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The Tempest
William Shakespeare




_____ 1. During the tempest of the first scene, Gonzalo finds reason for hope because the boatswain has the type of face

    A. that's headed for the gallows, not drowning
    B. that won't give up
    C. that's blessed by divine providence
_____ 2. Prospero's attempt to educate Caliban fails because Caliban
    A. has a nature that's too low to benefit from education
    B. will never forgive him for taking over the island
    C. has already learned too many spells from his mother, the witch Sycorax
_____ 3. Many of the characters in The Tempest are paired, but one of the following is not a pair:
    A. Ariel and Caliban
    B. Antonio and Alonso
    C. Miranda and Ferdinand
_____ 4. Gonzalo and Alonso represent the voices of
    A. patience and impatience
    B. servitude and authority
    C. age and youth
_____ 5. Trinculo, Stephano, and Antonio all have the same reaction to Caliban:
    A. he's too ugly to be trusted
    B. he ought to be freed
    C. he could bring a profit if he were displayed as a freak
_____ 6. Ferdinand and Miranda's love helps heal the rift between Prospero and
    A. Caliban
    B. Alonso
    C. Antonio
_____ 7. In his speech to the "three men of sin," Ariel tells them that
    I. he's made them insane
    II. they're at the mercy of Prospero
    III. their only hope is to repent and lead a good life
    A. I and II only
    B. II and III only
    C. I and III only
_____ 8. The language of the spirits' masque in Act IV is different from that of the rest of the play in that
    A. it's much richer in metaphors
    B. it uses the special grammar peculiar to masques
    C. it's more elaborate and artificial
_____ 9. Prospero's decision to forgive his enemies is apparently prompted by
    A. Miranda's plea that he be merciful to Ferdinand's father
    B. Ariel's comment that he would feel sorry for them if he were human
    C. his guilt about the torment he's put them through
_____ 10. The character who shows no remorse for his wrongs is
    A. Caliban
    B. Alonso
    C. Antonio

11. What is your final judgment of Prospero? Analyze his character carefully, considering his bad points as well as his good ones.

12. Consider the role of physical beauty in the play.

13. Discuss the parallels among the various schemes in the play, and the reasons for these parallels.

14. Compare and contrast Ariel and Caliban.

15. Analyze Gonzalo's character, and explain the old councilor's function in the play.


_____ 1. Prospero's mistakes as Duke of Milan included

    I. granting Antonio too much power
    II. having too little patience to trust divine providence
    III. studying too much and governing too little
    A. I and II only
    B. II and III only
    C. I and III only
_____ 2. To say that Shakespeare observes the classical unities in The Tempest means that
    A. the play is based on the Greek and Roman classics
    B. the poetic diction is unified with the action
    C. everything happens in the same place and on the same day
_____ 3. Prospero treats Ferdinand harshly because
    A. he's the son of his old enemy Alonso
    B. he doesn't feel Miranda is ready to marry
    C. he wants to test the young man's worth
_____ 4. Antonio and Sebastian plot against Alonso parallels
    A. Prospero and Ariel's plot against Alonso
    B. the original plot against Prospero
    C. Stephano and Trinculo's plot to save the wine
_____ 5. Caliban mistakes Stephano and Trinculo for
    A. traders
    B. gods
    C. buffoons
_____ 6. Miranda and Caliban have this in common:
    A. they've been taught by Prospero to worship divine providence
    B. they have to listen to Prospero's lectures on chastity
    C. they have little experience of human beings other than Prospero
_____ 7. At the beginning of Act IV, Prospero lectures Ferdinand on the importance of
    A. chastity
    B. patience
    C. penitence
_____ 8. The spirits' masque in Act IV ends because
    A. Prospero starts up in anger
    B. Ariel has to fetch Caliban, Stephano, and Trinculo
    C. Ferdinand talks and breaks the spell
_____ 9. The "three men of sin" are
    A. Antonio, Sebastian, and Alonso
    B. Caliban, Stephano, and Trinculo
    C. Antonio, Sebastian, and Caliban
_____ 10. Prospero's farewell to his art has been compared to
    A. Queen Elizabeth's farewell to her reign
    B. Shakespeare's farewell to poetry
    C. Miranda's farewell to the island

11. Examine the play from a Christian point of view.

12. Discuss the pairing of characters. How does this technique help Shakespeare convey his themes?

13. Explain Prospero's fall from power in Milan. What lessons does he need to learn in order to become a good ruler?

14. Prospero calls Caliban "a born devil, on whose nature/Nurture can never stick." Discuss the themes of nature and nurture in The Tempest.

15. Consider Ferdinand and Miranda both as representatives of the play's themes and as characters. State your opinion as to their credibility.


