The Tempest : Main Plot and Sub Plot

 Main Plot and Sub Plot in The Tempest

Question  : Describe the main plot and the sub plots in “The Tempest”? 

Answer : The unity of action requires in a play only one main plot and does not permit any sub plots. But the romantic plays of Shakespeare contain one main plot and several sub plots, which are related to the main plot.

 The main Plot

Prospero’s Revenge

* The main plot in ‘The Tempest’ has the story of Prospero’s revenge on his enemies by using his magical powers.

*Prospero has been deprived of his dukedom by his brother Antonio, with the help of Alonso, the King of Naples.

* Antonio expelled Prospero from his dukedom, and cast him adrift with his three year old daughter, Miranda, in a rotten and dilapidated boat. Antonio hoped that the boat after facing the fury of the sea waves for some time, would capsize and that prospero and his daughter would die. 

* Only the humble Nobel Gonzalo has helped him. He secretly put food and fresh water in the boat in order to save their lives. He also placed Prospero’s  books on philosophy and magic in the boat so that he could pursue his studies. 

* Somehow he escapes death and reaches an uninhabited island.

* When the play opens, twelve years have passed since the ouster of Prospero from his dukedom. Prospero has acquired magic powers and control over several spirits of water,  spirits of air, spirits of earth and spirits of fire 

* Now he uses his supernatural powers for taking revenge on his enemies. 

* Prospero’s revenge is forgiveness, “Rarer action is in virtue rather than in vengeance” –he says.

* The evil doers must not be forgiven too easily, they must be made realize their guilt and they must be repentant.

*With the help of Ariel, Prospero succeeds in awakening conscience of Alonso and of Antonio  and Sebastian. 

*The play ends with the scene of repentance and reconciliation. 

Sub Plot 1

The Conspiracy of   Antonio & Sebastian

*This sub plot involves with the conspiracy of Antonio and Sebastian to murder Alonso.

* Finding Alonso and other members of the royal party asleep, Antonio instigates Sebastian to murder his brother Alonso and Sebastian agrees to this suggestion.

*This plot is foiled by Ariel. When the two villains are about to strike their victims, Ariel awakens Alonso and Gonzalo. 

*This is an example of “parallelism”  just as Antonio was treacherous towards his brother Prospero, similarly Sebastian was towards his brother Alonso.

*This sub plot emphasize the treacherous and villainy of Antonio and Sebastian and thus makes Prospero’s forgiveness towards these evil-doers took even nobler.

Sub Plot 3

The Intrigue of Caliban 

*The intrigue of Caliban is a comic sub plot in the play, it is not directly related with the main plot but used to provide a comic relief in the play.

* Caliban is an earthy dark spirit who is enslaved by Prospero.

* In spite of Prosperos efforts to civilise Caliban, he remains a beast.

*Prospero taught him human language but the monster curses Prospero.

* When he meets the drunken butler Stephano and his companion Trinculo, King Alonso’s jester, he hatches a plan to murder prospero. 

*Caliban is so cowardise that  he wants to murder Prospero with the help of drunken sailors.

*The plot is frustrated by Ariel and all the three conspirators are chased by Prosperos spirits appearing in the shape of dogs and hounds.

Sub Plot 3

The Love of Ferdinand and Miranda

*The love story of Ferdinand and Miranda is another subplot which is interconnected with the main plot. 

* Miranda is the daughter of Prospero, while Ferdinand is the son of his enemy, Alonso.

*They both are brought together by the magic of Prospero.

*The falling in love of these two is intended to emphasize the reconciliation which is the theme of the play.

*the union of Ferdinand and Miranda sets the seal upon the forgiveness and binds Prospero and Alonso with a close tie.

*Thus the love affair of Ferdinand and Miranda not only provide a romantic interest in the play but also a final reconciliation.

Find the title of the play click the link here
Tempest : the theme of pursuit of power

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