Tag Archives: Masque

RQ: Tempest Act 3 & 4

after Unknown artist,print,circa 1649


Keep the following questions in mind as you read The Tempest, Act 3 & 4. The questions are designed to guide your reading practices and our class discussions. You are not required to provide formal answers in class or online.

The Tempest, Act 3

What does Ferdinand mean when he says, “The mistress which I serve quickens what’s dead” (3.1.6)?

How’s Ferdinand’s history with women?

Ferdinand refers to himself as a “patient log man” (3.1.68) conscripted to “wooden slavery” (3.1.62). How do his descriptions of himself and his service compare to the epithet Stephano gives Caliban, “servant monster” (3.2.3)?

Has Miranda ever seen any other women?

Are Ferdinand and Miranda married by the end of 3.1?

Why does Caliban kneel before Trinculo & Stephano in 3.2? Why does Ariel contradict the story Caliban tells the other men?

There are a lot of vows taken in Act 3. Compare the vows Miranda and Ferdinand make to one another to the vows Caliban and Stephano exchange.

How do the conspirators plan to Kill Prospero? Compare the rebellion against Prospero to the plot to kill Alonso. Might also compare the two attempted murders to the attempted rape mentioned in 1.2.?

Why does Caliban instruct Stephano to “Burn but his books” (3.2.90) before he kills Prospero?

Why do you think that Caliban pledges his service to Stephano instead of leading the insurgency?

Is Caliban’s description of the isle based on experience or desire? Compare his description to Gonzalo & Trinculo’s.

What’s a “Living Drollery!” (3.3.21)? What does sight of it confirm for the nobles?

What’s a “quaint device” (SD 3.3.52)?

How does the sea function like a character in 3.3?

The Tempest, Act 4

What’s the relationship between the disappearing banquet in 3.3 and the nuptial masque in 4.1?

Banqueting House, Whitehall

In his aside at the end of act 3, Prospero says, “My high charms work” (3.3.88). What does he mean? Should we credit Prospero with saving Alonso or stirring up trouble between Trinculo and Stephano? Then compare Prospero’s previous claims to “art” with the play-in-the-play that he calls, “Some vanity of mine art” (4.1.41) he puts on for Miranda and Ferdinand.

What sorts of stipulations does Prospero attach to the the “gift” he gives to Ferdinand? What sorts of things will befall the couple if they do not follow Prospero’s instructions?

Compare Iris’ opening intonation to Ceres in the masque to Gonzalo’s utopian vision of the island? What rhetorical features do they share?

Does the weird pagan celebration at the heart of this play seem pagan and/or potentially sacrilegious? Is this the blessing that Prospero warned the couple to wait for?

Why can’t Venus come to the wedding celebration?

What sorts of blessings do the goddesses wish on the couple?

What does Ferdinand mean when he says: “Let me live here ever;/So rare a wondered father and a wise/Makes this place a paradise” (4.1.123-5)?


How & why does the masque end?

How does Prospero comfort Miranda and Ferdinand? Is he successful?

How does Prospero snare the conspirators?





Banqueting House, Inigo Jones, 1619


RQ: Tempest, Act 2 & Berensmeyer



Keep the following questions in mind as you read The Tempest, Act 2 and the second half of Ingo Berensmeyer, “Shakespeare and Media Ecology: Beyond Historicism and Presentism.” The questions are designed to guide your reading practices and our class discussions. You are not required to provide formal answers in class or online.

Tempest Act 2, Reading Questions

  • What does the Island look like? Where is it? Why can’t the nobles cannot agree on what should be object facts?
  • Who’s Dido & what purpose does the classical reference serve?
  • If Gonzalo had a plantation on the island, what would it be like? What assumptions does Gonzalo’s vision of his “plantation” make about “nature”? (2.1.143-59).
  • Is Alonso, the King of Naples, a good leader/administrator? Compare Alonso’s leadership with some of the other characters and their leadership skills: Prospero, Gonzalo, Sebastian, and Trinculo. Who’s kingdom would you most like to live in? Why does Ariel save Alonso from assassination?
  • What does Caliban look like when Trinculo meets him for the first time? How does Trinculo react to his first meeting with Caliban?
  • Compare Caliban’s description of the Island to other descriptions.
  • Where does Trinculo get the “sack” (fortified wine) that he and the rest of the conspirators drink?
  • Do the two scenes in act two suggest that conspiracy to overthrow the king is natural?
  • What sorts of monsters do the Europeans believe inhabit the island? What sorts of monsters actually inhabit the island?
  • Why does Caliban agree to help Trinculo and Stephano? Can he ever really be set free?
  • What key words, phrases, or images that get reptead in this act?

“Shakespeare and Media Ecology” Questions:

  • According to Berensmeyer, how have ideas about Shakespeare as an author shifted over the years & why? Is ‘history’ in The Tempest politically mediated and if so, why and/or how?
  • How does Berensmeyer’s definition of “media ecology” help account for supernatural elements in The Tempest?
  • Berensmeyer cites McLuen definition of media as “extensions of man” (520). When do we see media or technology as an extension of a character in The Tempest?
  • What does Berensmeyer mean when he says “Costumes provide a good example of this multilayered process of medialization” (524)?
  • What does Shakespeare expect from his audiences?
  • What’s a masque? why does it mean different things to early 17th c. audiences than it does to early 21st century audiences according to Berensmeyer? Why does Berensmeyer connect the fourth act nuptial masque with the 2012 London Olympics? Is he successful?