Alonso and his courtiers fell asleep in the thick forest.

    (ii) Ariel enters playing a song, and everyone suddenly drifts off to sleep, lulled by the music, except for Alonso, Sebastian, and Antonio.

    (iii)Sebastian exclaims about everyone falling asleep and questions Antonio about the strange drowsiness. Antonio replies that it is the effect of the climate of this place. Sebastian then wonders why it does not make their eyes heavy with drowsy as he is not inclined to sleep.

    (iv) As Antonio, took his brother's (Prospero's) dukedom through treachery, wants Sebastian to follow the same.

    (v) Antonio tells Sebastian that it is best opportunity to kill Alonso and acquire his position. He doesn't waste any time before implying that there's an opportunity here for Sebastian to get a crown, and become King. He instigates Sebastian.

    (vi) Nimble: Alert

    Consent: Agreement

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  • Q2

    Critically Analyse Act II Scene i from the Shakespearean drama, The Tempest.


    Shakespeare emphasizes and undercuts the capacity of the bare stage to create a convincing illusion throughout Act II, scene I like the storm scene in Act I, Scene i. As the shipwrecked mariners look around the island, they describe it in poetry of great imaginary richness, giving the audience an imaginary picture of the setting of the play. Even so, they disagree about what they see, and even argue over what the island actually looks like.

    Shakespeare uses the ambiguous setting for several different purposes. First, the setting heightens the sense of wonder and mystery that surrounds the magical island. It also gives each audience a great deal of freedom to imagine the island as he or she so chooses. Most importantly, however, it enables the island to work as a reflection of character—we know a great deal about different characters simply from how they choose to see the island. Hence the dark, sensitive Caliban can find it both a place of terror—as when he enters, frightened and overworked in Act II, scene ii—and of great beauty—as in his “the isle is full of noises” speech. Therefore, both Gonzalo and Trinculo colonially minded are so easily able to imagine it as the site of their own utopian societies.

    Gonzalo’s fantasy about the plantation he would like to build on the island is a remarkable poetic evocation of a utopian society, in which no one would work, all people would be equal and live off the land, and all women would be “innocent and pure.” This vision indicates something of Gonzalo’s own innocence and purity. Shakespeare treats the old man’s idea of the island as a kind of lovely dream, in which the frustrations and obstructions of life (magistrates, wealth, power) would be removed and all could live naturally and authentically. Though Gonzalo’s idea is not presented as a practical possibility (hence the mockery he receives from Sebastian and Antonio), Gonzalo’s dream contrasts to his credit with the power-obsessed ideas of most of the other characters, including Prospero. Gonzalo would do away with the very master-servant motif that lies at the heart of The Tempest.

    The mockery dished out by Antonio and Sebastian reveals, by contrast, something of the noblemen’s cynicism and lack of feeling. Where Gonzalo is simply grateful and optimistic about having survived the shipwreck, Antonio and Sebastian seem mainly to be annoyed by it, though not so annoyed that they stop their incessant jesting with each other. Gonzalo says that they are simply loudmouthed jokers, who “would lift the moon out of her sphere, if she would continue in it five weeks without changing” (II.i.179–181). By conspiring against the king, however, they reveal themselves as more sinister and greedier than Gonzalo recognizes, using their verbal wit to cover up their darker and wicked impulses. However, their greediness for power is both foolish and clumsy. As they attempt to cover their treachery with the story of the “bellowing / Like bulls, or rather lions” (II.i.307–308), it seems hard to believe that Antonio ever could have risen successfully against his brother. The absurdly aggressive behavior of Antonio and Sebastian makes Prospero’s exercise of power in the previous and following scenes seem necessary. It also puts Alonso in a sympathetic position. He is a potential victim of the duo’s treachery, a fact that helps the audience believe his conversion when he reconciles with Prospero at the end.

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  • Q3

    Describe the Character Sketch of Antonio in Act II Scene i.


    Prospero's brother, Antonio once plotted to overthrow Prospero and later encourages Sebastian to do the same to Alonso and seize his kingdom. In dealing with Sebastian he uses flattery, appealing to the latter's ambition. When Sebastian asks him whether his conscience does not make him uneasy, he says that there is no such thing as conscience. According to him conscience should not stand between a man and his ambition.

    He is a power-hungry and conniving character, and never shows remorse for his cruel schemes or their consequences. Antonio is noticeably silent in response to his brother's offer of forgiveness at the end of the play.

    Antonio is a very good in pretending and he promises Alonso that he along with Sebastian will guard him while he sleeps and keep him safe.

    When Sebastian also exclaims that it is strange drowsiness that has come upon them all. Antonio replies that it is the effect of the climate of this place. Sebastian then wonders why it does not make their eyes heavy with drowsiness as he is not inclined to sleep.

    Antonio says he is also not sleepy. His thoughts are active. Turning to Sebastian he says that he sees in his face what he cherishes in his mind; the opportunity invites him and he visualises a crown dropping on his head. Sebastian doesn’t understand what Antonio is talking about and he asks him whether he is dreaming or awake.

    Being cunning, he reminds Sebastian that he does not seem to make the best use of the opportunity of securing greatness but he is allowing his chances to go or rather die. Sebastian still doesn’t comprehend what Antonio is talking about. Antonio tells Sebastian to be serious in life. If he listens to his advice, he will rise to the position three times higher than his present position. In fact he gives a subtle hint about the treacherous plot that he has in his mind.

    Sebastian understands what Antonio is trying to convey. Then Antonio asks him whether that prospect of good fortune makes him happy. Sebastian remembers that Antonio displaced his brother, Prospero. Antonio replies that it is true and Sebastian must see how well the position suits him. It is nicer than before. His brother's servants who were once his companions are now his servants. But Sebastian asks him how he manages his guilty conscience.

    Antonio, replies he doesn’t know about the conscience as he doesn’t feel anything of being guilty. He declares that if the guilt conscience were a sore on his heel, it would make him put on his slippers, but he does not feel the presence of that deity (conscience) in his heart.

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