The Tempest Act 2 Scene 1 Notes ISC Class 11 and Class 12

Summary

A group of passengers including Alonso, Antonio and Sebastian are talking to one another in another part of the island after having been safely brought there by Ariel, a spirit controlled by Prospero. Alonso’s son Ferdinand has leapt into the sea in the storm and is thought to be drowned.

Gonzalo one of the courtiers, tries to console Alonso, the king of Naples, who is saddened by the supposed death of his son, Ferdinand. But Alonso desires to be left along . Sebastian and Antonio try to lessen Alonso’s sadness by ridiculing Gonzalo. Sebastian remarks that it is the King’s fault for marrying off his daughter to the king of Tunis. Had he not done so, there would have been no need to undertake such a long journey. Gonzalo does not relish Sebastian’s remarks and so criticizes him for being so insensitive to the situation. Alonso shows no interest in their conversation , but Gonzalo passes on by saying that if he were the ruler of the island, he would not allow money, commerce, learning, laws, servants, masters, farming, work, technology or weapons to intrude the island. Sebastian and Antonio make fun of his strange vision. Ariel enters the scene and makes everyone except these two to sleep.

Antonio provokes Sebastian to kill his brother, the king of Naples , and seize his kingdom. Sebastian entertains this idea because he thinks that as Ferdinand is drowned, and Alonso’s daughter is married off to a distant place, he could easily become the king. He remembers that Antonio too overthrew his brother and asks him if his conscience pricks him. Antonio answers him that his conscience never bothers him. They agree to execute their plan. They decide to take out their swords and kill Alonso and Gonzalo. In the meanwhile, Ariel awakens Gonzalo who rouses others with a shout. All get up and see the two- Sebastian and Antonio – standing with their swords out. Sebastian makes a lame excuse by saying that a roar in the distant made them take out their swords.

The roar of the animal at the distant place frightens the courtiers and forces them to move away from that spot to another part of the island in search of Alonso’s son Ferdinand.

Critical Commentary

In this scene, Gonzalo, Antonio, and Sebastian involve themselves in a witty and humorous conversation.

Gonzalo strikes a positive note in his remarks whereas Antonio and Sebastian strike negative notes in their comments. From their remarks, we come to know that Gonzalo is an honest and good person who looks on the bright side of things. He is happy just to be alive. Antonio is a cynical and deceitful man. He is always planning to manipulate things in his favour. He has no regard for the king. Sebastian is also a cynic. He lacks moral strength and Antonio’s initiative. Thus he is always ready to follow Antonio.

This scene reveals the plot hatched by Antonio and Sebastian, to murder Alonso and Gonzalo. In fact, it is Antonio who initiates this plot and provokes Sebastian to murder Alonso. Sebastian entertains¬† his idea because he thinks that as Ferdinand is drowned, and Alonso’s daughter is married off to a distant place, he could easily become the kind. He recollects that Antonio too overthrew his brother and asks him if his conscience pricks him. Antonio answers that his conscience never bother him. They agree to execute their plan but Gonzalo who wakes up at the right time foils their plot.

In this scene, we find the supremacy of Prospero’s magic and the failure of the conspiracy hatched by Antonio and Sebastian to murder Alonso and Gonzalo. Ariel, the airy spirit, who obeys the commands of Prospero, awakes Gonzalo¬† who foils the plot hatched by Antonio and Sebastian.

Thus the treacherous plot hatched by Antonio and Sebastian to kill Alonso, the king of Naples, and Gonzalo, the old courtier is foiled by Prospero through Ariel.

Significance of the Scene

  1. This scene is set in another part of the island.
  2. The characters in this scene are minor but important.
  3. Shakespeare’s knowledge and interest in the explorations and discoveries of the time is revealed here.
  4. The plot of Antonio and Sebastian , thwarted by Ariel, only re-affirms their evil nature.

Word Meanings

wager : stake

lusty : vigorous

vouched : guaranteed

drenched : wet

harp : a musical instrument

my sense : my inclination

contentious : angry

chirurgeonly : like a true surgeon

traffic : trade

felony : crime

minister : provide

flat-long : flat side of the sword

mettle : courage

heavy : drowsy

custom : habit

earthed : buried

prate : talk too much

kibe : sore on the heel

shaked : shook