Caliban's Return

Act 5 Scene 1 – Key Scene

At Prospero’s command, Ariel has released Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo and led them to where Prospero is talking to Alonso and the other nobles. Stephano and Trinculo seem relieved to be reunited with their masters. Caliban is amazed to see the nobles and thinks they are spirits. He tells Prospero he is sorry. Prospero sends all three to work, tidying up his home.

You can take a look at an extract from this scene here. Using these steps, remember to look at it line by line and if you’re looking at the scene for the first time don’t worry if you don’t understand everything at once.

  • Look

    Take a look at the scene. Who has the most lines? Who uses prose and who uses verse? Actors at the RSC often put the language into their own words to help them understand what they are saying. We’ve added some definitions (in green), questions (in red) and paraphrased some sections (in blue) to help with this. You can click on the text that is highlighted for extra guidance.

    Is not this Stephano, my drunken butler?
    He is drunk now: where had he wine?
    And Trinculo is reeling ripe:
    How camest thou in this pickle?

    Trinculo is staggering around from drinking too much and he smells. How did you get into this situation?

    I have been in such a pickle since I saw you last that, I fear me, will never out of my bones.
    Why, how now, Stephano!
    O, touch me not; I am not Stephano, but a cramp.

    Full of pain

    You'ld be king o' the isle, sirrah?
    I should have been a sore one then.
    Ha, ha! What things are these, my lord Antonio? Will money buy 'em?
    Very like; one of them
    Is a plain fish, and, no doubt, marketable

    This is the first time Antonio speaks after seeing Prospero. What does he say and how do you think he feels at this moment?

    This is a strange thing as e'er I look'd on.
    He is as disproportion'd in his manners
    As in his shape.
    His mother was a witch, and one so strong
    That could control the moon. These three have robb'd me;
    And this demi-devil for he’s a bastard one, had plotted with them
    To take my life.
    Two of these fellows you
    Must know and own; this thing of darkness I
    Acknowledge mine.
    Hence, and bestow your luggage where you found it.
    Or stole it, rather.
    (As they exit) What a thrice-double ass
    Was I, to take this drunkard for a god
    And worship this dull fool!

    How do you think Caliban feels at this moment? Is he sorry for plotting against Prospero or sorry he chose the wrong man to follow?

    I shall be pinch'd to death.
    (Text edited for rehearsals by Gregory Doran)
  • Listen

    Read the scene aloud. Are there any words, phrases, or lines that stand out to you?

  • Imagine
    Explore some images from past versions of this moment at the RSC. Which sets and staging choices for this scene feel right to you?