The Tempest: Act IV, Scene i - Part 2

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  • Q1

    Explain the dramatic purpose of the masque in Act IV Scene 1 in the play, ‘The Tempest’.


    A masque was a dramatic presentation of the Elizabethan times, consisting of declamation and dialogue, music and dance coupled with exotic scenery. It was performed by members of nobility. The characters wore splendid and gaudy clothes. Masques were considered as the favourite form of entertainment. With the passage of time, it came to be used in a long play. Its main aim was to entertain the audience. It traditionally took place on festive occasions and provided an allegorical setting to celebrate harvests, betrothals and marriages.

    The first masque is the banquet scene of Act III Scene III. It is a dumb show that includes music, dance, dramatic gestures and supernatural elements. The disappearance of the banquet provides entertainment.

    Though the masque is included to provide entertainment, it also serves a dramatic purpose. The love-episode involving Ferdinand and Miranda looked real and natural to the audience by the addition of the masque in the play. The romantic episode reaches its climax when Alonso showers his blessings on the young lovers.

    The second masque is very elaborate. It is the wedding masque and a materialisation of Prospero's will and power. Like the court masque, it is a visual spectacle: "No tongue! All eyes! Be silent!" Whereas in the second scene of ‘The Tempest’, Prospero wanted his daughter to listen, to his tale, this time he wanted visual attention. The masque celebrates Prospero's paternal magnanimity and his ability to defy the laws of time and nature — "Spring come to you at the farthest, / In the very end of harvest!" winter has been excluded from Prospero's seasonal cycle. Abundance emanates spontaneously from Nature's inexhaustible resources; the masque is a departure from the real world of ‘The Tempest’, in which Ferdinand has to labour for his wedding, Ariel for his freedom, Caliban for the liberation from bodily pain. These harsh, rigid transactions are replaced by a vision of unconditional plenty.

    The second masque starts with the appearance of Iris, the goddess of the rainbow and Juno, the wife of the supreme god, Jupiter. Iris makes a long speech and summons Ceres, the goddess of agriculture and all the fruits that enrich the earth. Juno joins Ceres and informs her that she has been summoned to bless the couple who will be married soon. She showers her blessings and wishes them long life, riches, honour, many children and happiness. Ceres then blesses them with inexhaustible storehouses of corn, plenty of fruits and everything else. Later, a number of nymphs and reapers perform a splendid dance. Ferdinand is very curious to know if the dance was actually performed by spirits.

    The masque is in tune with the general atmosphere of the play. Prospero, the great magician, has acquired powers over the supernatural spirits and gets all his tasks done by them. The whole play is dominated by the supernatural machinery. In Act IV scene 1 the masque presented by Prospero involves, Ceres, Iris, Juno, nymphs and reapers. In ‘The Tempest’, the masque provides the essential comic relief and helps in building up a romantic atmosphere.

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  • Q2


    Ay, but to lose our bottles in the pool, —


    There is not only disgrace and dishonor in that, monster, but an infinite loss.


    That’s more to me than my wetting: yet this is your harmless fairy, monster.


    I will fetch off my bottle, though I be o’er ears for my labour.


    Prithee, my king, be quiet. Seest thou here,

    This is the mouth o’ the cell: no noise, and enter.

    Do that good mischief which may make this island

    Thine own for ever, and I, thy Caliban,

    For aye thy foot-licker.

    (i)What is a disgrace and an infinite loss? Where was the precious article lost? How?

    (ii)Who is a harmless fairy? Why is the fairy harmless?

    (iii)Who is referred to as my king? Where are the king and Caliban? Why is the king requested to be quiet?

    (iv) What is the good mischief? How would the three benefit from this mischief?

    (v)Which subplot involving Caliban is referred to in the extract?


    (i)Stephano and Trinculo realised that their wine bottles were lost in the filthy pool. According to Stephano, losing the wine bottles was more disgraceful than getting submerged in the smelly pool. The wine bottles were lost in the filthy pool by the drunkards.

    (ii) Trinculo calls Ariel as the harmless fairy. According to Caliban, Ariel will not harm anyone of them. When Trinculo and Stephano lose their wine bottles in the filthy pool, they accuse Caliban that his harmless fairy (i.e. Ariel) has harmed them more than even getting wet in the filthy pool.

    (iii) Caliban addresses Stephano as ‘the king’. Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo were near Prospero’s cell according to their plot. Once Prospero is killed, Stephano would be the king of the island and Caliban his servant.

    (iv) According to Caliban, the good mischief is the murder of Prospero. After the death of Prospero, Stephano would become the king of the island; Caliban would become his slave forever.

    (v) The subplot in the scene is the conspiracy hatched by Caliban to murder Prospero. At the end of the scene, Prospero punishes the three conspirators through his supernatural powers.

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  • Q3


    I told you, sir, they were red-hot with drinking

    So full of valour that they smote the air

    For breathing in their faces, beat the ground

    For kissing of their feet; yet always bending

    Towards their project. Then I beat my tabor;

    At which, like unback’d colts, they prick’d their ears,

    Advanced their eyelids, lifted up their noses

    As they smelt music: So I charm’d their ears

    That, calf-like, they my lowing follow’d through

    Tooth’d briers, sharp furzes, pricking goss and thorns,

    Which entered their frail shins: at last I left them

    I’ the filthy mantled pool beyond your cell,

    (i)Who are ‘they’ referred to in the first line of the extract? Describe what they were doing.

    (ii)Describe the scene that followed when Ariel beat the tabor.

    (iii) Where did Ariel leave them finally and in what condition?

    (iv)Give the meaning of

    (a)….. they smote the air

    For breathing in their faces, beat the ground

    For kissing of their feet;

    (b)…. at last I left them

    I’ the filthy mantled pool beyond your cell,

    (v) What does Prospero ask Ariel to do next?


    (i)’They’ refer to Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo, the three conspirators who plotted against Prospero. They were totally drunk in the scene.

    (ii) When Ariel beat his drum, the three drunkards like untrained horses pricked their ears, open their eyes and blew out their noses trying to sense the music. Ariel then put a spell on their ears and they followed through the thorny briars, sharp furz bushes that pierced their legs like calves follow their mother’s call.

    (iii) Ariel left them in the dirt-covered pool beyond Prospero’s cell. They were submerged up to their chins as they danced in the filthy pool which was more stinking than their feet.

    (iv)(a)When Prospero asked the whereabouts of the three conspirators, Ariel told him that they were fully intoxicated with drinking. They smote the air that blew on their faces and beat the ground as it touched their feet while walking.

    (b) Ariel punished the three conspirators by making them walk like untrained horses through thorny bushes and ended up by leaving them in a filthy pool in which they were submerged till their chin.

    (v) Having punished the three conspirators, Prospero asks Ariel to bring some gaudy garments from his cell to set up a trap for these rogues.

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