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Free Study Guide-The Tempest by William Shakespeare-Free Book Notes
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KEY LITERARY ELEMENTS

SETTING

The action of the entire play takes place in one afternoon, on an enchanted island in the middle of the open sea somewhere between Africa and Italy.

LIST OF CHARACTERS - CAST

Major Characters

Prospero

The protagonist of the play and the rightful Duke of Milan. He is a benevolent magician and a wise and loving man. He acquires power on the enchanted island, which enables him to get back his dukedom at the end of the play.

Miranda

Prospero's daughter who is kind and good. She has lived on the enchanted island since she was three and remembers no other place. She and her father are the only human inhabitants on the island.


Ferdinand

Son of the King of Naples who falls in love with Miranda. A heroic character, he is brave, honest, and dutiful. He is unaware of the wicked deeds that have brought him to the island.

Gonzalo

A "good old lord" of Milan. He is counselor to King Alonso. He was very helpful to Prospero at the time of his exile, saving his and young Miranda's lives by filling their boat with provisions.

Alonso

King of Naples who is weak-willed. He is guilty of having helped the men who overthrew Prospero twelve years prior to the onset of the action, but is brought to true repentance.

Sebastian

Alonso's traitorous brother. He is a villain who, in the course of the play, plots to destroy Alonso and take over his kingdom.

Antonio

Prospero's brother and chief antagonist. He is a wicked man who usurped Prospero's dukedom twelve years prior to the start of the play. He persuades Sebastian to act against Alonso as he has acted toward Prospero. At the end of the play, he is the only unrepentant schemer.

Ariel

A delicate bird-like spirit. He is invisible to all except Prospero, his master. He used to be a slave of the witch, Sycorax.

Caliban

A misshapen monster. He is the son of the wicked witch Sycorax. He is Prospero's slave and is dramatically ugly in contrast to the delicate Ariel.

Minor Characters

Claribel

Ferdinand's sister who has been politically married to the King of Tunis.

Stephano

Alonso's drunken butler who drags himself through the enchanted island with a bottle of liquor.

Trinculo

Alonso's dull jester.

Adrian and Francisco

Lords attending Alonso.

Iris, Ceres, Juno

Nymphs and reapers in the Masque within the play. These roles are assumed by island spirits in Prospero's pageant, acting as figures in mythology.

Master of ship

The ship's captain during the shipwreck.

Boatswain

One who works under the master of the ship, directing the mechanical operation of the boat.

Mariners

Those who assist the master of the ship and the boatswain in operating the ship.

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Free Study Guide-The Tempest by William Shakespeare-Free Plot Synopsis
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