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Skip to 0 minutes and 16 secondsProspero was the ruler of Milan in Italy, but he was betrayed by his brother, Antonio. Antonio took control of the city and ordered his soldiers to kill Prospero and his family. Prospero managed to escape in a small boat with his books about magic and his young daughter, Miranda. Together, they sailed away to an island where they lived for the next 12 years along with a strange half-human called Caliban, who Prospero has made his slave. During this time, Prospero's brother, Antonio, has ruled Milan. One day, he goes to a wedding in Tunisia. And on the way back from the wedding, his ship passes close to the island where Prospero and Miranda are living.

Skip to 1 minute and 15 secondsProspero uses his magic to cause a violent storm with thunder and lightning. Antonio and all the other people on the ship are frightened and think they're going to sink. The ship's passengers all survive the storm and land safely on the island. But they're in separate groups, so they don't know if the others have survived, too. One of the survivors of the shipwreck was a young man named Ferdinand, who was travelling on the ship with his father. Both Ferdinand and his father have survived the shipwreck, but they don't know that the other is alive. On the island, Ferdinand goes exploring, and he meets Miranda.

Skip to 2 minutes and 7 secondsMiranda has never met a young man before, and she and Ferdinand fall in love at first sight. Prospero does not want things to develop too quickly between his daughter and this man, so he uses his magic to make Ferdinand work for him. Soon, Prospero frees Ferdinand from his work and agrees that Miranda and Ferdinand can get married. He prepares some magic for them, and the happy couple sit down to watch the performance. Prospero's slave, Caliban, also meets two other survivors of the shipwreck. They get drunk together, and Caliban persuades the other two to kill Prospero. The three drunk men arrive at Prospero's hut all ready to kill him, but Prospero distracts them by leaving rich, colourful clothes there.

Skip to 3 minutes and 9 secondsWhen the three drunks see the clothing, they decide to steal it instead of killing Prospero. They are then attacked by a group of dogs and run away. When Antonio, Prospero's brother, arrives at the hut, Prospero tells everyone his life story and what Antonio did to him 12 years earlier in Milan. Prospero says that he now forgives Antonio for betraying him. Prospero also forgives the three drunks for planning to murder him. He then reunites Ferdinand and his father. Finally, some sailors arrive and announce that the ship is fine after all and is safe and ready to sail back to Italy. Prospero says he doesn't want to be a magician anymore.

Skip to 4 minutes and 4 secondsInstead, he will go back to Italy and become the ruler of Milan once again.

The story of The Tempest

Actor James Garnon tells the story of The Tempest.

What happens to each of the characters?

  • Prospero
  • Miranda
  • Caliban
  • Antonio
  • Ferdinand

Share your ideas with other learners.

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This video is from the free online course:

Exploring English: Shakespeare

British Council