  1. A
  2. A
  3. B
  4. A
  5. C
  6. B
  7. C
  8. C
  9. B
  10. C

11. Because this question asks you to defend an opinion, you'll have to decide for yourself what you think of Prospero. You can find evidence either to defend him or condemn him.

If you want to defend Prospero, you can point to his many good qualities. He's a loving father. He's wise and scholarly. He commands Ariel only until he accomplishes his plan; then he frees him. He forgives his enemies, including Antonio and Sebastian, who don't seem to deserve forgiveness. His past errors- trusting too much in Antonio and Caliban- have been on the side of kindness.

But Prospero isn't perfect; he's a harsh, angry man. He breaks up the lovely masque for Ferdinand and Miranda when his anger overcomes him. He may have a sense of justice concerning his own wrongs, but he doesn't seem to mind if his own behavior hurts innocent people. Thus, he horrifies Miranda with his cruelty to Ferdinand; he lets kindly old Gonzalo weep while he punishes Alonso. In addition, his earlier foolishness has caused suffering. In giving Caliban too much freedom, he allowed the monster to attempt to rape Miranda. In giving Antonio too much freedom, he lost his dukedom in Milan. This resulted in dire consequences for the city in the form of the annual tribute that Milan, under Antonio, must pay Naples.

12. This theme develops mainly in connection with Miranda, Ferdinand, and Caliban. Miranda associates beauty with moral goodness. Thus, in her "brave new world" speech in Act V, she assumes that because Alonso's party looks noble- "How beauteous mankind is!"- they must be noble: "How many goodly creatures are there here!" Shakespeare's audience really did associate goodness with beauty; after all, according to the Bible, God created humanity "in his own image." Miranda has two additional reasons to make this association. First, Ferdinand is extremely good-looking, a "thing divine," and she's in love with him. Second, her main experience of evil has been the ugly Caliban. Prospero notes that Caliban becomes even uglier as he grows more evil: "as with age his body uglier grows,/So his mind cankers." Caliban's mother, too, was evil and deformed: the "foul witch Sycorax" was "grown into a hoop" with "age and envy." But by including Antonio and Sebastian among the creatures whom Miranda calls "goodly," Shakespeare reminds you that reality is more complex than this simple symbolism.

13. The three plots in The Tempest are (1) Antonio's plot, with the aid of Alonso and Sebastian, to usurp the dukedom from Prospero, a dozen years before the beginning of the play; (2) Antonio and Sebastian's plot to kill Alonso and Gonzalo and make Sebastian King of Naples; (3) Caliban, Stephano, and Trinculo's plot to kill Prospero and make Stephano ruler of the island.

All three of these schemes aim to replace a rightful ruler with a wrongful one.

Antonio and Sebastian's plot against Alonso parallels the original plot against Prospero, and it serves two functions. First, because Shakespeare observed the classical unities and restricted the action of The Tempest to one day, he sacrificed certain dramatic possibilities. It's less exciting to have Prospero simply tell Miranda about the plot than it would have been to show it. But by introducing a new plot that's so similar to the original one, Shakespeare retains some of the drama without having to spread the action over twelve years. Second, although Prospero tells Miranda of Antonio's villainy, you also witness it; thus, it makes a much stronger impression upon you.

The Caliban-Stephano-Trinculo plot parodies the Antonio-Sebastian plot as well as the original plot. Its function is mainly comic, though it relates thematically to the rest of the play because it again shows characters attempting to rise above their proper place in society.

14. Although Ariel and Caliban are both magical beings of Prospero's island, they are opposites. Ariel is light, airy, intelligent; Caliban is heavy, earthbound, stupid. When Prospero summons Ariel, the spirit arrives as quickly as thought; when he calls Caliban, the monster complains and delays as long as he can.

The beings are also opposed in their sense of morality. Caliban is amoral. He shows no remorse about his attempted rape of Miranda. When he plots with Stephano and Trinculo to kill Prospero and seize the island, he gives no thought to the morality of his actions. Ariel, in contrast, is an extremely moral character. His speech to the "three men of sin" in Act III is practically a sermon on the classic Christian message of the necessity of repentance. Moreover, Ariel has suffered for his goodness: Caliban's mother, the "foul witch Sycorax," imprisoned him in the cloven pine tree because he was "too delicate" to carry out her horrible commands.

Ariel and Caliban do resemble each other in their desire for freedom. But Ariel craves freedom because it's part of his nature to be free; although he serves Prospero loyally, having a master is alien to his makeup. Caliban, however, is by nature a slave; he only wants freedom because he's too lazy to work. When he acquires freedom, he misuses it. He needs a master to exercise the authority he can't muster over his own appetites.

