On another part of the island Caliban who is collecting fuel wood on Prospero’s order is cursing and abusing him for usurping his island, enslaving him, making him do menial jobs. Then he sees Trinculo coming in his wild costume and thinks that he is another spirit of Prospero who is coming to torment him. In order to escape torture, he lies down on the ground to hide. Trinculo hears the noise of thunder and thinks that it is going to rain soon. He crawls under Caliban’s loose garments to escape rain. Stephano, a clownish character, enters the scene. He is described as a ‘drunken butler’. He has been wandering about the island in a drunken state. At this time also, he is quite drunk. On seeing Caliban, he is unable to make out what this strange-looking creature is. When he notices the two legs of Trinculo and two legs of Caliban, he thinks that this creature has four legs. Caliban thinks that he is being tortured by a spirit of Prospero. Stephano pours out several drinks into the mouth of Caliban and as a result he feels elated. Then Trinculo makes some remarks. After a humorous conversation, Stephano pulls him out from under Caliban’s loose cloak. They feel happy in each other’s company and discuss how they escaped drowning.
Caliban has become tipsy and after the drinks and tells Stephano that he will show him the island and catch food for him. All the three – Caliban, Trinculo and Stephano – get drunk and then move away in a drunken condition.
Shakespeare has included this scene in the play to provide comic relief to the audience. This scene does not further the plot. All the three characters – Caliban, Trinculo and Stephano – behave in a comical manner. The sight of the monstrous Caliban, the wild costume of Trinculo, the court jester, and Stephano, the self-proclaimed king of the island, is amusing. Their earthly humour, their drunkenness, and their sailor’s song add humour to the scene.
This comic scene is designed to provide a comic relief to the treacherous plot hatched by Antonio and Sebastian to kill Alonso and Gonzalo. The seriousness of the murderous plat in the previous scene is lessened by the comical conversation of these three characters. It provides low and crude humour to the ordinary people in the audience.
Significance of the Scene
- This scene shifts to another part of the island.
- It is a humorous interlude which supplies some comic relief.
- Caliban here comes to stand for the exploited colonial people who get infected with the vices of civilisation.
- The focus is on Caliban’s essential nature.
mow : make faces
hedgehobs : urchins
will not mind me : will not notice me
brewing : working up
let loose : express
shroud : take cover
dregs : what is left
swabber : the act of cleaning the decks with a broom and water
bombard : a vessel
pailfuls : heavy rains
tang : irritating effect
ague : fever
delicate : pleasant
mooncalf : deformed creature
sprites : spirits
book : the Bible (here, bottle)
perfidious : treacherous
nimble : quick
marmoset : monkey
filbrets : hazelnuts
seamels : seagulls