In search of Ferdinand, king Alonso and his companions feel greatly tired. Alonso is in a terrible depression over the supposed loss of his son Ferdinand. Gonzalo, the old courtier, requests others to take rest. They stop to take rest. Alonso has given up all hopes about the survival of his son Ferdinand. Alonso and Sebastian feel happy and they whisper to each other that the others are so tired that they will not be alert and watchful. Thus they plan to kill Alonso and Gonzalo later in the evening.
At that very time, they hear strange music and then Prospero enters invisibly along with several spirits. They carry food, perform a graceful dance and invite them to have food. Then the spirits disappear. Every one is surprised to see all this. But before they begin to eat, there is a thunderclap and then Ariel enters the shape of a harpy. The banquet vanishes through some quaint device. Ariel makes a speech which is heard only by the three men – Alonso, Sebastian and Antonio. In his speech he accuses these three men as sinners. They try to take out their swords against Ariel but he tells them that they may use them against the wind or try to hit the waves , but that will be of no use. They have to suffer for their wrongdoings in driving out Prospero on the sea. Ariel says that Alonso’s son is dead, and then disappears. Prospero praises Ariel for doing a good job. Meanwhile, these three courtiers are upset by this revelation and run away.
Gonzalo feels that guilt his overtaken all the three of them namely Alonso, Antonio and Sebastian.
In this scene, Shakespeare has made use of supernatural machinery which helps Prospero to further his plan. The phrase ‘with a quaint device the banquet vanishes’ proves the role of the supernatural machinery. The spirit-voice that denounces the three ‘men of sin’ may not seem to be supernatural to Alonso and others because they think that these are the mysterious occurrences of the island.
This scene is significant because it awakens the sense of guilt in the three men of guilt. The whole past stands out clearly before the eyes of the guilty men. The sea, the shore and every creature have joined hands to avenge the foul deed done in the past.
In this scene, we find hints of reconciliation based on realisation and forgiveness.
Significance of the Scene
- The device of the banquet controlled by supernatural agency and Ariel’s role as Harpy are meant to make Alonso and his companions realise their guilt.
- Alonso who feels profoundly affected is led to the path of repentance and redemption , while Antonio and Sebastian remain unaffected.
- The hints of forgiveness and reconciliation in the scenes reveal the moral purpose of the play.
By’r lakin : by our lady kin
travail : an unpleasant situation
unicorns : a mythical animal, a horse with a horn in the middle of its head
phoenix : a mythical bird, arises out of its ashes
muse : wonder at
quaint device : old-fashioned equipment
never-surfeited : never satisfied
belch up : throw up
requit : repaid
ling’ring perdition : slow torture
harpy : a monster with woman’s face
charms : magic spells
ecstasy : frenzy
beseech : pray
I’ll be thy second : I will support you
i’the coze is bedded : is lying in the sea-mud