15. Gonzalo is the embodiment of the good Christian: kind, cheerful, patient, faithful and- as you know from his actions when Prospero and Miranda were cast out to sea- charitable. Unlike Alonso, he never loses faith that Providence is watching over them or that they'll locate Ferdinand. Unlike Prospero, he never succumbs to anger, even when Antonio and Sebastian mock his attempts to cheer the King.

Gonzalo is also rather an old bumbler, however, and he talks too much. Even in his great speech on Providence, he continues for too long and says too much: his assertion that they all have acquired self- knowledge isn't true for Sebastian or Antonio, nor probably for Gonzalo either. But these shortcomings make Gonzalo a more believable character; perhaps they even make him more likable than he would be if he were always right.


  1. C
  2. C
  3. C
  4. B
  5. B
  6. C
  7. A
  8. A
  9. A
  10. B

11. To answer this question you can point to several Christian themes, which fall into three general categories: providence and patience; forgiveness; repentance.

As Prospero tells Miranda, they were brought to the island by divine providence. A good Christian, like Gonzalo, has faith in this divine benevolence and patience with the circumstances of his life. A man of little faith, like Alonso, is impatient and pessimistic. You can also argue that Prospero embodies providence within the play, because he controls so much of the action and ultimately, despite his initial anger, forgives even his unrepentant enemies.

As to forgiveness, the main question throughout is whether Prospero will overcome his anger and forgive his enemies. Christians, of course, are expected to forgive. Revenge is not a Christian attribute. As Prospero observes, forgiveness is a nobler action than vengeance.

Closely related to the theme of forgiveness is the concept of repentance. Prospero tells Ariel of repentance. Prospero tells Ariel that all he really wanted when he punished the "three men of sin" was to make them repent their wrongdoing. Ariel delivers this message in his harsh speech to the three after the banquet in Act III. In this action, Prospero again parallels the Christian God, who is ready to forgive any penitent wrongdoer. This parallel develops problems, however, when Prospero forgives Antonio and Sebastian, wrongdoers who don't repent.

12. Before answering this question, you might want to list the various pairs. Sometimes the pairing seems insignificant: Adrian and Francisco, Stephano and Trinculo, the master and the boatswain. Antonio and Sebastian are both evil, usurping brothers, but their similarities don't tell you much about their characters. You learn more when paired characters are contrasted. For example, Prospero's wisdom is more apparent when compared to Alonso's foolishness. At times, Alonso is also paired with Gonzalo, and Alonso's lack of faith is more evident in contrast with the kind old councilor's extreme patience and faith in providence. Ariel and Caliban are almost precise opposites, and you can argue that their opposition functions symbolically: Ariel represents spirit and intelligence, Caliban flesh and appetite. Ferdinand and Miranda are paired romantically, in a way that's traditional on stage as well as in life. The pairing gives the play an aura of symmetry and simplicity, and contributes to its magical, fairy-tale atmosphere.

13. Prospero tells the story of his downfall in Act I. You can argue that he lost his dukedom because his hunger for knowledge was too great. (In this aspect, he resembles Adam and Eve, who lost Eden after eating from the tree of knowledge because they wanted to become god-like.) He gave up ruling for study, foolishly turning over the reins of government to his brother Antonio and thus failing to observe degree, as Antonio wasn't the rightful ruler. He later erred similarly with Caliban, giving the creature more freedom and more education than were appropriate to his low degree.

Thus, Prospero must learn two important lessons. The first is a lesson in self-control: he must keep his hunger for knowledge in check so that he can properly attend to his duties as ruler. Secondly, he must use his authority to see that others don't exceed their proper degree; he must keep his subjects in their places.

14. To answer this question, you should focus on Caliban and Miranda. The theme of "nurture" refers to education; that of "nature" describes a person's general makeup. Miranda has a high nature- a noble temperament, a sense of morality, and ample self-control. She benefits from her education; Prospero's teachings make her a better person, and she becomes a fine young woman. Caliban, however, has a low nature that can't be educated. He has so little self-control that he tries to rape Miranda, and he so lacks any moral sense that instead of regretting his crime, he cries, "Would't had been done!"

Caliban, however, does exit on a positive note. His final speech- "I'll be wise hereafter,/And seek for grace"- suggests that even if he has the nature of a born slave, he may have learned, at least temporarily, to accept his low degree. In this he contrasts with the unrepentant Antonio and Sebastian, who can't excuse their villainy by claiming low natures.

15. Ferdinand and Miranda embody the theme of reconciliation. Through their love, their fathers- Alonso and Prospero- find a way to end their hostility.

