The Tempest: Act II, Scene ii

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  • Q1

    Describe the farcical scenes in Act II scene ii and explain how they provide humour.


    There are many farcical scenes in Act II scene ii. In the first comical scene Trinculo, hearing the thunder thinks that another storm is coming and searches for a place to hide. He finds a brownish lump with legs lying flat on the ground. It is Caliban partially hidden under his cloak. He thinks of him as a strange fish. However, he crawls under Caliban’s cloak for shelter saying, 'Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellow.'

    In the next farcical scene, Stephano, the butler of King Alonso, enters drinking wine and singing. Hearing his song, Caliban thinks Ariel is coming to torment him and cries out, 'Do not torment me!' Stephano hears the noise and notices a creature with four legs. He thinks that the creature has two heads as well. He plans to capture the monster and sell it to make money. He gives one head (Caliban's) a drink of wine, hoping to tame the monster. Trinculo recognises Stephano's voice and calls out to him. Stephano pulls him out by the legs. The two embrace and share their stories.

    In the third comical scene Caliban gets drunk as he has never tasted wine before. He thinks that Stephano is a god who has come to earth from heaven with a celestial liquid. He kneels to worship him and declares himself Stephano's slave. Stephano enjoys the veneration given by the monster and accepts Caliban’s offer to kiss his feet. He offers to serve them if they agree to be his masters. He also offers to take them around the island. He thinks that Stephano would relieve him from the servitude of Prospero. Stephano, on the other hand, fantasises of becoming the ruler of the island, even though he believes that the island is deserted. Trinculo does not like the monster and comments on the absurdity of a monster making wonder of a poor drunkard.

    It is indeed humorous that Caliban wants freedom from the slavery of Prospero but at the same time offers to become the slave of Stephano. In his anger towards Prospero he curses him and thinks that his new master will treat him well. In fact, it is wine that made him think so. In his drunkenness he thinks that Stephano is a god.

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  • Q2

    Read the following passage and answer briefly the questions that follow.

    Trinculo O Stephano, hast any more of this?

    Stephano The whole butt, man: my cellar is in a rock by the sea-side where my wine is hid. –How now, mooncalf! How does thine ague?

    Caliban Hast thou not dropp’d from heaven?

    Stephano Out o’ the moon, I do assure thee; I was the man-i’-the moon when time was

    Caliban I have seen thee in her and I do adore thee:

    My mistress show’d me thee and thy dog and thy bush.

    Stephano Come, swear to that; kiss the book:-I will furnish it anon with new contents:- swear.

    (i) What does Trinculo ask for more of Stephano? Where does Stephano keep it? What is meant by mooncalf? (2)

    (ii) What does Caliban wonder about Stephano? Why? What is meant by, ‘man in the moon’? (2)

    (iii) Whom does Caliban call as his mistress? What did she tell him? (1)

    (iv) What is referred to as book, in an oath in general? By what does Stephano tell Caliban to swear? (1)

    (v) What service of his does Caliban offer to his companion at the end of the scene? (2)

    (vi) Describe two farcical situations in the scene which provide humour. (2)


    (i) Trinculo asks Stephano for more wine. Stephano has stored a whole barrel of wine in his wine cellar, a cave by the seaside, where he has hidden the wine barrel. He calls Caliban mooncalf, meaning monster, a misshapen creature born under the moon's influence.

    (ii) Caliban wonders if Stephano has come from heaven. Caliban initially mistakes Stephano and Trinculo for Prospero’s spirits, but alcohol convinces him that Stephano is a “brave god” who carries some kind of celestial liquid and decides unconditionally to “kneel to him”. He says so as he is intoxicated by the wine they have given him.

    (iii) Caliban calls his mother as his mistress. He says that she showed him, Stephano, in the moon with his dog and bundle of sticks.

    (iv) People usually swear by their holy books or the constitution of their country. However, Stephano asks Caliban to swear by the bottle of wine that he is carrying.

    (v) Caliban offers to serve them if they accept him as their slave. He says that he would show them the best source of fresh water, pick berries and gather firewood for them. He also offers to show them where to find crabs and birds’ nests with eggs. He would also catch fish, seagulls and dig peanuts for them. He offers to teach them how to catch a quick moving monkey.

    (vi) The first farcical situation is seen in the figure of Caliban lying flat on the ground. Trinculo wonders if the strange creature is a fish. ‘What have we here? A man or a fish”, he says and then creeps under Trinculo’s garment to save himself from the storm.

    The second farcical situation is provided by the entry of Stephano, singing in a state of drunkenness. He sees Trinculo’s legs protruding from Caliban’s garment, and thinks that Caliban is a four-legged creature.

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  • Q3

    Read the following passage and answer briefly the questions that follow.

    Caliban: All the infections that the sun sucks up

    From bogs, fens, flats, on Prospero fall and make him

    By inch-meal a disease! His spirits hear me

    And yet I needs must curse. But they’ll nor pinch,

    Fright me with urchin-shows, pitch me i’ the mire,

    Nor lead me, like a firebrand, in the dark

    Out of my way, unless he bid ‘em: but

    For every trifle are they set upon me;

    Sometime like apes that mow and chatter at me

    And after bite me: then like hedgehogs which

    Lie tumbling in my barefoot way, and mount

    Their pricks at my footfall: sometime am I

    All wound with adders, who with cloven tongues

    Do hiss me into madness

    (i) What curses does Caliban shower upon Prospero? (2)

    (ii) Why is he frightened to curse Prospero? (1)

    (iii) How do the sprits trouble Caliban when commanded by their master? (2)

    (iv) Prospero taught Caliban language and good things in life; but he uses foul language to curse his master. What does the phenomenon show about taming wild nature? (2)

    (v) Who is Caliban? Why does he curse Prospero? (2)

    (vi) How do the spirits trouble Caliban like apes and hedge-hogs? (1)


    (i) Caliban hates Prospero more than anything. He is frightened of Prospero as latter tormented him in order to tame him. In this soliloquy he does not hold back anything. So, he curses Prospero. He wishes that all the infections that the sun sucked up from the bogs, marshes and swamps would fall upon Prospero and infect him inch by inch that he may become a 'walking-disease'.

    (ii) Caliban is frightened of the spirits controlled by Prospero. He knows that they are listening to him. Yet he can’t stop cursing Prospero. So he curses him in a low voice.

    (iii) When commanded by Prospero they would pinch him, frighten him with goblins, throw him in the mud or lead him astray in the shape of a will-o'-the -wisp. Caliban knows that the spirits wouldn’t do this unless commanded by their master. However, Prospero used to set them on him for every little thing.

    (iv) When Prospero and his daughter Miranda were shipwrecked on the island Caliban welcomed them. Prospero tried to tame and educate him. However, Caliban resorted to his true nature and tried to rape Miranda. Prospero used his spirits to torment him in order to tame him. Caliban’s story proves the fact that it is difficult to tame wild nature. What one inherited by birth will remain with a person forever.

    (v) Caliban is a savage beast, the son of the witch Sycorax, who used to inhabit the island. Though he welcomes Prospero and Miranda into the island, Prospero enslaves him with the help of spirits. He tries to tame the beast, but Caliban tries to rape Miranda. Prospero torments him using his spirits. So, Caliban hates Prospero and curses him.

    (vi) Sometimes the spirits take the shape of porcupines and lie in his path as he walks barefoot and raise their spines when he walks on them. Sometimes they look like apes, make faces and chatter at him and bite him.

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