Act V

Before Prospero's cell.

[Enter Prospero in his magic robes, and Ariel]

Now does my project gather to a head.
My charms crack not, my spirits obey, and time
Goes upright with his carriage. How's the day?
On the sixth hour; at which time, my lord,
You said our work should cease.(5)
I did say so
When first I raised the tempest. Say, my spirit,
How fares the King and's followers?
Confined together
In the same fashion as you gave in charge,(10)
Just as you left them; all prisoners, sir
In the lime-grove which weather-fends your cell;
They cannot budge till your release. The King,
His brother and yours, abide all three distracted,
And the remainder mourning over them,(15)
Brimful of sorrow and dismay; but chiefly
Him that you termed, sir, ’the good old lord Gonzalo:
His tears run down his beard like winter's drops
From eaves of reeds. Your charm so strongly works ’em
That if you now beheld them your affections(20)
Would become tender.
Dost thou think so, spirit?
Mine would, sir, were I human.
And mine shall
Hast thou, which art but air, a touch, a feeling(25)
Of their afflictions, and shall not myself,
One of their kind, that relish all as sharply
Passion as they, be kindlier moved than thou art?
Though with their high wrongs I am struck to th’ quick,
Yet with my nobler reason ’gainst my fury(30)
Do I take part. The rarer action is
In virtue than in vengeance. They being penitent,
The sole drift of my purpose doth extend
Not a frown further. Go release them, Ariel.
My charms I'll break, their senses I'll restore,(35)
And they shall be themselves.
I'll fetch them, sir.


[Prospero draws a magic circle with his staff]

Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes and groves,
And ye that on the sands with printless foot
Do chase the ebbing Neptune and do fly him(40)
When he comes back; you demi-puppets that
By moonshine do the green sour ringlets make,
Whereof the ewe not bites, and you whose pastime
Is to make midnight mushrooms, that rejoice
To hear the solemn curfew; by whose aid,(45)
Weak masters though ye be, I have bedimmed
The noontide sun, called forth the mutinous winds,
And ’twixt the green sea and the azured vault
Set roaring war—to the dread rattling thunder
Have I given fire, and rifted Jove's stout oak(50)
With his own bolt; the strong-based promontory
Have I made shake, and by the spurs plucked up
The pine and cedar: graves at my command
Have waked their sleepers, oped, and let ’em forth
By my so potent art. But this rough magic(55)
I here abjure. And, when I have required
Some heavenly music—which even now I do—
To work mine end upon their senses that
This airy charm is for, I'll break my staff,
Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,(60)
And deeper than did ever plummet sound
I'll drown my book. [Solemn music]

[Re-enter Ariel, followed by Alonso, with a frantic gesture, attended by Gonzalo; Sebastian and Antonio in like manner, attended by Adrian and Francisco. They all enter the circle which Prospero had made, and there stand charmed; which Prospero observing, speaks]

[to Alonso] A solemn air, and the best comforter
To an unsettled fancy, cure thy brains,
Now useless, boiled within thy skull.(65)
[to Sebastian and Antonio] There stand,
For you are spell-stopped.—
Holy Gonzalo, honourable man,
Mine eyes, even sociable to the show of thine,
Fall fellowly drops. [aside] The charm dissolves apace,(70)
And as the morning steals upon the night,
Melting the darkness, so their rising senses
Begin to chase the ignorant fumes that mantle
Their clearer reason.—O good Gonzalo,
My true preserver, and a loyal sir(75)
To him you follow'st! I will pay thy graces
Home both in word and deed. Most cruelly
Didst thou, Alonso, use me and my daughter.
Thy brother was a furtherer in the act—
Thou art pinched for't now, Sebastian.(80)
[to Antonio] Flesh and blood,
You, brother mine, that entertained ambition,
Expelled remorse and nature; whom, with Sebastian—
Whose inward pinches therefore are most strong,—
Would here have killed your king; I do forgive thee,(85)
Unnatural though thou art. [Aside] Their understanding
Begins to swell, and the approaching tide
Will shortly fill the reasonable shore
That now lie foul and muddy. Not one of them
That yet looks on me, or would know me—Ariel,(90)
Fetch me the hat and rapier in my cell:
I will discase me, and myself present
As I was sometime Milan. Quickly, spirit!
Thou shalt ere long be free.

[Ariel sings and helps to attire him as Duke of Milan]

Where the bee sucks, there suck I:(95)
In a cowslip's bell I lie;
There I couch when owls do cry.
On the bat's back I do fly
After summer merrily.
Merrily, merrily shall I live now(100)
Under the blossom that hangs on the bough.
Why, that's my dainty Ariel! I shall miss thee,
But yet thou shalt have freedom—So, so, so.—
To the King's ship, invisible as thou art!(105)
There shalt thou find the mariners asleep
Under the hatches. The Master and the Boatswain
Being awake, enforce them to this place,
And presently, I prithee.
I drink the air before me, and return(110)
Or ere your pulse twice beat.


All torment, trouble, wonder, and amazement
Inhabits here. Some heavenly power guide us
Out of this fearful country!
Behold, sir King,(115)
The wrongéd Duke of Milan, Prospero:
For more assurance that a living prince
Does now speak to thee, I embrace thy body;
And to thee and thy company I bid
A hearty welcome.(120)

[He embraces Alonso]

Whe'er thou beest he or no,
Or some enchanted trifle to abuse me,
As late I have been, I not know. Thy pulse
Beats as of flesh and blood; and, since I saw thee,
Th’ affliction of my mind amends, with which(125)
I fear a madness held me. This must crave,
An if this be at all—a most strange story.
Thy dukedom I resign, and do entreat
Thou pardon me my wrongs. But how should Prospero
Be living and be here?(130)
[to Gonzalo] First, noble friend,
Let me embrace thine age, whose honour cannot
Be measured or confined. [He embraces Gonzalo]
Whither this be
Or be not, I'll not swear.(135)
You do yet taste
Some subtilties o'th’ isle that will not let you
Believe things certain.—Welcome, my friends all!

[aside to Sebastian and Antonio]

But you, my brace of lords, were I so minded,
I here could pluck his highness’ frown upon you(140)
And justify you traitors. At this time
I will tell no tales.


The devil speaks in him.
[to Antonio] For you, most wicked sir, whom to call(145)
Would even infect my mouth, I do forgive
Thy rankest fault, all of them, and require
My dukedom of thee, which perforce I know
Thou must restore.(150)
If thou beest Prospero,
Give us particulars of thy preservation;
How thou hast met us here, who three hours since
Were wrecked upon this shore; where I have lost—
How sharp the point of this remembrance is!—(155)
My dear son Ferdinand.
I am woe for't, sir.
Irreparable is the loss, and patience
Says it is past her cure.
I rather think(160)
You have not sought her help, of whose soft grace
For the like loss I have her sovereign aid,
And rest myself content.
You the like loss?
As great to me as late; and supportable(165)
To make the dear loss have I means much weaker
Than you may call to comfort you, for I
Have lost my daughter.
A daughter?
O heavens, that they were living both in Naples,(170)
The king and queen there! That they were, I wish
Myself were mudded in that oozy bed
Where my son lies. When did you lose your daughter?
In this last tempest. I perceive these lords
At this encounter do so much admire(175)
That they devour their reason and scarce think
Their eyes do offices of truth, these words
Are natural breath. But howsoe'er you have
Been jostled from your senses, know for certain
That I am Prospero, and that very Duke(180)
Which was thrust forth of Milan, who most strangely
Upon this shore, where you were wrecked, was landed
To be the lord on't. No more yet of this,
For ‘tis a chronicle of day by day,
Not a relation for a breakfast, nor(185)
Befitting this first meeting. Welcome, sir.
This cell's my court. Here have I few attendants
And subjects none abroad. Pray you, look in.
My dukedom since you have given me again,
I will requite you with as good a thing;(190)
At least bring forth a wonder to content ye
As much as me my dukedom.

[Here Prospero discovers Ferdinand and Miranda playing at chess]

Sweet lord, you play me false.
No, my dear'st love,
I would not for the world.(195)
Yes, for a score of kingdoms you should wrangle,
And I would call it fair play.
If this prove
A vision of the island, one dear son
Shall I twice lose.(200)
A most high miracle.
Though the seas threaten, they are merciful.
I have cursed them without cause.

[He kneels]

Now all the blessings
Of a glad father compass thee about!(205)
Arise and say how thou cam'st here.

[Ferdinand rises]

O wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world
That has such people in't!(210)
’Tis new to thee.
[to Ferdinand] What is this maid with whom thou
wast at play?
Your eld'st acquaintance cannot be three hours.
Is she the goddess that hath severed us,(215)
And brought us thus together?
Sir, she is mortal;
But by immortal providence she's mine.
I chose her when I could not ask my father
For his advice, nor thought I had one. She(220)
Is daughter to this famous Duke of Milan,
Of whom so often I have heard renown,
But never saw before; of whom I have
Received a second life; and second father
This lady makes him to me.(225)
I am hers.
But O, how oddly will it sound that I
Must ask my child forgiveness!
There, sir, stop.
Let us not burden our remembrance with(230)
A heaviness that's gone.
I have inly wept,
Or should have spoke ere this. Look down, you gods,
And on this couple drop a blessèd crown!
For it is you that have chalked forth the way(235)
Which brought us hither.
I say amen, Gonzalo!
Was Milan thrust from Milan, that his issue
Should become kings of Naples? O rejoice
Beyond a common joy! And set it down(240)
With gold on lasting pillars: in one voyage
Did Claribel her husband find at Tunis,
And Ferdinand, her brother, found a wife
Where he himself was lost; Prospero his dukedom
In a poor isle; and all of ourselves,(245)
When no man was his own
[to Ferdinand and Miranda] Give me your hands.
Let grief and sorrow still embrace his heart
That doth not wish you joy!
Be it so! Amen!(250)

[Re-enter Ariel, with the Master and Boatswain amazedly following]

O look, sir, look, sir! Here is more of us!
I prophesied if a gallows were on land
This fellow could not drown. [to the Boatswain] Now,
That swear'st grace o'erboard: not an oath on shore?(255)
Hast thou no mouth by land? What is the news?
The best news is that we have safely found
Our King and company; the next, our ship,
Which but three glasses since we gave out split,
Is tight and yare and bravely rigged as when(260)
We first put out to sea.
[aside to Prospero] Sir, all this service
Have I done since I went.
[aside to Ariel] My tricksy spirit!
These are not natural events; they strengthen(265)
From strange to stranger. Say, how came you hither?
If I did think, sir, I were well awake
I'd strive to tell you. We were dead of sleep,
And—how we know not—all clapped under hatches,
Where but even now, with strange and several noises(270)
Of roaring, shrieking, howling, jingling chains,
And more diversity of sounds, all horrible,
We were awaked; straightaway at liberty;
Where we, in all her trim, freshly beheld
Our royal, good and gallant ship, our Master:(275)
Cap'ring to eye here. On a trice, so please you,
Even in a dream, were we divided from them,
And were brought moping hither.
[aside to Prospero] Was't well done?
[aside to Ariel] Bravely, my diligence. Thou shalt be(280)
This is as strange a maze as e'er men trod,
And there is in this business more than nature
Was ever conduct of. Some oracle
Must rectify our knowledge.(285)
Sir, my liege,
Do not infest your mind with beating on
The strangeness of this business. At picked leisure
Which shall be shortly, single I'll resolve you,
Which to you shall seem probable, of every(290)
These happen'd accidents; till when be cheerful
And think of each thing well.
[aside to Ariel] Come hither, spirit.
Set Caliban and his companions free.
Untie the spell.(295)

[Exit Ariel]

[to Alonso] How fares my gracious sir?
There are yet missing of your company
Some few odd lads that you remember not.

[Re-enter Ariel, driving in Caliban, Stephano, and Trinculo, in their stolen apparel]

Every man shift for all the rest, and let no man take
care for himself; for all is but fortune. Coragio, bully-(300)
monster, coragio!
If these be true spies which I wear in my head, here's
a goodly sight.
O Setebos, these be brave spirits indeed!
How fine my master is! I am afraid(305)
He will chastise me.
Ha, ha!
What things are these, my lord Antonio?
Will money buy ’em?
Very like; one of them(310)
Is a plain fish, and no doubt marketable.
Mark but the badges of these men, my lords,
Then say if they be true. This misshapen knave,
His mother was a witch, and one so strong
That could control the moon, make flows and ebbs,(315)
And deal in her command without her power.
These three have robbed me, and this demi-devil,
For he's a bastard one, had plotted with them
To take my life. Two of these fellows you
Must know and own. This thing of darkness I(320)
Acknowledge mine.
I shall be pinched to death.
Is not this Stephano, my drunken butler?
He is drunk now. Where had he wine?
And Trinculo is reeling ripe. Where should they(325)
Find this grand liquor that hath gilded ’em?
[to Trinculo] How camest thou in this pickle?
I have been in such a pickle since I saw you last that,
I fear me, will never out of my bones. I shall not fear fly-
Why, how now, Stephano?
O, touch me not! I am not Stephano, but a cramp.
You'd be king o's the isle, sirrah?
I should have been a sore one then.
[pointing to Caliban] This is a strange thing as e'er I(335)
look'd on.
He is as disproportioned in his manners
As in his shape. [to Caliban] Go, sirrah, to my cell.
Take with you your companions. As you look
To have my pardon, trim it handsomely.(340)
Ay, that I will; and I'll be wise hereafter,
And seek for grace. What a thrice-double ass
Was I to take this drunkard for a god,
And worship this dull fool!
Go to, away!(345)

[Exit Caliban]

[to Stephano and Trinculo] Hence, and bestow your lug-
gage where you found it.
Or stole it, rather.

[Exeunt Stephano and Trinculo]

[to Alonso] Sir, I invite your highness and your train
To my poor cell, where you shall take your rest(350)
For this one night; which, part of it, I'll waste
With such discourse as I not doubt shall make it
Go quick away: the story of my life
And the particular accidents gone by
Since I came to this isle. And in the morn(355)
I'll bring you to your ship, and so to Naples,
Where I have hope to see the nuptial
Of these our dear-belovèd solemnized;
And thence retire me to my Milan, where
Every third thought shall be my grave.(360)
I long
To hear the story of your life, which must
Take the ear strangely.
I'll deliver all,
And promise you calm seas, auspicious gales(365)
And sail so expeditious that shall catch
Your royal fleet far off. [aside to Ariel] My Ariel, chick,
That is thy charge. Then to the elements
Be free, and fare thou well!

[Exit Ariel]

Please you, draw near.(370)

[Exeunt all but Prospero]


  1. By “thing of darkness,” Prospero is referring to Caliban. We again see Prospero denying Caliban’s humanity, referring to him as a nonhuman “thing” rather than a man, which Prospero has done numerous times throughout the play. The term “darkness” refers to Caliban’s skin tone, further emphasizing Prospero’s racism. Prospero believes Caliban is his property and treats him as if he were his pet or possession. Considering that the play was written only a few decades before the Atlantic slave trade began, during this time colonizers would have referred to indigenous people as “thing[s]” to justify their enslavement of them. Viewed through this lens, Prospero’s comments echo this imperial mindset.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  2. Notice that all of the characters have been brought together here, even those that have been presumed dead. Gonzalo points out that although the storm wreaked havoc on the group, the natural order has actually been restored: Prospero has regained his dukedom, and Ferdinand and Miranda have fallen in love. Gonzalo again illustrates his caring and optimistic nature here, emphasizing that although the characters have faced much adversity, they have all found themselves even “when no man was his own.” However, while Gonzalo describes the ways in which Italian society has been improved upon by the storm, he ignores the ways in which the natives of the island have been affected. Gonzalo’s celebratory comments may be coming from a place of compassion, but they also indicate his ignorance of and indifference to the plight of the natives.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  3. Ariel’s exclamation here represents her surprise and pleasure at seeing so many new people. However, it also represents how young and naive she is, because many of these men, and humans in general, are cruel, selfish, and treacherous, a fact that Prospero immediately points out in the next line.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  4. Having resolved to free Alonso and the others, Prospero gives a speech about his experiences with magic and concludes that he shall give it up after his final actions by breaking his staff and throwing his books into the ocean. Prospero’s resolution suggests that this must happen in order for him to return to Italy and to restore a natural order and balance of power. A further reading of this passage could represent a symbolic farewell by Shakespeare to the theatre, with magic and the power to write drama as gifts that are not meant to last forever.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  5. Prospero has decided to be more sympathetic, and despite the hurt he feels for Antonio’s past transgressions, this line represents his reasoning that it is better to be virtuous than vengeful. The use of “rarer” here also has a double meaning. While it can refer to something happening less frequently, the word “rare” can also mean something of value or quality. Therefore, acting with compassion and forgiveness is a more important part of being human.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  6. Prospero’s response to Ariel’s inspiring him to be more compassionate towards others once again portrays Ariel in a noble way despite being only “air.” Prospero uses this as a comparison for his humanity and Ariel’s non-humanity, saying that Prospero should sympathize even more for Alonso and the others because they are human, and if Ariel can have such compassion, then Prospero should have even more.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  7. While Prospero does have magical power of his own, Ariel has done nearly all of the work in carrying out Prospero’s plan. In addition to Ariel’s power, he has also acted with more compassion, intelligence, and restraint than most of the characters in the play. Keeping this in mind, it is somewhat ironic that this humble comment reminds the audience that Ariel is not human because of his actions and the advice he gives Prospero. Ariel’s role then, like Caliban’s, can be viewed as another example of a colonized subject, obediently doing Prospero’s work and passively accepting Prospero’s without claiming a right to equal status.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  8. 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.

    — Jane, Owl Eyes Staff
  9. 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.

    — Jane, Owl Eyes Staff
  10. 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.”

    — Jane, Owl Eyes Staff
  11. The world always looks new to the young, but it is really very old and full of specimens of humanity who can hardly be described as "beauteous." Prospero's brief observation should draw laughter from the audience, because most of them have been around for a while and know what the world is like.

    — William Delaney
  12. Aldous Huxley borrowed the title of his best-known novel Brave New World from this enthusiastic exclamation by Miranda. She is young and expects a great deal more of the world than the world has to offer. She has been living on an island for most of her life and knows nothing about the outside world. Huxley's use of Brave New World as his title suggests that people once expected the future world to be wonderful because of all the advances in science and technology, but there have been many adverse developments as well. In The Tempest, Miranda's father, who has had a lot of sobering life experiences, knows that Miranda will have a more realistic view of the world in the future. He doesn't have to tell her what he thinks. She will have to find out for herself. Everybody does.

    — William Delaney