You are on page 1of 4

STUDY QUESTIONS FOR THE TEMPEST

Return to Sample Page

Introduction
1. What was happening in Shakespeare's career when he wrote The Tempest?
2. What two distinctions does The Tempest have among Shakespeare's plays?
3. Why is there no real suspense in the play? What does Shakespeare use as a substitute?
4. List five elements the four romances have in common.
5. What unusual material was used as background for Shakespeare's description of the
storm and shipwreck?
6. Summarize the French essayist Montaigne's ideas on cannibals.
Act I, Scene 1:
7. What exactly are the Boatswain and the crew trying to do in the first part of this scene?
8. What is the "social storm" which occurs in the opening scene?
9. Why is Gonzalo sure the Boatswain will not die by drowning?
Act I, Scene 2:
10. What is Miranda's reaction when she sees the ship run aground? What does this tell us about her character?
11. Why hasn't Prospero told Miranda where they came from before this time?
12. What are the three things associated with Prospero's magical power?
13. Explain what is meant by "the paradox of the romances" exemplified by Miranda's
question at line 60 that begins, "What foul play.."
14. Why would many in Shakespeare's audience find Prospero at least in part responsible for
his own overthrow as the Duke?
15. Why didn't Alonso and Antonio simply murder Prospero and Miranda after they were
captured?
16. What natural phenomenon did Ariel imitate to terrify the passengers on the ship?
17. How many different groups of castaways has Ariel dispersed around the island? Why?
18. Ariel is associated with which two of the four basic elements? What is Ariel's gender?

19. Although associated with Bermuda, where is Prospero's island in the play?
20. Who is Sycorax and why did she lock Ariel in a tree for 12 years?
21. Despite his bluster and crankiness, why will Prospero not put Ariel in an oak tree?
22. What are the arguments for giving Miranda's speech condemning Caliban at line 351 -- 362 to
Prospero? What are the arguments for Miranda saying the lines?

23. Who is the most eloquent character in the play? Why did Shakespeare give this character such memorable
lines?

24. What's unusual about the lines of the second song Ariel sings to Ferdinand?
25. Upon first seeing each other, Ferdinand and Miranda both mistake the other for what?
26. What three questions does Ferdinand ask when he first speaks to Miranda?
27. Why does Prospero deliberately separate and threaten Miranda and Ferdinand?
Act II, Scene 1:
28. What physical evidence demonstrates that a magical power has brought the castaways
safely to the island?
29. Why doesn't Alonso believe his son might still be alive?
30. List five aspects of the ideal society Gonzalo describes in lines 152 -- 169.
31. Why does Ariel put everyone but Antonio and Sebastian to sleep?
32. What words do Antonio and Sebastian avoid saying as they discuss assassination in lines
265 -- 300?
33. What excuse do Antonio and Sebastian offer when everyone awakens and finds them
with their swords drawn?
Act II, Scene 2:
34.What is the origin of "Setebos," the name of Sycorax's god?
35. What does Trinculo mistake Caliban for when he first sees him on the ground?
36. What does Stephano want to do with Caliban when he first finds him?
37. How does Stephano explain the "monster" created when Trinculo and Caliban are under
the same cloak?
38. What name do Stephano and Trinculo end up calling Caliban?

39. For what does Caliban at first mistake Stephano and Trinculo?
40. What is the basis for Stephanos' political power?
41. Why does Trinculo take such a dislike for Caliban from the beginning?
Act III, Scene 1:
42. Why has Prospero ordered Ferdinand to haul logs?
43. In matters of courtship and the pursuit of love, Miranda has _______ experience and
Ferdinand has _____ experience.
44. Who first proposes marriage?
Act III, Scene 2:
45. What is Caliban's first significant effort at leadership in the play?
46. What does Caliban use as bait to get Stephano to agree to overthrow Prospero?
47. How many different ways has Caliban come up with to kill Prospero? How is Caliban's
discussion of assassination different from that of Antonio and Sebastian?
48. Why is Caliban's description of Ariel's magical music at lines 140 -- 148 especially
poetic?
49. What is Stephano and Trinculo's initial reaction to the music? What do they end up doing about the music?
Act III, Scene 3:
50. How do the members of the royal party explain the fantastic creatures that suddenly
appear?
51. What disguise does Ariel adopt in this scene? Why?
52. Who hears the "words of doom"? To what specific crime are these "words of doom"
linked?
53. According to the message of doom, what is the only way the "three men of sin" can save
themselves?
54. How does each of the men of sin react to the message of doom?
Act IV, Scene 1:
55. About what does Prospero become obsessed after the youngsters become engaged? Why?
56. What is a "masque"? List three elements of the court masque found in the wedding
masque in this play?

57. Which two mythological figures are specifically excluded from the masque? Why?
58. Explain why Prospero's speech at the end of the masque (lines 148 -- 158) has been taken
as Shakespeare's farewell to the stage.
59. Why does Prospero have Ariel hang "glistering apparel" from the tree?
60. How are the conspirator chased from the stage?
Act V, 1:
61. How does Ariel seem to reawaken Prospero's sense of sympathy at the beginning of this
scene?
62. According to his speech at lines 33 -- 58, from whom has Prospero gotten his magical
powers?
63. Explain why it was important to Shakespeare's audience that Prospero gives up his
magical power voluntarily.
64. What famous contemporary play does Shakespeare deliberately echo in the conclusion of
Prospero's speech (lines 54 -- 57)?
65. How and why does Prospero change his appearance when he first meets the royal party
face-to-face?
66. What is Alonso's reaction (line 149 --150) when Prospero tells him he too has lost a child
in the recent storm? Why is this statement important for what Prospero plans next?
67. What are Miranda and Ferdinand doing when Prospero opens his cell?
68. What is Miranda's famous reaction when she sees all the newcomers?
69. Which character most fully articulates the philosophical significance of all that has
happened?
70. Which character among the conspirators has changed and grown the most? What is Prospero's reaction to
this character?

71. What is Prospero's final request in the play and to whom is it made?

Related Interests