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disloyal. Every time he retells Ariel’s history, we feel, he must increase both the persuasiveness of his own story and his control over Ariel. This is why he now chooses to claim that Ariel is behaving badly—so that he can justify a retelling of the history, even though Ariel is perfectly respectful. He forces Ariel to recall the misery he suffered while trapped in the pine tree (“thy groans / Did make wolves howl,” I.ii.289–290). He then positions himself as the good savior who overthrew Sycorax’s evil. However, he immediately follows this with a forceful display of his own magical power, threatening to trap Ariel in an oak just as the “evil” Sycorax had trapped him in a pine. In this way, Prospero exercises control both intellectually and physically. By controlling the way Ariel and Miranda think about their lives, he makes it difficult for them to imagine that challenging his authority would be a good thing to do, and by threatening Ariel (and, shortly thereafter, Caliban) with magical torture, he sets very high stakes for any such rebellion. For his part, Ariel promises to “do my spiriting gently” from now on.Act I, scene ii (continued)Miranda’s awakening through end of the scene (I.ii.309–506)Summary
After Miranda is fully awake, Prospero suggests that they converse with their servant Caliban, the son of Sycorax. Caliban appears at Prospero’s call and begins cursing. Prospero promises to punish him by giving him cramps at night, and Caliban responds by chiding Prospero for imprisoning him on the island that once belonged to him alone. He reminds Prospero that he showed him around when he first arrived. Prospero accuses Caliban of being ungrateful for all that he has taught and given him. He calls him a “lying slave” and reminds him of the effort he made to educate him (I.ii.347). Caliban’s hereditary nature, he continues, makes him unfit to live among civilized people and earns him his isolation on the island. Caliban, though, cleverly notes that he knows how to curse only because Prospero and Miranda taught him to speak. Prospero then sends him away, telling him to fetch more firewood and threatening him with more cramps and aches if he refuses. Caliban obeys him.Ariel, playing music and singing, enters and leads in Ferdinand. Prospero tells Miranda to look upon Ferdinand, and Miranda, who has seen no humans in her life other than Prospero and Caliban, immediately falls in love. Ferdinand is similarly smitten and reveals his identity as the prince of Naples. Prospero is pleased that they are so taken with each other but decides that the two must not fall in love too quickly, and so he accuses Ferdinand of merely pretending to be the prince of Naples. When he tells Ferdinand he is going to imprison him, Ferdinand draws his sword, but Prospero charms him so that he cannot move. Miranda attempts to persuade her father to have mercy, but he silences her harshly. This man, he tells her, is a mere Caliban compared to other men. He explains that she simply doesn’t know any better because she has never seen any others. Prospero leads the charmed and helpless Ferdinand