Gonzalo attempts to comfort Alonso by saying that all of them have reasons to be thankful for their miraculous escape, but Alonso rather desires to be let alone. Sebastian and Antonio begin to chaff Gonzalo, and lay wager as to which of the two -Gonzalo and Adrian, both of whom seek to divert the sad thoughts of Alonso, will first start talking. Adrian begins first and Gonzalo joins him in a discourse on the island, in the course of which Gonzalo points out that their garments, though drenched in water, are as fresh and bright as they were, when worn first at the marriage of Alonso’s daughter to the King of Tunis (here we learn for the first time that during the voyage homewards after the conclusion of the Marriage the ship is wrecked off Prospero’s island. The question whether Tunis is Carthage engages their attention for some time, and all the while Sebastian and Antonio scoff at Gonzalo.
Alonso’s Grief : Alonso is little comforted by their discourse. He regrets having ever had designed to marry his daughter to the King of Tunis with the result that he has lost his daughter “who is so far from Italy removed,” and his son too who perished in the shipwreck, F rancisco assures him that he had seen his son swim for his life, and believes that he must have landed safe. Sebastian reminds Alonso that it is by his own fault that he has lost his son and daughter, for the late calamity would not have occurred if Alonso had not married his daughter against her will to the King of Tunis. Gonzalo prays Sebastian to inflict no more torture upon Alonso and seeks to divert his grief by expatiating more his theory of commonwealth and the manner, if he had an opportunity, in which he would run the commonwealth-a discourse which calls forth only ironical comments from Antonio and Sebastian, but in which Alonso is little interested.
Gonzalo take their comments good-humouredly and expresses his Willingness to provide good mirth to them. In the meantime, Ariel enters playing solemn music, as the result of which they fall asleep one by one except Sebastian and Antonio.
Conspiracy of Antonio and Sebastian : While all others are asleep, Antonio and Sebastian keep awake. Antonin, by indirect hints and innuendos, half persuades Sebastian to rise against Alonso, though at first Sebastian pretends not to understand him. As he believes that Alonso‘s has perished, Antonio persuades Sebastian that he has a great chance now, and points out that it is not likely that Claribel, the King’s daughter, will claim the crown of Naples from across the seas. Sebastian agrees to follow the example of Antonio, who supplanted his brother, and who, as he now understands, is little troubled with conscience and openly suggests to Sebastian the thought of murder. And they draw their swords and prepare to despatch both Alonso and Gonzalo when Ariel appears again and wake up Gonzalo by singing a tune in his ear. Gonzalo starts up with the cry : ‘Good angels preserve the king.’ Alonso wakes up and is surprised to see Antonio and Sebastian with drawn swords. They tell a story, viz., that they heard “a hollow burst of bellowing” like that of bull or lions, while Gonzalo says that he had , heard only humming after which he woke up the King. They then moved away from that part of the island. Ariel at once hastens to Prospero to report the new developments.
Critical Comments :
For a time our attention is withdrawn from Miranda and Ferdianand. Prospero also drops out; but he is the presiding genius over all that happens even in this part of the island. This scene reveals the character of Antonio of Whose misdeeds we have heard only from the lips of Prospero. A further confirmation of his Villainy is necessary. We now witness the conspiracy, which he suggests to, and in which he assists, Sebastian. But human power or human Will is of little use against the enchantment which holds the island in its grip ; and so the conspiracy fails.
In Gonzalo, we have the type of traditional loyalty, and our sympathy goes to him in his attempt at diverting the king’s mind he is riddled with the jeers and scoffs of Antonio and Sebastian. Gonzalo and Adrian, good and loyal men, are particularly contrasted with the wicked men, Antonio and Sebastian. Grief works as a gentle spirit in Alonso, and as we shall see, out of this much good is to follow.
To sum up :
(1) The survivors of the ship-wreck, from whom Ferdinand alone is separated and hence the disconsolate grief of Alonso.
(2) The confirmation of the villainy of Antonio.
(3) The supremacy of Prospero’s magic and hence the failure of the human conspiracy.
(4) Contrasting of characters-Gonzalo and Adrian against Antonio and Sebastian.
(5) The gentle spirit wrought in Alonso is preliminary to his repentance for his association in Antonio’s crime against Prospero.