How do Stephano, Trinculo and Caliban respond to the magic of the island in act 3, scene 2 and act 4, scene 1?

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In Act 3, scene 2, Caliban persuades Stephano and Trinculo to kill Prospero. Ariel is present, though invisible, listening to the three as they plan their cruel plot. After singing a raucous tune, the three are surprised to hear the same tune played on a tabor and pipe. Of course,...

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In Act 3, scene 2, Caliban persuades Stephano and Trinculo to kill Prospero. Ariel is present, though invisible, listening to the three as they plan their cruel plot. After singing a raucous tune, the three are surprised to hear the same tune played on a tabor and pipe. Of course, Ariel played the tune to charm the fools and lead them to a foul pool of water. Stephano and Trinculo are afraid of the music at first and believe it comes from a demon spirit. However, Caliban assures them that the music is harmless just as are all the often heard noises of delight that fill the island.

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In Act 4, scene 1, at first Stephano and Trinculo don't really realize magic has been done on them. They blame Caliban. Then, they are awestruck by Prospero's wealth, still without realizing any of it is magical. They are taken in by the magic, in part precisely because they don’t realize it is happening. Caliban in this scene is wiser than they are; he's afraid. Their final response in this scene is to run away, herded by the spirits Prospero's called. They are therefore afraid and helpless.

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Shakespeare has an interesting way of incorporating magic into this play. In both scenes you inquired about, the characters associate the fantastic things that were happening with dreams.

In Act 3, scene 2, remember that the characters are drunk, and at first they are confused by the strange happenings. Ariel instigates and anger erupts among the men--they are angry that Prospero has trapped them on the island. The men plan to murder Prospero. They rally together and begin to sing off key, when Ariel chimes in with his pipe. The men are frightened, but Caliban tries to ease their mind:

"Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises,/Sounds, and sweet airs [tunes], that give delight and hurt not./Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments/Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices,/ That if I then had waked after long sleep/Will make me sleep again; and then in dreaming/The clouds methought would open and show riches/Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked/I cried to dream again."

In Act 4, Scene 1, the trio encounters lavish garments that tempt all but Caliban. This, again, instigates an argumentative situation.

Earlier in the scene (lines 115-119), Ferdinand also associates his experience with a dream. Upon seeing Juno, Iris, and Ceres, Ferdinand says, "This is a most majestic vision.." According to the Shakespeare Lexicon, the "majestic vision" suggests a dream. A few lines down (155-159) Prospero also alludes to dreaming.

 

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