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Act I, ii

Quote

Miranda:  Abhorred slave, Which any print of goodness wilt not take, Being capable of all ill! I pitied thee, Took pains to make thee speak, taught thee each hour One thing or other. When thou didst not, savage, Know thine own meaning, but would gabble like A thing most brutish, I endowed thy purposes With word that made them known. But thy vile race, Though thou didst learn, had that in’t which good natures Could not abide to be with

Caliban: You taught me language; and my profi t on’t Is, I know how to curse. Th e red plague rid you For learning me your language!

Meaning

This passage lets us know that Miranda has also contributed towards Caliban’s education. Miranda is pointing out the ignorance of Caliban which won’t receive any good but can do all kinds of ill.

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She says that without language Caliban also didn’t know his own essence but the words which she taught him have introduced him to purposes. It is the point of view of Miranda and Prospero too that good nature can’t reside in Caliban.

But Caliban says that he has not profited much apart from knowing how to curse them. His slavery is much worse than any language he may ever learn.

Act II, i

Quote

Gonzalo: I’ th’ Commonwealth I would by contraries Execute all things: For no kind of traffic Would I admit; no name of magistrate; Letters should not be known; riches, poverty, And use of service, none; contract, succession, Born, bound of land, tilth, vineyard none: No use of metal, corn, or wine, or oil; No occupation, all men idle, all; And women too, but innocent and pure: No sovereignty. . . . All things in common nature should produce Without sweat or endeavor. Treason, felony, Sword, pike, knife, gun, or need of any engine Would I not have; but nature should bring forth Of it own kind, all foison, all abundance, To feed my innocent people.

Meaning

Here, looking at the island, the wise Gonzalo is imagining a utopia. In a wishful manner, he daydreams that in his commonwealth, there will be no division of wealth.

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There will be no slavery. No one will have to work in this cruel modern way but all can rest equally and work equally without having to work harder for creating rest for someone else. There will be abundance to feed all and all will be innocent by nature.

Act II, ii

Quote

Caliban: I’ll show thee the best springs; I’ll pluck thee berries; I’ll fish for thee and get thee wood enough. . . . I prithee, let me bring thee where crabs grow; And I with my long nails will dig thee pignuts; Show thee a jay’s nest and instruct thee how To snare the nimble marmoset; I’ll bring thee To clustering fi lberts and sometimes I’ll get thee Young scamels from the rock.

Meaning

This is a very realistic description of the island. Caliban is promising to show the best of everything. Like a rustic boy, he promises to bring berries for them.

It also indicates his long nails with which he will dis pignuts and show them natural habitats of island animals like Jaybird. He will show them a marmoset and all other kinds of stuff.

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Act III, ii

Quote

Caliban: Be not afeared, the isle is full of noises, Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not: Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments Will hum about mine ears; and sometime voices, Th at if I then had waked after long sleep, Will make me sleep again, and then in dreaming, Th e clouds methought would open, and show riches Ready to drop upon me, that when I wak’d I cried to dream again.

Meaning

Caliban, who is supposed to be cruel and savage, reveals his sensibilities here. He describes the nature of the island which may look unfamiliar but is harmless.

He introspects that it is full of such soothing condition that he sleeps beautifully and dreams so nicely that on waking up, he starts missing that world of dream. It simply means that it is so safe and sound that one sleeps in a deep and healthy manner.

Act III, iii

Quote

Ariel:  But remember— For that’s my business to you—that you three From Milan did supplant good Prospero…Lingering perdition, worse than any death Can be at once, shall step by step attend You and your ways; whose wraths to guard you from— Which here, in this most desolate isle, else falls Upon your heads—is nothing but heart-sorrow And a clear life ensuing.

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Meaning

Ariel is invisibly addressing to Alonso and his group caught in the magic of Prospero. He warns them that only repentance can lighten the punishment which they deserve for the wrong which they committed while banishing Prospero from his dukedom.

He tells them that when Prospero is going to forgive them, they must purge themselves by feeling the sorrow and only then a clear life may ensue.

Act IV, i

Quote

Prospero: … Th ese our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits, and Are melted into air, into thin air; And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, Th e cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces, Th e solemn temples, the great globe itself, Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff As dreams are made on, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep.

Meaning

Here, after the masque, Prospero is saying how everything is fleeting and now for always. He is saying that we are mere vehicles through which substance is given to insubstantial.

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Our life is nothing more than like asleep, it vanishes and we try our best to keep something beyond us but everything is swept away with time.

Act V, i

Quote

Prospero:  And mine shall. Hast thou, which art but air, a touch, a feeling Of their affl  ictions, and shall not myself, One of their kind, that relish all as sharply, Passion as they, be kindlier moved than thou art? Th ough with their high wrongs I am struck to the quick, Yet with my nobler reason ’gaitist my fury Do I take part.

Meaning

Prospero answering to Ariel says that yes he will be compassionate. It reveals that he is going to forgive them in the end. It shows his forgiveness. For him, the reason is nobler but he is going to work against his fury.

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Act V, i

Quote

Prospero: Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes and groves… is airy charm is for, I’ll break my staff , Bury it certain fathoms in the earth, And deeper than did ever plummet sound I’ll drown my book.

Meaning

Here, Prospero is counting his magical capacities. He can even bring back dead from its grave. His magical power can shake and pluck the biggest of trees. He can intervene in natural forces.

Symbolically, it says about everything he has done in the play and Shakespeare in his works. One can identify these fanciful accomplishments with Shakespeare’s in his great creations. 

Act V, i

Quote

Gonzalo: Was Milan thrust from Milan, that his issue Should become Kings of Naples? O rejoice Beyond a common joy, and set it down With gold on lasting pillars. In one voyage Did Claribel her husband fi nd at Tunis, And Ferdinand her brother, found a wife, Where he himself was lost: Prospero, his dukedom In a poor isle; and all of us, ourselves, When no man was his own.

Meaning

Gonzalo is saying that when people do wrongful acts, they must have lost themselves in such times, then they don’t belong to even themselves. They are truly in their real selves while living in harmony.

From Claribel and her husband to Ferdinand finding his wife on the island, everything got settled only in harmony and generosity.

Act V, i

Quote

Epilogue (Prospero): Now my charms are all o’erthrown, And what strength I have’s mine own, Which is most faint… Now I want Spirits to enforce, art to enchant, And my ending is despair, Unless I be relieved by prayer, Which pierces so that it assaults Mercy itself and frees all faults. As you from crimes would pardon’d be, Let your indulgence set me free.

Meaning

At the end of the play, the actor acting the character of Prospero comes out and does the conventional job of asking the audience’s applause.

He has abandoned his power and now he is modestly transferring that to the audience. He asks them now to let him leave the bond of their imagination.

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