The Tempest Nature Quotes

This island’s mine, by Sycorax my mother,
Which thou tak’st from me. When thou cam’st first,
Thou strok’st me and mad’st much of me, wouldst give me
Water with berries in ‘t, and teach me how
To name the bigger light and how the less,
That burn by day and night. And then I loved thee,
And show’d thee all the qualities o’ th’ isle,
The fresh springs, brine-pits, barren place and fertile.
Cursed be I that did so! All the charms
Of Sycorax, toads, beetles, bats, light on you,
For I am all the subjects that you have,
Which first was mine own king; and here you sty me
In this hard rock, whiles you do keep from me
The rest o’ th’ island.

– William Shakespeare

The Tempest, Act 1, Scene 2. Caliban asserts his rights through his mother to the island, which he claims Prospero took from him by flattering him, giving him berries, teaching him about the sun and stars and then betraying him. He admits that he loved Prospero at first. He showed the magician all the qualities of the island with its freshwater springs and saltwater pits, Caliban being a native inhabitant and close to nature. But he curses himself for doing so, and Prospero as well, who now confines him in a cave on the island. Invoking the name of his witch mother Sycorax, Caliban once again calls on her wicked magic charms to curse his captor. He is unforgiving about how Prospero has mistreated and enslaved him. All of this raises the question of who is the monster here – Caliban or Prospero? Perhaps both!

Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises,
Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again: and then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open and show riches
Ready to drop upon me that, when I waked,
I cried to dream again.

– William Shakespeare

The Tempest, Act 3, Scene 2. This is one of the most poetic passages in The Tempest, spoken by Caliban, and the speech has a haunting and dream-like quality about it. It shows that Caliban is not just all monster and anger but a much more complicated and multi-sided character capable of eloquence and beautiful expression. He describes the magical qualities of his beloved island of which is a native, his deep attachment to it, and his own dreams. In his moving speech Caliban attempts to reassure the others, spooked by the invisible Ariel’s mysterious music resulting from Prospero’s magic, that the island is indeed full of sounds and music that give pleasure but don’t hurt. Does this poetic speech with its powerful imagery and calm and thoughtful language reflect the true nature of Caliban? Is his brutish and monstrous and side then a reaction to the cruel way he has been treated by his slave master Prospero – a case of nurture and not nature? If you treat a person like a monster, do they not sometimes become the monster? The Tempest is often seen as a critique on the cruel treatment of colonized peoples by their European colonizers, as depicted in Prospero’s treatment of Caliban and Ariel.

Now my charms are all o’erthrown,
And what strength I have’s mine own,
Which is most faint: now, ’tis true,
I must be here confined by you,
Or sent to Naples. Let me not,
Since I have my dukedom got
And pardoned the deceiver, dwell
In this bare island by your spell;
But release me from my bands
With the help of your good hands:
Gentle breath of yours my sails
Must fill, or else my project fails,
Which was to please. Now I want
Spirits to enforce, art to enchant,
And my ending is despair,
Unless I be relieved by prayer,
Which pierces so that it assaults
Mercy itself and frees all faults.
As you from crimes would pardoned be,
Let your indulgence set me free.

– William Shakespeare

The Tempest, Epilogue. Prospero’s fascinating and moving soliloquy before he exits the stage in what is thought to be William Shakespeare’s last play, is often taken as Shakespeare’s own farewell to the stage. Speaking to the audience, after the rest of the characters leave the stage, Prospero says that he has given up his magic powers to become an ordinary human being, reclaimed his dukedom and "pardoned the deceiver." He is about to return to the real world in Milan after living on his magical island. He asks his audience to set him free with their applause – "release me from my bands With the help of your good hands." In the final lines two he asks for the audience’s forgiveness for what he has done, to pardon him for his actions on the island which he is now restoring to its natural state, without his magic.