Shakespeare generally interspersed his serious plays with scenes of comic overtone. Unlike classical dramatists, who believed in the intensity of unrelieved serious action, Shakespeare had his own technique of increasing the intensity of serious action by using comic relief in between two serious scenes. In this way he provided relief to the strained nerves of his audience as well as created greater impact with the next serious scene to fellow.
The Tempest is a Romance and not a Comedy. So we do not come across scenes which would create roars of laughter. But we certainly come across scenes here and there which provide some fun and farce.
After the terrible roar of the sea-storm in the first scene of Act I there follows the serious Scene 2 of conversation between Prospero and Miranda. 1n the course of this scene there comes the charming scene of the sudden outburst of love between Miranda and Ferdinand. Scene 1 of Act II opens with a light talk between Alonso, Antonio, Sebastian, Adrian and others. In this scene we come across an exchange of witty remarks and Gonzalo’s utopia of an ideal commonwealth made up of “contraries.” These provide a bit of fun. Then there follows a wicked plot to kill Alonso and Gonzalo, made by Antonio and Sebastian. This plot is, however, defeated by Ariel. We get some delight from the frustration of the plot. ‘
Scene 2 of Act II provides plenty of fun. Trinculo, the jester, hides himself under the garment of Caliban. Stephano, the drunken butler, enters with a bottle of wine in his hand. Stephano pours a little wine into Caliban’s mouth and the first sip of the “celestial liquor” has a magical effect on Caliban who looks upon Stephano as a “brave god” and is ready to be Stephano’s “true subject.” Caliban thinks that Stephano has “dropped from heaven” and he gets ready to kiss Stephano’s foot. Stephano finds himself a candidate for kingship of the desolate island and Caliban sings his song of “freedom” and “hey-day.”
Scene 1:of Act III is the log-carrying scene which ends with a Promise on the part of Ferdinand and Miranda to be “husband” and “Wife”. In Scene 2 of Act III we again meet Stephano, Trinculo and Caliban. This scene gives us fun and makes us laugh. Caliban licks the foot of the “valiant” Stephano. Caliban’s eyes are “set in his head” on account of his drinking. Caliban asks Stephano to kill his Cruel master, Prospero. Ariel enters unseen and creates a war of Words between Stephano and Trinculo. Stephano now sits on his imaginary throne with a crown on his head and Miranda by his side as his queen and with Trinculo and Caliban as his viceroys.
They take delight in their “excellent plot” to kill Prospero and sing a merry song of madness caused by wine.
Scene 3 of Act III provides drollery. A banquet is served for Alonso and others and before they can eat it, it vanishes and the party is befooled. Ariel invisibly scolds the sinners.
In Scene 1 of Act IV there is the glorious masque in which gods desses appear to bless the love of Ferdinand and Miranda with peace, plenty and prosperity. Stephano, Trinculo and Caliban whom Ariel has ducked into a pond to punish their wicked conspiracy to kill Prospero again enter. Stephano and Trinculo are sorry to lose their bottles of wine, but-are delighted to see rich garments at the en~ trance of Prospero’s cell. They steal some of them but elflsh hounds created by Prospero and Ariel attack and pursue them and we cannot but laugh at the scene.
Act V brings reconciliation and reunion and the happy end of the play.
Thus, there is some comic relief in The Tempest though it is slight.