Questions on The Tempest, Act I and Act II


1) Why is it significant that the play begins with a storm at sea?

2) Why does Miranda have such immediate empathy for the men in the ship? Since she’s lived on a deserted island all her life, how did she learn pity and mercy?

3) Think about how you might tell someone the story of your past. How would you characterize yourself? How does Prospero characterize himself? Does he take any responsibility for what happened to him? Should he?

4) What crime did Antonio commit? What motivated him? How should he be punished?

5) What do you imagine the spirit Ariel looks like?

6) What do you imagine the witch Sycorax looks like?

7) What do you imagine Caliban looks like?

8) What connection does Shakespeare make between outward appearance and inner spirit? Do you think it’s true? Why or why not?

9) What is your reaction to Prospero’s treatment of Caliban? Does Caliban have a right to be angry at Prospero? Should he rule the island?

10) What reason does Prospero give for enslaving Caliban? Do you think Prospero is right in his actions?

11) During Ferdinand & Miranda’s first encounter he says: “O, if a virgin, And your affection not gone forth, I’ll make you Queen of Naples. What is he saying? Why does her virtue matter?


1) What type of person is Gonzalo? What was his role in the plot against Prospero? Does his behavior seem consistent with how he acts now?

2) Sebastian and Antonio ridicule Gonzalo. What does this tell us about their characters?

3) Antonio incites Sebastian to kill his brother Antonio and take the crown of Naples. What does this tell us about Antonio’s nature and motives? How does Sebastian respond? What does it tell us about him?

4) Why do you think Caliban willingly worships Stephano? Why is he willing to give Stephano control of the island?