The Tempest Act II, Scene 2
by William Shakespeare

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Act II, Scene 2 Summary

Caliban carries a pile of wood onto the stage and mutters curses aimed at Prospero. He says that he hopes Prospero will be infected with "All the infections that the sun sucks up / From bogs, fens, flats," and he complains that Prospero sends spirits to torment Caliban for "every trifle." He says that sometimes these spirits take the form of porcupines which prick his feet as he walks or snakes which "hiss [him] into madness."

At this point, Trinculo enters the scene, looking for somewhere to shelter from the coming storm. He sees Caliban but is confused as to what kind of creature Caliban might be. He speculates that Caliban might be a "man or a fish" and comments that he emits "a very ancient and fish-like smell." He thinks about capturing Caliban and taking him back to England, where he might display him in a freak show and charge people to come and look at him. However, hearing a sudden peal of thunder, Trinculo decides that his best option is to take shelter under Caliban's cloak.

At this point, Stephano enters, singing and drunk. He stumbles upon Caliban and Trinculo under Trinculo's cloak and imagines that he is looking upon "some monster of the isle with four legs." Stephano has a similar thought to Trinculo and contemplates capturing this strange creature as "a present for [an] emperor."

Caliban imagines that Stephano is one of Prospero's spirits, sent to torment him. In order to calm him down, Stephano gives Caliban alcohol. Trinculo then comes out from beneath the cloak and recognizes Stephano, but he is initially amazed because he thought Stephano had drowned.

Caliban, now a little drunk, thinks that Stephano must be a god because the alcohol tastes so good; Caliban describes it as "not earthly." Stephano then teases Caliban and tells him that he has come "Out o' th' moon." He makes Caliban swear to serve him, and Caliban promises to show him "every fertile inch o' the' island." He begs Stephano to be his god and to allow him to kiss his foot. Meanwhile, off to one side, Trinculo repeatedly and incredulously comments on Caliban's foolishness, calling him a "puppy-headed monster."

The scene concludes with Caliban promising to show Stephano "the best springs" and the places where "crabs grow." He also promises to fetch berries for Stephano and to fish for him. Stephano, pleased, tells Caliban to "lead the way without any more talking," and after this instruction, the characters leave the stage.