The Tempest Act-Wise Summary (Act IV)


The Tempest is considered one of the last plays written by Shakespeare, and is believed to be written during 1610-1611. It is believed that through this play Shakespeare bid farewell to his audiences and that he has used Prospero’s character to voice some of his interior monologues. Today it is considered as one of the best works of Shakespeare and has been adapted and performed in many forms and styles, including operas, paintings and songs.


ReadAct-Wise Summary (Act I) here.

ReadAct-Wise Summary (Act II) here.

Read Act-Wise Summary (Act III) here.


Scene I

Prospero assures that Ferdinand has passed the test on his devotion and commitment to receive the hand of Miranda. He further says that Ferdinand will find Miranda to be a woman beyond all praise. He warns Ferdinand not to develop any sexual relationship with her before the ceremony of marriage which will have duly been performed. Ferdinand gives Prospero a solemn assurance that he would do no such thing till the rites of marriage have been performed.

A show is to be stage on account of presenting to the eyes of both Ferdinand and Miranda by the use of Prospero’s supernatural powers.  Prospero summons Arial and praises him of the success of previous task and instructs to bring a multitude of the subordinate spirits to stage a show before Ferdinand and Miranda. Meanwhile he again urges Ferdinand to keep his passion under control and Ferdinand again gives due assurance. For the show, a large number of superhuman beings appear one after the other.

The first to appear is Iris, the goddess of the rainbow and also the messenger of Juno (the wife of the supreme god Jupiter.) Iris makes a long speech by means of which she summons Ceres, the goddess of the earth and of agriculture. In this speech Iris describes Ceres as a bountiful lady to whom belong the rich and fertile fields of wheat, barley and oats, and to whom also belongs the grass-covered mountains where live the sheep who graze there. Iris calls upon Ceres to come and play with Juno.

Ceres appears and asks the reason why she has been summoned; Iris explains that is due to the celebration of the union of two lovers and to bestow her blessing upon them. Ceres asks if Venus and her son Cupid would also present at those celebrations but Iris informs that Venus and Cupid had certainly wanted to come and do some mischief but that their plan had come to nothing and they had both gone back in a state of dejection. Ceres points out that she has been harbouring a strong grievance against Venus and Cupid because they had helped Pluto to abduct her daughter Proserpina from the earth to his own kingdom.

Next arrives Juno and pronounces her blessings upon Ferdinand and Miranda for a longer life for that they are going to get married. Ceres blesses for them to have a bountiful life not to be troubled by the want of anything or by a scarcity of any commodity. Ferdinand is greatly impressed by the power of Prospero who has the ability to summon spirits like that. Then Iris calls upon the nymphs in the island to perform a graceful dance.

Suddenly Prospero orders to stop all the entertainment and asks nymphs to leave. They melt away then. Prospero philosophically proclaims that all the living and non-living things are subjected to be melted away in that manner. Prospero then tells Ferdinand that he is feeling somewhat mentally disturbed and that he would like to be alone in order to calm himself. Ferdinand and Miranda thereupon leave.

Prospero then with the Ariel’s support plots to thwart Caliban’s plot to murder him and punish his evil deed. Ariel reveals that he lured them to a filthy pond near Prospero’s cell and made them dance in the foul water. Prospero complements him and asks him to bring some gaudy and cheap garments from his cell to set a trap upon the evil ones. Prospero is worried that his all the efforts to make Caliban a good person have failed. Prospero orders Ariel to hang the garments brought on a line. They wait for the conspirators’ invisible to human eyes. A little later they arrive hoping Prospero must be asleep at this time. They are in a miserable state getting drenched in the water and losing their precious liquor in the pond. Caliban draws the attention of Stephano to the Prospero’s cell and asks him to enter there silently to kill him. Caliban is eager to be the foot-licker of the new king after the death of Prospero.

Just then when they are ready to execute the plan, they are attracted to the garments hung on the line by Ariel. Caliban knowing that these garments are merely trash, asks Trinculo to pay no attention to them and let Stephano to carry out the purpose for which they have all come here. But Stephano too feels attracted by the showy garments and believe them to be an expensive kind of wardrobe. Prospero rightly judged them and believes them to forget their plan to murder him by seeing the garments.

As Stephano and Trinculo are trying to select the garments to suit their bodies and seeing the effect they produce, Prospero summons some of his spirits and asks them to change into dogs and hounds and order them to attack the three fellows. Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo take to their heels. However, it is not Prospero’s intention to kill any one. He asks Ariel to go and tell his goblins to inflict all kinds of torments upon these three fellows.  

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