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Free Study Guide-The Tempest by William Shakespeare-Free Book Notes
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SCENE SUMMARIES WITH NOTES

ACT III, SCENE 1

Summary

In order to stall for time and make his plan work, Prospero treats Ferdinand as a servant/prisoner and has ordered him to make a great pile of logs by sunset. In this scene, the prince is hard at work, bringing in the heavy logs. Back and forth he toils, pausing only to wipe the sweat from his brow. He swears he will gladly endure this enslavement forever, if only he can see the lovely Miranda once a day. When Miranda thinks her father is studying, she sneaks out to see Ferdinand and introduces herself by name.

With her typical concern and kindness, she tries to persuade Ferdinand to rest, or at least allow her to carry some logs for him. He denies her offer, but stops his work to talk to her. She openly confesses her love for him, and Ferdinand responds with his own declaration of love for Miranda. They vow to marry, oblivious to the fact that Prospero happily watches them making their plans together, just as he has wanted. Prospero knows that the two of them are a perfect match for one another.


Notes

This poignant love scene is one of the most touching in all of Shakespeare and quickly returns the mood of the play to one of enchantment. In stark contrast to the vile and complaining Caliban seen in earlier scenes, Ferdinand finds even hard labor pleasant because it may give him the opportunity to see the beautiful Miranda. He is obviously smitten by this charming young girl, just as Miranda is smitten by this handsome prince. It is not surprising that the love affair of Miranda and Ferdinand progresses very quickly.

Like many of Shakespeare's heroines and as the one who is most unaffected and natural, Miranda dispenses with the established conventions of love and courtship since she is unaware of them. She is honest and natural in revealing her true feelings for Ferdinand and is not shy about asking him directly if he loves her and will accept her as a wife. Free from the constraints of social codes defining what is proper, Miranda simply speaks her thoughts and emotions. Ferdinand is totally charmed by her beauty and innocence and admits he fell in love with her at first sight. He confesses that "the very instant that I saw you, did / My heart fly to your service; there resides, / To make me slave to it; and for your sake / Am I this patient log-man." This passage brings out the noble and romantic aspects in the character of Ferdinand, the only member of the royal party who is truly unblemished.

This scene also sheds light on the theme of freedom vs. service in the play. According to Ferdinand, true freedom consists in service. Shakespeare portrays Ferdinand and Miranda as willing slaves to each other, and Ferdinand even willingly agrees to be Prospero's slave for Miranda's sake." He will give up his past life of royalty and wealth for the "tyranny" that Prospero imposes, if his slavery means he can be with Miranda. Shakespeare's use of slavery as an image for love is quite unusual, but very effective.

Miranda becomes a symbol of wonder and pure, natural innocence. When Ferdinand first meets her, he exclaims, "O you wonder!" Since wonder implies godly and Miranda is daughter to the god- like Prospero who controls everything on the island through his magic, it is not surprising that Ferdinand worships her, almost as a goddess. He compares her to all the other women he has known and judges her to be the paragon of perfection. Appropriately, Shakespeare derives the name 'Miranda' from the Latin word, 'Mirari', which means one who deserves to be admired.

The love story of Ferdinand and Miranda is an important part of the ultimate reconciliation of King Alonso and Prospero. As son of the King who helped Antonio overthrow Prospero, it would seem that Ferdinand and Prospero would be natural enemies. But Ferdinand's unblemished reputation and his pure and simple love for Miranda allow Prospero to accept this young prince, who then becomes the means for Prospero's general forgiveness. It is this young couple's love story that brings the rivals together and restores cooperation.

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