Prospero and the magic show : Prospcro is pleased with Ferdinand for having stood the trial. In offering his daughter to him, he remarks that this gift make more than amends for all Ferdinand‘s suffering. He prays to be excused for boasting her off, as he really believes that she IS beyond all praise. Prospero warns Ferdinand against defiling the purity of love by coming together before their marriage, in the event of which their union will result in hate, disdain and discord. Ferdinand makes a solemn promise to respect the sanctity of love by all means.
Ariel now approaches Prospero, of course invisible to Ferdinand and Miranda. PmSpero, desiring to amuse the young couple with a show of his magic art, bids Ariel summon a band of spirits immediately to the place. Then he dismisses Ariel and turning to Ferdinand again, warns him against indulging in wanton sports oi love.
Now enters Iris, the Goddess of the rainbow and messenger of the gods; she summons Ceres (Mother-Earth) from her favourite haunts, rich fields of wheat, rye, barely, etc., mountain slopes, hay fields and river banks, overgrown with marigolds and sedges, ‘broomgroves’ and vineyards and the sterile and rocky seashore; she bids Ceres come and entertain Juno who is coming there with her peacocks. Ceres soon appears and learns that she has been summoned to celebrate true contract of love, she expresses her unwillingness to meet Venus and Cupid, whose company she has shunned since they helped Dis (the King of the lower regions) in carrying off her daughter (Proserpina). Iris sets her mind at ease by telling her that Venus and Cupid tried to do some mischief here. but failing in their purpose, had retreated.
soon Ceres is joined by Juno and both bestow their blessings upon Ferdinand and Miranda-Juno gifts of honour, riches, happiness in marriage and Ceres presents plenty of earth’s produce. Then Iris summons the water-nymphs and reapers; they jam in a dance, Suddenly Prospero waves off the show. He is greatly agitated. Howcver, Prospero gets calmer in a moment and converses on the transitoriness of earthly things, comparable to the vision which he called up by his magic, and had faded away a minute ago. And then he goes on to say :
“We are such stuff ‘ As dreams are made on, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep. “
Bidding Ferdinand and Miranda to retire to his cell and waits for Ariel.
The Conspiracy of Caliban and it’s Result: Prospero knows about Caliban’s plot. Ariel relates how he has led them (i.e., Caliban Stephano and Trinculo) a merry dance by his music through “toothed briers, sharp furzes, pricking gorse and thorns,” and left them in a foul and stinking pool, a little beyond his cell. Prospero praises him for his feat and bids him hand out the trumpery in his house on a tree as a trap for them. Caliban. Stephano and Trinculo appear, all dripping wet, while Prospero and Ariel remain invisible. Caliban prays them tread softly lest they may wake Prospero, whom, he supposes to be asleep. He promises Stephano a prize that will make the loss of his bottle, and is prepared to go back to look for it, while Caliban is anxious that they should lose no more time in carrying out their plot. They soon discover ‘the trumpery’ (dresses) hung on a lime-tree. Trinculo and Stephano began to pull off the garments. Caliban is annoyed with their fondness for such stuff, and gets impatient at the delay. Suddenly they are set upon by spirits in the shape of dogs. They hear the cries of invisible hunters encouraging the dogs, and are hunted up and down.
Critical Comments :
The interest of the play flags. It is but feebly eked out by the masque. The masque is certainly apart of the main action, leading up to the union of the two houses, Milan and Naples and the happiness of Ferdinand and Miranda, the central theme of the play. The masque, while emphasising again the dominance of the supernatural element in the play, points to its connection with some marriage-festivities in high circles or Shakespeare’s time. The second part of the scene shows the thicrous ending of the plot that was formed by Caliban with Stephano and Trinculo. It may be noted that the plot failed to raise our interest from the beginning as the end had been known to us beforehand . The tugging by Stephano and Trinculo at the tram hung on the lime-tree provides, no doubt, some fun; but it is certainly as excellent as the scene in which Trinculo creeps under the garbadine of Caliban where Stephano subsequently pours wine into the two mouths, and at last pulls out Trmcuio by the leg.
To sum up :
(1) The flagging of interest.
(2) The connection the masque with the main action of the play, while it is a part the supernatural machinery of the play.
(3) Except for providing some fun, the conspiracy, the failure of which is foreseen, has very little interest.