The Tempest: Act III, Scene iii
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Thunder and lightning. Enter Ariel, like a harpy; claps his wings upon the table; and, with a quaint device the banquet vanishes.
You are three men of sin, whom Destiny, —
That hath to instrument this lower world
And what is in’t, — the never-surfeited sea
Hath caused to belch up you; and on this island
Where man doth not inhabit; — you ’mongst men
Being most unfit to live. I have made you mad;
And even with such-like valour men hang and drown
Their proper selves.
(i)What is a harpy? What mysterious atmosphere was created, when the banquet vanished?
(ii)Describe the sin committed by each of the three men.
(iii)Why does Ariel say that the three men are most unfit to live? What punishment has Ariel given them now?
(iv)Give the meaning of :
- The never-surfeited sea
Hath caused to belch up you;
- And even with such-like valour men hang and drown
(v) What is the symbolic meaning of the banquet?Marks:10
(i) A harpy is a mythical beast having the head of a woman and the body, wings and talons of an eagle; supposed to act as an agent of vengeance.
Ariel appears amidst thunder and lightning and as he claps his wings upon the table and with a quaint device the banquet disappears.
(ii) Prospero was the legitimate king of Milan. Antonio, the treacherous and ambitious brother hatched a conspiracy to usurp his brother’s dukedom. Alonso was the sworn enemy of Prospero and he got an annual tribute of money from Antonio for supporting him. Sebastian was Alonso’s younger brother. All three of them plot against Prospero and expel him from his dukedom along with his three year old daughter, Miranda in a dilapidated boat.
(iii)According to Ariel the three men are most unfit to live as they are sinners. They have betrayed Prospero. The heavenly powers are angry with the sin they have done to Prospero and his daughter. In partial repayment for these sins, Ariel announces that Ferdinand has died. This is only the beginning of the tortures or lingering perdition those three are to experience.
(iv) (a) Ariel in his monologue says that the three men are sinners. Destiny made the sea belch them up onto that island—where no men live, since none of them deserve to live.
(b) Ariel continues by saying that he has driven all the three men crazy and had done the same with many mad people in the past so that they kill themselves in desperation by drowning.
(v) The banquet represents the temptation that Alonso, Antonio and Sebastian have spent their lives pursuing: worldly material wealth and power. Prospero has brought them here to expose them for this sinfulness and to punish them for the lengths they have gone in striving to amass wealth and power.
[Alonso, Sebastian, Antonio, etc. draw their swords]
You fools! I and my fellows
Are ministers of Fate: the elements,
Of whom your swords are temper’d, may as well
Wound the loud winds, or with bemock’d-at stabs
Kill the still-closing waters, as diminish
One dowle that’s in my plume: my fellow ministers
Are like invulnerable. If you could hurt,
Your swords are now too massy for your strengths
And will not be uplifted. But remember, —
For that’s my business to you — that you three
From Milan did supplant good Prospero;
(i)Why does Ariel call Alonso and Sebastian fools? What does Ariel say to show that their swords are powerless?
(ii)What harm did these courtiers do to Prospero?
(iii)How does their action anger the sea, its shores and all creatures and with what outcome?
(iv) Give the meaning of:
- …. as diminish
One dowle that’s in my plume:
- Your swords are now too massy for your strengths
(v)What does Prospero say about Ariel’s work?Marks:10
(i)On seeing Ariel in the form of a harpy, a mythical beast having the head of a woman and the body, wings, and talons of an eagle, Alonso, Sebastian and Antonio draw their swords out. Ariel mocks at them and calls them sinful men. Ariel calls them fools and says that he and his spirits are the agents of Fate. They will not be able to cut even a feather from his wings.
(ii)Prospero was the legitimate king of Milan. Antonio, the treacherous and ambitious brother hatched a conspiracy to usurp his brother’s dukedom. Alonso was the sworn enemy of Prospero and he got an annual tribute of money from Antonio for supporting him. They expel Prospero from his dukedom along with his three year old daughter, Miranda in a dilapidated boat.
(iii) The sinful act done by the three men to Prospero angered the heavenly powers. They did not forget to punish the three of them. They had just delayed in punishing them which is more painful. They have stirred up the sea and the shore and all living things against their safety. The heavenly powers have also deprived Alonso of his son. The agony that he would face now is more painful than immediate death.
(iv)(a) Ariel mocks at the three men and says that their swords are useless against him. They would be more successful swinging them at the empty air, or stabbing at water, than trying to cut off even one of his feathers.
(b)Ariel addresses the three men and says that he being the agent of ‘Fate’ cannot be harmed by them. His two companions were also just as invulnerable as he was. Even if they had the power to hurt them, they would find their swords far too heavy to lift.
(v)Prospero is overwhelmed with the role Played by Ariel as a harpy. He praised him for being fierce but graceful at the same time. Ariel conveyed whatever Prospero wanted to say. He did it in the same lifelike way, and with the same attention to detail. He also praised his lower-ranking servants who did what they were supposed to do.
Give us kind keepers, heavens! What were these?
A living drollery. Now I will believe
That there are unicorns; that in Arabia
There is one tree, the phoenix’ throne, one phoenix
At this hour reigning there.
I’ll believe both;
And what does else want credit, come to me,
And I’ll be sworn ’tis true. travelers ne’er did lie,
Though fools at home condemn ’em.
If in Naples
I should report this now, would they believe me?
(i)What strange spectacle has Alonso seen because of which he is perturbed? What help does he implore?
(ii) Why does Sebastian call the
spectacle as the living drollery?
(iii)What are unicorns and phoenix?
(iv)What stories did the travellers in the Middle Ages narrate? Why did Antonio swear to believe in such stories?
(v)If Gonzalo were to tell such stories in Naples, would the people believe them? Why?Marks:10
(i) Alonso and the courtiers witness several strange shapes entering, bringing in a banquet table and dancing around it with graceful, welcoming movements. They invite Alonso and the others to eat, they leave. Alonso is unable to guess why the guardian angels have appeared.
(ii) According to Sebastian, the arrival of the spirits with the banquet was a puppet show with living actors. He says that he would now believe the existence of unicorns and phoenix.
(iii) Unicorns were non-existent animals believed to have a horse’s body and a single, straight horn on their head.
Phoenix was a mythical bird from Arabian legend. Only one phoenix lives at any time, and every 100 years it explodes in fire and regenerates from its own ashes. A symbol of resurrection and rebirth.
(iv) The travellers of the Middle Ages narrated stories of strange creatures in the island. These monsters had fleshy outgrowths like bulls and throats descending in a bag of flesh or there were such men whose heads stood in their breasts. After seeing the spirits with the banquet, Antonio agrees with Sebastian on the existence of anything that is incredible.
(v) Having witnessed the banquet brought by the spirits, Gonzalo thinks that if he describes this at Naples, the people would never believe him. Though they look like monsters they are more gentle and kind in their manners than the human beings.