When Caliban meets the two shipwrecked men, he is in bad mood and feeling more resentful than usual of Prospero, who sends spirits to bother him. The scene begins with Caliban lugging firewood and suggesting curses that could infect the magician. The newcomers’ appearance changes the scene’s tone from serious to comic; they are buffoons. Trinculo is first to enter the scene. Caliban is apparently the first person whom he has met on the island, and he comments on his unusual appearance, thinking this “strange beast” has fish-like arms. Caliban initially thinks Trinculo is one of Prospero’s spirits. Trinculo is apprehensive overall about what he might encounter in this alien environment and, frightened by the sound of thunder, hides under Caliban’s cloak.
Stephano next arrives on the scene. He has been drinking sack (wine) salvaged from the ship, and in his drunken state, mistakes the cloak: “Four legs and two voices—a most delicate monster!” Similar to an idea Trinculo expressed, he imagines making money by exhibiting this creature back in Europe. He gives alcohol to Caliban, who is soon drunk. He wonders that the men have dropped from heaven. As both Trinculo and Stephano mock Caliban as “a most poor, credulous monster,” he grows more docile and subservient from the alcohol. Praising Stephano as a god, he offers to show him the best the island has to offer.
Caliban realizes he might benefit from partnering with the strangers. He switches his sworn loyalty to them and away from Prospero. Caliban’s last line, as he contemplates the implications of having a new master and becoming a new man, are about his future liberation:
Freedom high-day! High-day, freedom! Freedom, high-day,