The final scene of forgiveness and reconcilement : Prospero is glad to see that his project is almost complete, that his enemies are absolutely at his mercy, that his spirits are obedient like Ariel. It is nearly six o’clock when Ariel is to be released, but he has yet one more task to perform. The King and his followers are under Prospero’s spell. They have been left prisoners by Ariel in the lime-grove which “weather-fends” Prospero’s cell, and Ariel, though a spirit, seems to have been touched by their wild grief and terror, which he now describes to Prospero; Prospero declares his intention to forgive them all, for being “one of their kind” he naturally feels for them more than Ariel.
Prospero then addresses the spirits of “hills, brooks, standing lakes and groves”, abjures the magic power by means of which he has so long commanded their services. The last use that he makes of it is to produce some heavily music for the restoration of the senses of his enemies as they are brought in by Ariel. They all stand in the magic circle which Prospero has made for them. As he works off their trance, he addresses them one by one, in the course of which he refers to the loyalty of Gonzalo. to the wrong clone to him by Alonso, aided by his brother Sebastian, and lastly. to the treachery of his own brother. But they cannot yet recognise him. He then puts his magic robes off and with Ariel’s help, dresses himself as the former Duke of Milan. Alonso though not yet fully satisfied of his identity, promises his dukedom back to him and asks his forgiveness. Prospero first embraces Gonzalo. Then in an aside. to Sebastian and Antonio he tells that he is aware of their conspiracy against the King Alonso. promising however. to tell no tales. He unreservedlv forgives his brother his foulest crime. Alonso desires to hear particulars of his story which Prospero reserves for the future and in this connection Alonso cannot help referring to the loss of his dear son, which Prospero matches by the story of the lbss of his daughter in the last tempest.
Alonso wishes that his son and Prospero’s daughter had been alive at this hour to have been the King and Queen of Naples-a declaration that certainly pleases Prospero, and which he perhaps wished secretly to hear. Even then the company appear to be all dazed and bewildered. Prospero however, welcomes them and bids them follow him to his cell.
Ferdinand and Miranda playing at chess : When Alonso sees his own son, playing chess with a most exquisitely beautiful maiden, he cannot believe his eyes, and does not know whether he would take it to be a vision of the island. Ferdinand at once kneels to him. Miranda exclaims in wonder, beholding so how “many goodly creatures,”-the revelation of a new world to her. Ferdinand, in introducing Miranda to his father, acquaints him with the fact of his engagement with her. Gonzalo, deeply moved by such happy termination of events, prays for the blessings of the gods upon the couple. Alonso says ‘Amen.’
The Master and the boatswain, brought in by Ariel-As soon as Gonzalo beholds the boatswain, he points to the fulfilment of his prophecy that the fellow is reserved for hanging on land. The boatswain is glad to see the King and his company safe and reports that the ship which was given up for lost, is now “tight and yare,’ but he is unable to explain how it all came about; so far as he remembers, all the mariners were clapped under hatches where they were dead asleep until they were waked by a confused din and roar, and then found the ship to be all right, at which the master”. danced in joy. Alonso remarks that the whole affair is a mystery,‘ and nothing can throw light on it except some revelation from the gods. Prospero promises to satisfy him when he is alone at leisure. He has yet to set Caliban and his associates free.
Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo brought in by Ariel: All three are still reeling under the influence of drink. Stephano cries : “Let every man shift for all the rest,” and nobody care for himself. Trinculo is in doubt whether he should believe the evidence of his eyes. Caliban trembles in fear of his master, now in the duke’s robes. Both Sebastian and Antonio marvel at the lish-like appearance of Caliban. Prospero tells the story of the origin of Caliban and of h’ls plot with his two associates against his life; the two later, being seized With cramp, know to their cost the result of aspiring to the lordship of the island; Caliban is hidden to tidy up the cell for the company. Prospero then invites the King and his train to his cell where they are to spend the night which he will beguile with the story of his life. He promises to bring them in the morning to their ship, and then they Will all proceed to Naples whence, he declares; he will retire to ‘Milan to prepare for the last day of his life after having seen Miranda wedded to Ferdinand. At last he releases Ariel, all his tasks having been accomplished.
Critical Comments :
The action of the play leads up to the scam of forgiveness and reconciliation in the light of which the significance of the ‘Project’ that Prospero has been pursuing becomes obvious to us. The supernatural machinery which enter; so much into the structure of the play is not discarded till the end, and it might indeed take a little away from the human interest, but it is certainly allied to the most beneficent human purposes viz., the awakening of remorse in the evil doer, vindicating the wrongs.
The culmination of the love-interest in the play is reached in the chess-play between Ferdinand and Miran a-a scene exquisite in their unsophisticated love-making. Perhaps, the most humanitarian aspect in The Tempest is the love between Ferdinand and Miranda, and we see how it is an important part of Prospero’s project, and how it springs from, and blends with the main action of the play.
Prospero’s character is shown at its best here. We have to revise our impression of his character from previous acts. He may be testing a bit and acted like an autocrat as it appeared from his previous behaviour with Ariel and Ferdinand, but in the last Act we see his divine forgiveness which certainly outweigh his minor faults.
To sum up :
(1) The final scenes of forgiveness and reconciliation towards which the whole action ends.
(2) The use of supernatural means continued till the end, but it had always been allied to beneficent purposes.
(3) The human interest of the play connected with the love of Ferdinand and Miranda.
(4) The chess-play.
(5) Prospero’s character shown at its best.
(6) An autobiographical significance attached to Prospero’s breaking off his magic staff.