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Quotes in The Tempest

Quotes Examples in The Tempest:

Act I - Scene II

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"No wonder, sir, But certainly a maid...."   (Act I - Scene II)

Miranda and Ferdinand both initially mistake each other for spirits—Miranda hasn't ever seen a human male besides her old father, and Ferdinand thinks Miranda is so beautiful that she can't possibly be a human woman. Shakespeare alludes to Aeneas's first glimpse of Venus disguised as a girl when he was shipwrecked at Carthage.

"He was indeed the duke..."   (Act I - Scene II)

Prospero reveals the story of how he and his daughter, Miranda, came to be stranded on the island. As the Duke of Milan, Prospero was far more interested in reading than politics. He spent his time studying while his brother, Antonio, oversaw daily operations and otherwise managed the dukedom—so effectively, it seems, that he managed to usurp Prospero's power and set he and Miranda (then three-years-old) out to sea.

"Abhorrèd slave, Which any print of goodness wilt not take, Being capable of all ill! ..."   (Act I - Scene II)

Miranda and Prospero express anger that their "education" of Caliban has done very little to civilize him. However, their indignation fails to take into account both Caliban's history and the irony in their form of "civilization." Caliban was a free spirit who has now been forced into slavery. What they are calling his freedom from savagery ironically becomes his imprisonment in servitude. Caliban's character becomes more sympathetic through this lens of injustice.

"Whereof what's past is prologue; what to come In yours and my discharge...."   (Act II - Scene I)

Antonio’s “what’s past is prologue” translates to the idea that what has occurred sets the scene for the main action or details that are “to come.” More importantly, Antonio believes that he and Sebastian can control the events that will unfold. He attempts to persuade Sebastian to murder his sleeping father, Alonso, the King of Naples, so that Sebastian can take the kingship.

"All the infections that the sun sucks up From bogs, fens, flats, on Prosper fall, and make him By inch-meal disease! ..."   (Act II - Scene II)

Having been enslaved by Prospero on the island that is supposedly his inheritance, Caliban is portrayed as an angry character. Here Caliban boldly expresses his hatred towards Prospero by cursing him, hoping that all possible infections from “bogs, fens, flats,” or, in other words, wet muddy grounds and swampy areas will cause Prospero to rot away “inch-meal” or little by little.

"Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows...."   (Act II - Scene II)

Trinculo, realizing that he has stumbled upon a man instead of what he initially thought was a fish, decides to crawl into the man’s cloak as a form of shelter from the storm and rain. His statement expresses the idea that in miserable or terrible situations, one will meet bizarre people or “strange bedfellows.”

"We are such stuff As dreams are made on, and our little life(175) Is rounded with a sleep...."   (Act IV)

Prospero’s metaphor refers to the pageant he has produced on the island using his knowledge of magic. He believes that in the end everything will “dissolve” into nothingness. After all, people are the “stuff” or substance that dreams are “made on,” or build of. “Little” suggests that people’s lives are insignificant, and ultimately their lives are “rounded,” or completed, by sleep; these words briefly touch on human mortality.

"Why, that's my dainty Ariel! I shall miss thee, But yet thou shalt have freedom..."   (Act V)

Prospero finally sets Ariel free with these words. Though certain earlier scenes in the play may suggest that the relationship between Prospero and Ariel could be interpreted as a form of slavery, Prospero’s word choice here clearly shows that the relationship is very different from the hate-filled one between Prospero and Caliban. Prosper calls Ariel a “dainty,” or excellent, spirit and admits that he will miss Ariel.

"This thing of darkness I(320) Acknowledge mine...."   (Act V)

Prospero’s statement further reinforces the master and slave relationship between him and Caliban. Also, calling Caliban a “thing of darkness” reveals Prospero’s disgust towards the slave; at the same time, the three words dehumanize and demonize Caliban.

"How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world That has such people in't!..."   (Act V)

Miranda’s first impression of humankind reflects her overwhelming innocence that has resulted from being stranded on the island for twelve years with only Prospero and Caliban. Miranda calls the men from the shipwreck “beauteous,” showing her shallow knowledge of humankind. At the same time, seeing other humans has created a “brave new world” in her mind. “Brave” in this context refers to “fine,” “noble,” and “splendid.”

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