The Tempest Act 4 Scene 1 Notes ISC Class 11 and Class 12


Prospero who has watched Ferdinand’s behaviour and conduct is now sure that the young man is really in love with his daughter Miranda. He tells him that the hard work imposed on him was nothing but  a test of his love for Miranda. He frees him of his hard labour and give his blessings to their marriage but warns Ferdinand not to indulge in sex before marriage. If they do so, it will result in hate, disdain and discord. Ferdinand makes a solemn pledge to honour the sanctity of love by all means.

Prospero then orders Ariel to entertain them at this happy occasion. The entertainment takes place in the form of a masque. In this masque, Iris, the goddess of the rainbow, Juno, the wife of Jupiter and queen of the gods, who protect the sanctity of marriage, and Ceres, an earth goddess, take part to provide entertainment to the couple. But towards the end of a dance, Prospero suddenly recalls Caliban’s treacherous plot and orders to end the masque immediately. This supreme the young couple and Miranda says that she has never seen her father so angry.

Prospero asks Ariel about the three drunkards. Ariel tells him that they were so drunk that they were striking the air and beating the earth. He had left them in the pond behind Prospero’s cave. Prospero asks him to hang some colourful clothes on a line to distract them when they approach. Soon the three – Caliban, Trinculo and Stephano – spot the colourful clothes. Caliban is eager and impatient to get on with the murder of Prospero, but Trinculo and Stephano are attracted by the clothes and are indifferent. Prospero, the powerful magician, unleash the spirits in the form of hounds to chase Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo away.

Critical Commentary

The masque included in this scene lessens our interest in the play. No doubt, the masque is an essential part of the main action which leads up to the union of two houses, Milan and Naples, and happiness of Ferdinand and Miranda, but it hampers our interest.

The masque has another importance in the play. It depicts the dominance of the supernatural elements in the play.

The second part of the scene depicts the ludicrous ending of the treacherous plot hatched by Caliban with Stephano and Trinculo. The plot failed to arouse our interest. The funny situation created by the three characters do provide some fun, but they are not of high standard.

The scene is important because it ends the plot to kill Prospero in his afternoon nap.

Significance of the Scene

  1. The Masque of Iris and Ceres confirms the idea that the play was written primarily for a royal wedding.
  2. The supernatural is dominant in the scene.
  3. The defeat of the conspiracy hatched by Caliban with Stephano and Trinculo helps move the action further.

Word Meanings

vexations : annoyance

ratify : confirm

disdain : hatred

Phoebus : the Sun god

Hymen : god of marriage

rabble : mob

abstemious : not allowing to have too much food

ardour : intensity

pertly : smartly

leas : fields

nymphs : water-maids

lass-lorn : forsaken by a girl

bow : rainbow

her son : Cupid, god of love

Paphos : Venus; sacred home

Mars : god of war

twain : two

Foison plenty : plentiful

naiads : spirits

distempered : angry

trumpery : garments, showy but inferior

mischance : misfortune

foot-licker : humble slave

pass of pate : witty joke

goblins : small ugly creatures

cat o’mountain : name of a leopard

tyrant : name of a dog

hogshead : a large cask

dropsy : a type of disease