The Tempest Banquet Scene : Act 3 Scene 3 Question Answers

 Significance of the role of Ariel as  Harpy 

     Question : What role does Ariel play as a harpy? How does it prove to be effective ?

     Answer:  As soon as, Alonso and other are about to touch the food that appeared in the banquet, the roar of thunder is heard. Flashes of lightening are seen on the sky. Then Ariel in the guise of the harpy – a monster with face of a woman and body and claws of a vulture – appears. The harpy hits the table with its wings. The banquet disappears at once. 
    Then Ariel makes an accusing speech heard only by the three men, Alonso, Sebastian and Antonio.
     Ariel calls them the “three men of sin” and because of the working of destiny that they were “belch up” or thrown on this island by “the never surfeited sea”, who swallows everything yet never satisfied. 
    Ariel says, that this island has no human inhabitants. You have been thrown up on this island because you are the most unfit to live.
     On hearing these words, Antonio, Sebastian and Alonso take out their swords to attack the harpy. Then Ariel calls them fools and says-

“You fools ! I and my fellows
Are ministers of fate. The elements, 
Of whom your swords are tempered, may as well
Wound the loud winds, or with be mock’d at stabs
Kill the still closing waters, as diminish
One dowl that’s in my plume ; My fellow ministers
Are like invulnerable.”

    Ariel says – You fools, I and my companions are the agents of Destiny. The material with which your swords are made, can not harm even a little of my feathers. Just as your sword can not inflict any wound upon the roaring winds or the roaring waters which would close up unhurt after being inflicted with every stroke, showing your ineffectiveness. similarly my companions are invulnerable or unconquerable and can not be hurt.
    The harpy then reminds them, of their grave injustice that they ousted noble Prospero from his dukedom of Milan and exposed him and his innocent daughter to the dangers of the sea. It was to punish you three for that every criminal deed that the supernatural powers raised dangerous storm at the sea.
    Harpy further addresses Alonso – 

  “Thee of thy son, Alonso,
 They have bereft and do pronounce by me
 Ling’ring perdition, “

    Here Harpy says to Alonso, that destiny has deprived you of your son. Through harpy you are now being informed that you have been  condemned to a slow torture which is worse than any kind of instantaneous death. So long as you live, you will suffer a slow torture.
   He can redeem himself if he genuinely repents for his evil deed. 
     The other two – Sebastian and Antonio – would also be punished severely unless they repent for their misdeeds. Harpy warns them, that if they repent of their evil deeds and decide to lead pious lives, they would be saved from the wrath of the supernatural powers, otherwise the fury of these powers would descend upon them to torture and torment them. After this warning to the three sinners, the harpy disappears.
    As per classical mythology harpies are represented as disgusting monsters. The gods sent them to torment the blind Phineus. Whenever food was placed in front of him these harpies pounced on the food. They either carried the food with them, or defiled it.
    Ariel denounces the crime of Alonso, Sebastian and Antonio. The three evil men feel guilt – striken. They are dazed and confused. Alonso seems to be the most affected with the proclamations of Ariel. 
    Gonzalo, seeing them in miserable stat, rightly guesses –

 “All three of them are desperate; their great guilt,
Like poison given to work a great time after, 
 Now ‘gins to bit the spirits.”
     When Prospero comes face to face with them, the three conspirators ask for forgiveness. Prospero is given back his dukedom. Alonso gives his consent willing to Ferdinand’s marriage to Miranda. Thus Ariel does his service well, as a harpy, and is finally rewarded with his much cherished freedom by Prosepro. 

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