Both Ferdinand and Miranda are contrasted with the low-natured Caliban. While Caliban is governed by his appetites, Ferdinand is a model of self-control. He has the discipline and the stamina to accomplish the burdensome tasks that Prospero assigns him. As he explains at the beginning of Act IV, he respects the value of chastity- unlike Caliban, the would-be rapist.

Miranda benefits from the education Prospero has given her; on the other hand, Caliban has only learned to curse. In addition, Miranda has acquired the advantages of education without the accompanying corruption of civilization. When she declares her love to Ferdinand in Act III, she's straightforward because she hasn't learned coyness or deception. Shakespeare's audience would certainly have regarded this innocence as a virtue.

You'll have to examine Ferdinand and Miranda's scenes closely to decide whether you think their characters are believable or too good to be true. They have all the virtues of high nature and fine education, and they may remind you of a fairy-tale prince and princess. Shakespeare has, however, included details that make them appear more human. For example, Miranda disobeys her father when she tells Ferdinand her name. Later, she demonstrates her naivete by including Antonio and Sebastian among the "goodly creatures" she praises. Ferdinand has some human attributes also. He's impulsive enough to draw his sword against Prospero. At the beginning of Act IV, after he's exchanged some very admirable sentiments with Prospero on the subject of chastity, his future father-in-law has to reprimand him for embracing Miranda a little too warmly. You must decide whether or not these details make Ferdinand and Miranda come alive as real people.

[The Tempest Contents]


    1. Discuss the Christian themes in the play.
    2. Discuss the theme of education in The Tempest, especially as it relates to Miranda and Caliban.
    3. Examine the theme of chastity in the play.
    4. Consider the ways in which The Tempest reflects Shakespeare's views on the social hierarchy.
    5. Examine the theme of repentance in the play. Explain why Prospero forgives Antonio and Sebastian even though they don't repent.
    1. Do you think Prospero decides to forgive his enemies during his conversation with Ariel early in Act V, or before that? Support your opinion by citing evidence from the play.
    2. Discuss Prospero's relationship with Ariel and what it tells you about the way each character regards authority and freedom.
    3. Consider the villains of the play: Antonio, Sebastian, Alonso, Stephano, Trinculo, and Caliban. Which of them do you think should be judged most harshly? least harshly? What evidence do you have for your opinion?
    4. Contrast Alonso with Prospero and Gonzalo.
    5. The Victorian poet Robert Browning wrote a dramatic monologue called "Caliban upon Setebos" in which Caliban reflects upon his mother's god. Compare Browning's Caliban to Shakespeare's. How are they alike? How do they differ?
    1. The characters in The Tempest speak in different styles: coarse or elevated, natural or artificial, long-winded or terse, prose or poetry, and so forth. What do you learn about each character from the style in which he or she speaks?
    2. Examine the various planes of reality in the play. Which elements give it a fairy-tale atmosphere? Which relate it to the real world?
    3. In The Tempest, Shakespeare simplifies his approach to psychology as compared with his earlier plays. Describe this simpler method and the effects he achieves with it.
    4. What does Shakespeare achieve, or fail to achieve, by observing the classical unities in The Tempest? (Be sure to define the classical unities.)
    5. Discuss the comic subplot of Caliban, Stephano, and Trinculo, explaining how it parallels the main plot and how these parallels function.
    1. How does the masque in Act IV relate to the themes of the rest of the play?
    2. Compare the masque with other masques of Shakespeare's time, such as those by Ben Jonson.
    3. Consider the masque-like elements that appear throughout The Tempest, in addition to the actual masque in Act IV. To do this, you'll want to read further about Renaissance masques.
    1. Compare the verse style of The Tempest with the verse style of earlier plays by Shakespeare.
    2. Compare The Tempest to one or more of Shakespeare's other romances: Pericles, Cymbeline, and The Winter's Tale.
    3. Compare and contrast Ariel and the mischievous sprite Puck of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
    4. Consider Trinculo in relation to some of Shakespeare's other clowns, such as Touchstone in As You Like It, Feste in Twelfth Night, the gravediggers in Hamlet, or the Fool in King Lear.
    1. Examine the songs in the play. How do they function in the overall structure? How do they relate to the plot?
    2. Analyze, line by line, one of the following speeches: Caliban on the island's music (III, ii, 140- 148); Ariel to the "three men of sin" (III, iii, 53-82); Prospero after the masque (IV, i, 146- 163); Prospero's farewell to his art (V, i, 33-57); Gonzalo on providence (V, i, 200-213).
    3. Discuss the role of magic in The Tempest.

THE STORY, continued

ECC [The Tempest Contents] []

© Copyright 1986 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.
Electronically Enhanced Text © Copyright 1993, World Library, Inc.
Further distribution without the written consent of, Inc. is prohibited.

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