Synopsis of Act 5 Scene 1 of The Tempest by William Shakespeare

Overview of The Tempest Act 5 Scene 1

Summary from The Tempest Act 5 Scene 1

In the final act of the play, the actions are resolved. Prospero, with great satisfaction, tells Ariel that his plans are going to be fulfilled. The three sinners are crazy and others are depressed by what has happened.

Prospero says that although the three sinners have done grievous wrong against him and his daughter, he would forgive them as forgiveness is nobler than revenge. His main intention was, to make them realize the seriousness of their crime and that is almost fulfilled. He then orders to break the magic spell and release all the people who are confined to the lime grove.

 After the departure of Ariel, Prospero addresses all the spirits of hills, water and groves and thanks to them for their help in fulfilling multifarious activities he did on the island. He announces that he has decided to renounce his supernatural powers; that he is going to break his magic wand and throw it in the sea along with his magic books.

At this time Ariel appears scouting the wrongdoers and the rest. They are made to stand in a circle drawn by the master magician and they are still under his influence. Prospero greets Gonzalo as the most righteous and worthy person and thanks to him for his help. Then he chastises Alonso, Antonio, and Sebastian, reminding each of them the sins each has committed, especially Antonio, his brother, who could even think of fratricide. But in the end, he magnanimously forgives them.

By this time the stunned group was regaining senses. Prospero puts his regular clothes to make them convinced that he is alive. He also sends for the captain of the ship and his assistant to be present. They happily convey the news that the ship is intact and better than ever. Alonso and others are led into Prospero's cave. They are delighted to find Ferdinand there. Miranda is introduced as the lovely girl whom Ferdinand chose as his wife in the absence of his father. Alonso apologizes to the father and daughter and promises to return Milan to its rightful owner. Gonzalo, having understood the whole situation prays to heaven to bless the couple. Alonso gives his blessings for the marriage.

The three mischief-makers are dealt with, in a mild manner. Prospero asks Caliban and his friends to clean his cell as their punishment. Prospero invites his royal friends to take rest in his cave and promises to tell them all the happenings since he was exiled from his dukedom. He also says that they can leave in the morning for Naples, where the marriage of Miranda and Ferdinand will be solemnized. Ariel is released from his bondage and left to roam in the island as he wishes. Everything ends smoothly, making the curtains drop on a beautifully crafted and delightful play.

The play ends with an epilogue, in which the actor who has played the role of Prospero requests the audience to applaud the performance. Just as God forgives all and in his infinite mercy releases them from sins, the audience should take mercy and allow him to leave the stage.

Critical Analysis of The Tempest Act 5 Scene 1

In the final stage of the play, all the happenings are resolved. The play ends with the grand theme of forgiveness. The plan of the protagonist to make the wrong-doers realize the magnitude of their crime is fulfilled; revenge is not as important as forgiveness is the Christian theme which is conveyed through the play. The minor characters like Caliban and his friends are also let off with minor punishments. The sub-plot of love between Miranda and Ferdinand comes to a happy ending with all the separated ones coming together. The theme of freedom is reinforced with Ariel getting free of his bondage.

An autobiographical element of the play comes through especially in the epilogue. Shakespeare deciding to give up his literary pursuits finds a parallel in Prospero renouncing his powers. Shakespeare had mesmerized the world of theatre with his memorable plays just as Prospero had done with the spirits on the island. Prospero leaving for Milan is reminiscent of Shakespeare retiring to his native place.


relish - fancy:
vengeance - revenge, repayment:
solemn - formal:
promontory - headland, peninsula:
abjure - take back;
fathoms - unit of length:
hearty - cordial:
perforce - inescapably;
chronicle - record in a factual way;
wrangle - argument;
beauteous – ravishing, beautiful;
acquaintance - awareness of;
renown - stardom:
prophesied - predict;
gallant - splendid:
diligence - alertness:
infest - annoy;
chastise - punish;
reeling - stagger;
solemnized - duly perform; bring - accompany; draw near - come inside. 
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