The Log Scene

Act 3 Scene 1 – Key Scene

In this scene Ferdinand is piling up all the logs as Prospero has commanded him. He says he puts up with this task because he wants to see Miranda again. Miranda interrupts him and tries to make him stop so that he can talk to her instead. Prospero secretly watches them and is delighted they have fallen in love.

You can take a look at an extract from this scene and watch it in performance 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. How are the two characters’ lines different from each other? 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.
    Alas, now pray you,
    Work not so hard. I would the lightning had
    Burnt up those logs that you are enjoined to pile.

    Pray, set it down and rest you: when this burns
    ’Twill weep for having wearied you.
    My father Is hard at study: pray now, rest yourself,
    He’s safe for these three hours.

    Stop working so hard. If only the lightning in the storm had burned all those logs you wouldn’t be forced to pile them up.

    How often do you think Miranda has disobeyed her father before now? What gives you that impression?

    O most dear mistress,
    The sun will set before I shall discharge
    What I must strive to do.

    It will be sunset before I have finished what I have to do.

    If you’ll sit down,
    I’ll bear your logs the while: pray give me that,
    I’ll carry it to the pile.
    No, precious creature,
    I had rather crack my sinews, break my back,
    Than you should such dishonour undergo,
    While I sit lazy by.

    Why do you think Ferdinand does not want Miranda to help him carry the logs? What impression does his language give of him as a character?

    It would become me
    As well as it does you; and I should do it
    With much more ease, for my good will is to it,
    And yours it is against.

    There is often a visual joke in productions at this moment where Miranda easily picks up a heavy log that Ferdinand had struggled with. What impression would this give of Ferdinand and of Prospero's power?

    Poor worm, thou art infected.
    This visitation shows it.

    How do you think Prospero feels as he spies on his daughter with Ferdinand?

    You look wearily.
    No, noble mistress, ’tis fresh morning with me
    When you are by at night.
    I do beseech you,
    Chiefly that I might set it in my prayers,
    What is your name?

    When you are with me, I feel as refreshed as though it is first thing in the morning

    Miranda.— O my father,
    I have broke your hest to say so.


    Admired Miranda,
    Indeed the top of admiration, worth
    What’s dearest to the world!

    Ferdinand plays on Miranda’s name, starting by calling her 'Admired Miranda' and then combining the two words to make 'admiration'. What does Ferdinand's use of words reveal about him?

    (Text edited for rehearsals by Gregory Doran)
  • Watch
    Read the scene aloud, then watch the actors trying it in different ways. Which way feels right? What in the language makes you think that? Are there any words or lines that really stand out? At the end of the film you will see their final performance. How do the characters come across in this?
  • Imagine
    Explore some images from past versions of Ferdinand and Miranda at the RSC. Which sets and costume choices feel right to you?