The Tempest Versions of Reality Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Act.Scene.Line). Line numbers correspond to the 2008 Norton edition.
As I told thee before, I am subject
to a tyrant, a sorcerer, that by his cunning hath
cheated me of the island. (3.2.46-48)
Is Caliban wrong? He says what he sees to be reality, and his reality is no less credible than Prospero's, a man who is also a victim of usurpation (each had his land and title taken away).
A living drollery! Now I will believe
That there are unicorns, that in Arabia
There is one tree, the phoenix' throne, one phoenix
At this hour reigning there.
I'll believe both;
And what does else want credit, come to me
And I'll be sworn 'tis true. Travellers ne'er did lie,
Though fools at home condemn 'em.
If in Naples
I should report this now, would they believe me?
If I should say, I saw such islanders—
For, certes, these are people of the island—
Who, though they are of monstrous shape, yet note
Their manners are more gentle, kind, than of
Our human generation you shall find
Many, nay, almost any. (3.3.26-41)
Once one fantasy is proven true, the seer can no longer trust what he believes to be reality.
You are three men of sin, whom Destiny,
That hath to instrument this lower world
And what is in 't, the never-surfeited sea
Hath caused to belch up you, and on this island,
Where man doth not inhabit, you 'mongst men
Being most unfit to live. I have made you mad;
And even with such-like valor men hang and drown
Their proper selves. (3.3.70-71)
Anyone whose conscience yelled at him for being a traitor would see this reality as a punishment for his wrongdoing. Sebastian and Antonio have such warped views of reality that only Alonso actually benefits from the reality check of the harpy. The other men have no consciences worth noting, and feel their reality is beyond moral consequence.