Act III - Scene III

Another part of the island.

[Enter Alonso, Sebastian, Antonio, Gonzalo, Adrian, and Francisco]

[to Alonso] By'r lakin, I can go no further, sir.
My old bones ache. Here's a maze trod indeed
Through forthrights and meanders! By your patience,
I needs must rest me.
Old lord, I cannot blame thee,(5)
Who am myself attached with weariness,
To th’ dulling of my spirits. Sit down and rest.
Even here I will put off my hope, and keep it
No longer for my flatterer. He is drowned
Whom thus we stray to find, and the sea mocks(10)
Our frustrate search on land. Well, let him go.

[They sit]

[aside to Sebastian] I am right glad that he's so out
of hope.
Do not for one repulse forgo the purpose
That you resolved t'effect.(15)
[aside to Antonio] The next advantage
Will we take throughly.
[aside to Sebastian] Let it be tonight;
For now they are oppressed with travel. They
Will not, nor cannot, use such vigilance(20)
As when they are fresh
[aside to Antonio] I say tonight. No more.

[Solemn and strange music]

[Enter Prospero, invisible]

What harmony is this? My good friends, hark!
Marvellous sweet music!

[Enter several strange shapes, bringing in a banquet; they dance about it with gentle actions of salutation; and, inviting the King and his companions to eat, they depart]

Give us kind keepers, heavens! What were these?(25)
A living drollery. Now I will believe
That there are unicorns, that in Arabia
There is one tree, the phoenix’ throne, one phoenix
At this hour reigning there.
I'll believe both;(30)
And what does else want credit, come to me,
And I'll be sworn ’tis true. Travellers ne'er did lie,
Though fools at home condemn ’em.
If in Naples
I should report this now, would they believe me’(35)
If I should say I saw such islanders?
For certes these are people of the island,
Who, though they are of monstrous shape, yet note,
Their manners are more gentle-kind than of
Our human generation you shall find(40)
Many, nay, almost any.
[aside] Honest lord,
Thou hast said well, for some of you there present
Are worse than devils.
I cannot too much muse.(45)
Such shapes, such gesture, and such sound, expressing—
Although they want the use of tongue, a kind
Of excellent dumb discourse.
[aside] Praise in departing.
They vanished strangely.(50)
No matter, since
They have left their viands behind, for we have stomachs.
Will't please you taste of what is here?
Not I.
Faith, sir, you need not fear. When we were boys,(55)
Who would believe that there were mountaineers
Dewlapped like bulls, whose throats had hanging at ’em
Wallets of flesh? Or that there were such men
Whose heads stood in their breasts? Which now we find
Each putter-out of five for one will bring us(60)
Good warrant of.
I will stand to and feed,
Although my last—no matter, since I feel
The best is past. Brother, my lord the Duke,
Stand to, and do as we.(65)

[Alonso, Sebastian, and Antonio approach the table.]

[Thunder and lightning]. Enter Ariel, like a harpy, claps his wings upon the table, and, with a quaint device, the banquet vanishes]

You are three men of sin, whom Destiny,
That hath to instrument this lower world
And what is in't, the never-surfeited sea
Hath caused to belch up you, and on this island
Where man doth not inhabit, you ’mongst men(70)
Being most unfit to live. I have made you mad,
And even with suchlike valour men hang and drown
Their proper selves.

[Alonso, Sebastian, and Antonio draw their swords]

You fools! I and my fellows(75)
Are ministers of Fate. The elements,
Of whom your swords are tempered, may as well
Wound the loud winds, or with bemocked-at stabs
Kill the still-closing waters, as diminish
One dowl that's in my plume. My fellow ministers(80)
Are like invulnerable. If you could hurt,
Your swords are now too massy for your strengths
And will not be uplifted.

[Alonso, Sebastian, and Antonio stand bewildered]

But remember,
For that's my business to you, that you three(85)
From Milan did supplant good Prospero;
Exposed unto the sea, which hath requit it,
Him and his innocent child; for which foul deed,
The powers, delaying, not forgetting, have
Incensed the seas and shores, yea, all the creatures,(90)
Against your peace. Thee of thy son, Alonso,
They have bereft, and do pronounce by me
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—(95)
Which here in this most desolate isle else falls
Upon your heads—is nothing but heart's sorrow
And a clear life ensuing.

[He vanishes in thunder; then, to soft music, enter the shapes again, and dance with mocks and mows, and carrying out the table]

Bravely the figure of this harpy hast thou
Performed, my Ariel; a grace it had devouring.(100)
Of my instruction hast thou nothing bated
In what thou hast to say. So, with good life
And observation strange, my meaner ministers
Their several kinds have done. My high charms work,
And these mine enemies are all knit up(105)
In their distractions. They now are in my power,
And in these fits I leave them, while I visit
Young Ferdinand, whom they suppose is drowned,
And his and mine loved darling.

[Exit above]

I'th’ name of something holy sir, why stand you(110)
In this strange stare?
O, it is monstrous, monstrous!
Methought the billows spoke and told me of it,
The winds did sing it to me, and the thunder,
That deep and dreadful organ-pipe, pronounced(115)
The name of Prosper. It did bass my trespass.
Therefore my son i'th’ ooze is bedded, and
I'll seek him deeper than e'er plummet sounded,
And with him there lie mudded.


But one fiend at a time,(120)
I'll fight their legions o'er.
I'll be thy second.

[Exeunt Sebastian and Antonio]

All three of them are desperate. Their great guilt,
Like poison given to work a great time after,
Now ’gins to bite the spirits. I do beseech you(125)
That are of suppler joints, follow them swiftly,
And hinder them from this ecstasy
May now provoke them to.
Follow, I pray you.



  1. “Viands” are victuals or provisions. Even though the “natives” have vanished, they have left behind their banquet of food.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  2. A “dewlap” is the fold of loose skin which hangs from the throat of cattle. The term can also be used to describe this feature in other animals, or humans.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  3. By “a living drollery,” Sebastian means that the site is a very vivid, odd, and humorous thing, almost like a living puppet show. His surprise at seeing such a display causes him to reflect on whether or not other myths are believable, such as the existence of unicorns or a phoenix.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  4. A “dowl” is one of the fibers of a feather. Ariel essentially implies that the men’s swords are useless, and that they would be better off slashing them at empty air than attempting to cut even one “dowl” from his “plume.”

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  5. The stage action here refers to a “quaint device” that makes the banquet disappear. Since the adjective “quaint” means of skillful or elegant design, then readers can understand that the banquet likely disappears in a magical flourish, leaving the men baffled that it has suddenly left their sight.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor