Thursday, June 03, 2010

The Tempest, part 1 - summary of the play

Welcome to The Tempest, one of those plays that is sometimes called a comedy and sometimes called a "problem play" or a "romance", because it's a bit of a mixed bag. These days, it'd probably be called a "dramedy", really, so let's go with that.

Here's my own abbreviated version of the play. It took hours to put together, not including the hour spent trying to find a good icon to go with the post. (In the end, I went with Puck's quote from A Midsummer Night's Dream, because I couldn't find one. Woe.) Named characters will be bolded when they are first introduced. Actions are between asterisks. Actual quotes are in quotations - all other dialogue is my own take on it. And for whatever reason, I've made more than one reference to Buddy the Elf ("Buddy the Elf - what's your favorite color?") in here.

Act I, scene 1: on a boat

Enter crewmembers, rapping: I'm on a boat, mothaf*cka, take a look at me!

Or not.

[There's a storm brewing. And various noble wanks are giving the crew crap. And the crew is thinking of jumping ship.]

Antonio: "Let's all sink with the king."

Sebastian: "Let's take leave of him."

Gonzalo: *sings* Give me land, lots of land, with the starry skies above.

Act I, scene 2: on an island, outside Prospero's digs

Miranda: WTF with the big storm, Father mine? If you stirred it up, you'd better calm it back down. I saw a ship sink, for Pete's sake!

Prospero: No harm, therefore no foul. You think I'm just your father, but you don't know the half of me. Allow me to bore you senseless with my backstory enlighten you. Help me remove my magic cape of magic!

*puts his magic cape of magic down*

Miranda: Are you really going to tell me our backstory?

Prospero: In detail. . . . and, to sum up, I was the Duke of Milan and you are a Duke's daughter, and my brother is a treasonous snake who stole my dukedom and he wanted us dead but instead we've been here on this island for 12 years. The end.

Miranda: What was that middle part again?

Prospero: I kinda turned things over to my brother Antonio to run while I studied magic. And he fell into cahoots with the King of Naples, and tried to have us killed, in a "huntsman and Snow White" sort of way. We were tossed into the sea in a wreck of a boat, but Gonzalo at least left us food and drink and wonderful clothing and lots of books, and we actually made it to this island.

*picks up his magic cape of magic again*

Miranda: Okay, so what's with the storm?

Prospero: Oh. Right. Every single enemy I ever had plus the guy who helped us happened to be on that ship, so I wrecked it off our coast, and now they're all here on Fantasy Island.

*Miranda falls asleep and Ariel enters*

Prospero: Did you do what I asked?

Ariel: Yep. I messed with their minds but good. Everyone but the crew jumped ship. And the King of Naples's son, Ferdinand, was an especially scaredy cat. I've got him in an isolation chamber, the crew enchanted on the ship, and everyone else in separate small groups.

Prospero: Good work, but why do you seem moody?

Ariel: Because I want my freedom. Duh.

Prosperio: Let me tell you your own backstory [*Ariel rolls eyes*] and that of Caliban, the ugly mutant slave-boy . . . and, in short, you owe me. No more whining or I'll peg you in Caliban's knot-hole or something equally unpleasant for a Very Long Time. Go do something useful.

*Ariel leaves to do something nymph-like and useful; Prospero wakes Miranda up*

Prospero: Let's go see Caliban, the ugly mutant slave boy. At least he's good for building a fire.

Miranda: Well, I don't like him.

Caliban: What a rogue and peasant slave am I -- oops. Wrong play. I'm not happy with this slave gig, and should never have welcomed you here and shown you around.

Prospero: What you shouldn't have done was try to molest Miranda.

Caliban: And I would have gotten away with it too, if it hadn't been for that meddling wizard.

Prospero: Well, I did teach you to speak.

Caliban: Yeah. "I know how to curse."

Prospero: "Hag-seed, hence!" Or I will give you an entire caseful of cramps.

*Caliban mumbles his way off-stage*

*Enter Ariel, wearing Harry Potter's invisibility cloak and singing "Come unto these yellow sands", with Ferdinand following him*

Ferdinand: Where did that music come from? And where did it go?

Ariel: *sings "Full Fathom Five"*

Full fathom five thy father lies,
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes.
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell:
Hark! now I hear them — Ding-dong, bell.
Ferdinand: Clearly, that means my father is dead. Woe.

Prospero: *all nonchalant-like* Hey, who's that over there.

Miranda: Um, another spirit?

Prospero: *headsmack* Guess again.

Miranda Squee! A pretty boy! Dibs!

Ferdinand: A goddess! MY LOVE IS EPIC AND TRUE! "[M]y prime request,/Which I do last pronounce, is, O, you wonder!/If you be maid or no?"

Miranda "No wonder, sir;/But certainly a maid."

*commence cavorting*

Ferdinand: I am speechless, and usually I'm the best speaker in the worldddddd!

Prospero: Pshaw! What if the King of Naples heard you?

Ferdinand: The King of Naples! I know him! He's my now-dead father!

Prospero: O what a rogue and peasant slave are you! Dammit - wrong play.

Miranda: But Daddy, he's so pretty! I want him!

Ferdinand: As long as you're still a virgin and not already hot for someone else, I'll make you Queen of Naples! *sings: I, I will be King. And you, you will be Queen*

Prospero: NO MORE DAVID BOWIE! Also, I charge you with spyishness.

*Freeze tag and pleading ensue, Prospero enslaves Ferdinand so as to strengthen Miranda's love for him and vice-versa, and the scene and act end with Ariel being summoned again*

Act II, scene 1 Another part of the island

Roll call:
Alonso, the not-dead King of Naples
Sebastian: Alonso's brother
Antonio: Prospero's treasonous snake of a brother, now Duke of Milan
Gonzalo: The nice Neapolitan counselor who gave food, drink, etc. to Prospero & Miranda 12 years ago
Adrian: (Yo, Adrian!) A lord
Francisco: (Francisco. That's fun to say. Francisco!) Another lord.

(N.B. - The role of Gonzalo is being played by whichever old fool would otherwise play Polonius)

Gonzalo: "Since brevity is the soul of wit, and tediousness its outward limbs and flourishes, therefore, I will be brief!" DAMMIT! Wrong play! Er, make that Buck up, sire, at least we're all alive!

Alonso: Shut it.

Sebastian: "He receives comfort like cold porridge."

Antonio: Five bucks says that Gonzalo can't let it lie.

Sebastian: "Look. He's winding up the watch of his wit;/by and by it will strike."

Gonzalo attempts to cheer the King of Naples (Alonso), all the while being interrupted by Sebastian and Antonio, who are pretty funny. After the king silences Gonzalo again, Sebastian and Antonio place an actual bet on who will speak to Alonso first - Gonzalo or Adrian. (The answer is Adrian.)

The air breathes upon us here most sweetly.

As if it had lungs and rotten ones.

Or as 'twere perfumed by a fen.

Here is everything advantageous to life.

True; save means to live.

Of that there's none, or little.

How lush and lusty the grass looks! how green!

The ground indeed is tawny.

With an eye of green in't.

He misses not much.

No; he doth but mistake the truth totally.
*Gonzalo sings Wonder of Wonder, Miracle of Miracles to celebrate their clothes staying nice. As nice as when they were all in Africa just now, at the wedding of Alonso's daughter to some guy in Tunis.

Alonso: Nice. Remind me that I'll never see my daughter again now that she's in Africa. I AM FRESH OUT OF CHILDREN!

Sebastian: It's all your fault for letting your daughter marry an African. *dons Klan hood*

Alonso: Shut it.

Sebastian: And we were all that's a bad idea!, and you were all oh no it isn't and we were all oh yes it is too, but did you listen? Oh no, not you, and now you've lost your son too and it's all. your. fault! *flounce*

Alonso: Woe!

Gonzalo: Yeesh Sebastian. You might be right, but now's not the time. "[Y]ou rub the sore,/When you should bring the plaster."

Additional comments by Gonzalo are met with scoffs and comments by Sebastian and Antonio and further requests from Alonso that they all shut it, already.

*Enter Ariel, playing lullaby, whereupon everyone falls asleep except Alonso, Sebastian and Antonio*

Sebastian and Antonio promise to watch over Alonso while he sleeps, so *Alonso sleeps*

Antonio: Dude. I have an idea. Let's kill your brother Alonso, the King of Naples, and then you can be king, since there's no way in hell that Ferdinand survived that wreck.

Sebastian: *waffles for a mere moment* Good plan. And hey, you killed your brother and that all worked out well for you.

Antonio: What say I stab your brother in his sleep, then you accuse Gonzalo and Bob's-your-uncle, you're the king.

Sebastian: That is an excellent plan. Let's do this! But first, let's whisper over here at the side of the stage.

*Ariel comes back in the Cloak of Invisibility*

Ariel: *sings to Gonzalo* Awake! Awake! Fear! Fire! Foes! (Oops - wrong epic tale!)

*Gonzalo wakes up and shakes Alonso awake as well; Sebastian and Antonio claim to have heard lions*

Ariel: "Prospero my lord shall know what I have done:/So, king, go safely on to seek thy son."

Act II, scene 2: Yet another part of the island

*Enter Caliban to the noise of thunder*

All the infections that the sun sucks up
From bogs, fens, flats, on Prosper fall and make him
By inch-meal a disease! His spirits hear me
And yet I needs must curse. But they'll nor pinch,
Fright me with urchin--shows, pitch me i' the mire,
Nor lead me, like a firebrand, in the dark
Out of my way, unless he bid 'em; but
For every trifle are they set upon me;
Sometime like apes that mow and chatter at me
And after bite me, then like hedgehogs which
Lie tumbling in my barefoot way and mount
Their pricks at my footfall; sometime am I
All wound with adders who with cloven tongues
Do hiss me into madness.
*Caliban sees Trinculo coming and falls into a heap to hide.

Trinculo: Ooooh! Big storm coming! "What have we here? a man or a fish? dead or alive? A fish:
he smells like a fish; a very ancient and fish-like smell; a kind of not of the newest Poor-John. A strange fish!" No, wait! It's not an ugly stinky fish! It's a local, undoubtedly struck dead by lightning! I'll just nip under his cloak to escape the weather!

*nips under Caliban's cloak*

*Enter Stephano, drinking and singing*

The master, the swabber, the boatswain and I,
The gunner and his mate
Loved Mall, Meg and Marian and Margery,
But none of us cared for Kate;
For she had a tongue with a tang,
Would cry to a sailor, Go hang!
She loved not the savour of tar nor of pitch,
Yet a tailor might scratch her where'er she did itch:
Then to sea, boys, and let her go hang!
Caliban mistakes Stephano's singing for torment by evil spirits and merriment ensues, in which Caliban and Stephano each assumes the other is a monster, and eventually Trinculo pops up, and they all get drunk. Turns out Stephano escaped on "a butt of sack" (you may laugh - Shakespeare's peers most certainly would have), and that Trinculo "can swim like a duck." Caliban assumes that Stephano must be a god, since he has such a heavenly liquor, and Stephano tells Caliban that he used to be the Man in the Moon.

Caliban: "I'll show thee every fertile inch o' th' island;
  And I will kiss thy foot: I prithee, be my god."

Caliban swears to serve Stephano and leads him and Trinculo away.

Act III, scene 1: Meanwhile, back at Prospero's place

Ferdinand: *enters carrying a big log* My log is very heavy, but thankfully my mistress quickens what was dead, wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more.

*Miranda skips on up to Ferdinand, Prospero sneaks in to watch from a distance*

Miranda: I wish you would rest. I would gladly hold carry your log back and forth and back and forth for you!

No, precious creature;
I had rather crack my sinews, break my back,
Than you should such dishonour undergo,
While I sit lazy by.
Miranda: Please let me carry your wood? Pretty please?

Ferdinand: Now hold just a minute, little lady . . .

Miranda: But you look tired!

Ferdinand: Me? Not when you're here. *sings You make the darkness disappear. I feel found when you stand near Care to tell me your name?

Miranda: Miranda. Oops. I wasn't supposed to tell you that.

Ferdinand: *rhapsodizes over Miranda's perfection, with a bit of Mambo, Number 5 thrown in for good measure*

Miranda: I think you're pretty. Even though I've got nothing to compare you to but my father. But I call dibs! Oops. I wasn't supposed to tell you that.

Ferdinand: I'm a prince, Miranda. Possibly a king, although I wish my dad were not-dead. The only reason I'm going along with this log-hauling scheme is to be near you.

Miranda: "Do you love me?"

Ferdinand: *opts not to sing that particular selection from Fiddler on the Roof*
O heaven, O earth, bear witness to this sound
And crown what I profess with kind event
If I speak true! if hollowly, invert
What best is boded me to mischief! I
Beyond all limit of what else i' the world
Do love, prize, honour you.
Miranda: I'm so happy I could cry!

Hidden Prospero: Awww. That is so adorable! "Fair encounter/Of two most rare affections! Heavens rain grace/On that which breeds between 'em!"

Ferdinand: "Wherefore weep you?"

Miranda: Allow me to tell you that I feel unworthy, while using decidedly sexual double entendres and puns so as to amuse the rabble in the cheap seats

Whereupon the two of them engage in the age-old tradition of handfasting - making a marriage contract between them while clasping hands. They go their separate ways, promising to meet again in half an hour.

Prospero: I may not be has happy as they are, but nothing could make me happier. Now to do some more serious magic.

Act III, scene 2: the Caliban/Stephano/Trinculo part of the island

Caliban fawns over Stephano, Trinculo doesn't care for him much, and Stephano and Trinculo bicker a bit. Kind of like Sam and Frodo bickering about Gollum. Only without the Orcs and Nazgul.

*Ariel comes in wearing (you guessed it) the Invisibility Cloak and starts an argument in the group by accusing Caliban of being a liar; Caliban and Stephano assume it's Trinculo talking, and Stephano cuffs Trinculo*

Caliban: I'll show you where Prospero lives and you can kill him in his sleep. At the very least, burn his books - without them, he has no real magic. But he has a hot daughter, and you can totally bed her.

Stephano: That is an excellent plan! Let's do this! You and Trinculo can be viceroys!

Trinculo: "Excellent."

Ariel vows to tell Prospero, then plays a tune.

Be not afeard; 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
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again: and then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open and show riches
Ready to drop upon me that, when I wak'd,
I cried to dream again.
Stephano: I think I'll like being in charge of this kingdom!

*They follow Invisible Ariel off stage*

Act III, scene 3: the King of Naples part of the island

Gonzalo: I'm knackered. Can we rest?

Alonso: I'm tired too, and nowhere near as old as you.

Antonio and Sebastian renew their murderous scheme off to the side.

*Enter Prospero,above, invisible* [I have to suppose he's up on a platform or balcony, sort of puppet-master like, doing conjuring sorts of hand motions while other cast members set up a table and conjure a banquet*

Give us kind keepers, heavens! What were these?

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;
And what does else want credit, come to me,
And I'll be sworn 'tis true: travellers ne'er did
Though fools at home condemn 'em.

If in Naples
I should report this now, would they believe me?
There's some debate as to whether to eat the meal or not. Once it is resolved that they will eat, Ariel sweeps in looking like a harpy and causes the meal to disappear in a flash.

Harpy Ariel: Three of you are bad, bad sinners. You threw Prospero and his daughter out of Milan and into the sea, and the waters and everything on this island hate you. It's pay-back time, beyotches! That's why you lost your son, Alonso! *flaps off*

Prospero: Nice work, Ariel! Now my enemies are all under my power! Mwahahaha! Well, I'm off to chat with not-dead Ferdinand.

Gonzalo: What are you staring at?

Alonso: Woe! I swear something came and told me that Ferdinand was dead because of what we did to Prospero!

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
The name of Prosper: it did bass my trespass.
Therefore my son i' the ooze is bedded, and
I'll seek him deeper than e'er plummet sounded
And with him there lie mudded.
*Alonso exits, ready to go diving for his son's corpse. Sebastian and Antonio head off to fight fiends.*

Gonzalo: It's about time their guilt caught up with them.

Gonzalo sends some of the younger, quicker guys after them to make sure they don't come to any harm.

Act IV, scene 1: Outside Prospero's cave again

*Enter Prospero, Miranda, and Ferdinand*

This scene is too entertaining - and a wee bit too "women are chattelish" - to pass up. Check out the threats that Prospero makes relating to his daughter's hymen:

If I have too austerely punish'd you,
Your compensation makes amends, for I
Have given you here a third of mine own life,
Or that for which I live; who once again
I tender to thy hand: all thy vexations
Were but my trials of thy love and thou
Hast strangely stood the test here, afore Heaven,
I ratify this my rich gift. O Ferdinand,
Do not smile at me that I boast her off,
For thou shalt find she will outstrip all praise
And make it halt behind her.

I do believe it
Against an oracle.

Then, as my gift and thine own acquisition
Worthily purchased take my daughter: but
If thou dost break her virgin-knot before
All sanctimonious ceremonies may
With full and holy rite be minister'd,
No sweet aspersion shall the heavens let fall
To make this contract grow: but barren hate,
Sour-eyed disdain and discord shall bestrew
The union of your bed with weeds so loathly
That you shall hate it both: therefore take heed,
As Hymen's lamps shall light you.

As I hope
For quiet days, fair issue and long life,
With such love as 'tis now, the murkiest den,
The most opportune place, the strong'st suggestion.
Our worser genius can, shall never melt
Mine honour into lust, to take away
The edge of that day's celebration
When I shall think: or Phoebus' steeds are founder'd,
Or Night kept chain'd below.

Fairly spoke.
Sit then and talk with her; she is thine own.
Prospero then summons Ariel and sends him to fetch everyone else (with the help of the lesser spirits of the island).

Prospero stages a play for Ferdinand and Miranda, featuring Iris, Ceres, and Juno to celebrate the coming nuptials and to confer a blessing on them. Toward the end of the play-within-the-play, Prospero suddenly recalls that Caliban is coming to kill him, and the players all disappear.

Our revels now are ended. These 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,
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Ye 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.
Miranda and Ferdinand head inside, leaving Prospero to chat with Ariel, who has gotten Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo stuck in bog. Prospero and Ariel wear Invisibility Cloaks, and Ariel leads the three "varlets" in, then hangs some glittering robes on a line (or tree branch).

Stephano and Trinculo mourn the loss of their bottles in the bog, disregard Caliban's reminders to be quiet, and go straight for the fancy pants. Prospero summons spirits which have taken the forms of attacking dogs. Prospero and Ariel urge the dogs on, and they drive Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo away.

Go charge my goblins that they grind their joints
With dry convulsions, shorten up their sinews
With aged cramps, and more pinch-spotted make them
Than pard* or cat o' mountain**.
*pard: leopard
**cat o' mountain: panther (or leopard)

Prospero again promises to free Ariel, as soon as he's done dealing with the rest of his enemies.

Act V, scene 1: Still outside Prospero's dwelling

*Enter Prospero, wearing his magical robe of magic, and Ariel*

Prospero: I love it when a plan comes together. Where is everybody?

Ariel: Scattered in the stand of linden trees. "Your charm so strongly works 'em/That if you now beheld them, your affections/Would become tender."

Prospero: "Dost thou think so, spirit?"

Ariel: "Mine would, sir, were I human."

And mine shall.
Hast thou, which art but air, a touch, a feeling
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 the quick,
Yet with my nobler reason 'gaitist my fury
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,
And they shall be themselves.
Prospero engages in a sort of magical incantation and casts a circle. At the conclusion of his ritual, he vows to "drown [his] book", thereby intimating that he will give up magic. Alonso and all the other lords and whatnot eventually enter the circle, enchanted. Prospero forgives them all in a lovely long speech, then dons some "Duke of Milan" robes and actually interacts with them.

Alonso again mourns the loss of his son, and Prospero says that he has likewise lost a daughter in the tempest. Prospero reveals the presence of Miranda and Ferdinand, who are playing chess. They are so caught up in one another and their game that they do not at first notice anyone else. When Miranda eventually speaks, she says these lines:

O, wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in't!
Ferdinand tells his father that he's contracted to marry Miranda, and Alonso gets ready to tell his son his role in Prospero's exile, but Prospero prevents him. Alonso gives his blessing to the union and all's right with the world, especially once Ariel turns up with the Captain and Boatswain. Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo return and are put to work spiffing up Prospero's cell, and Prospero convinces everyone to spend the night on the island before setting off for Italy in the morning, where he will reclaim his dukedom. He promises them good winds, and tells Ariel that's to be his last job, and then freedom is his.


Prospero directly addresses the audience.

Now my charms are all o'erthrown,
And what strength I have's mine own,
Which is most faint: now, 'tis true,
I must be here confined by you,
Or sent to Naples. Let me not,
Since I have my dukedom got
And pardon'd the deceiver, dwell
In this bare island by your spell;
But release me from my bands
With the help of your good hands:
Gentle breath of yours my sails
Must fill, or else my project fails,
Which was to please. 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.
Tomorrow: Some tempestuous discussion

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