Prospero was the Duke of Milian…until he spent too much time focusing on learning magic and sorcery. This gave his brother a window of opportunity to come in to Milian and essentially steal it from him. Antonio (his brother) was not such a nice guy, he put Prospero and his brother’s daughter in an old wine cask (cut in half) and set them out to sea. Present day: Miranda and Prospero have been marooned on this island for fifteen some years. Prospero used magic to enslave the only resident of the island, Caliban (the island previously belonged to his mother who died – but she was a witch-hag and Caliban was not quite human).
As luck would have it, his sworn enemy, the King of Naples (who consorted with his brother to steal Milan from him), will be sailing near the island on their way back from the King marrying his daughter off to the king of Tunis. Using his magic, Prospero and his enslaved spirit, Ariel, create a tempest (aka a nasty storm) that rocks the boat around. Some mariners jump off, others prepare for death. But Ariel and Prospero hide the people not necessary for his little game all around the island with an enchanting spell to make them sleep. He brings the king’s son, Ferdinand to see Miranda because his plotted to get his dukedom back by having his daughter marry Alonso’s son.
Some power struggles happen – assassinations planned but foiled, Cailban whined over the island being rightfully his, Alonso cried because he misses his son and believes him dead, and some more filler conversations that elaborate on the plot but really aren’t key to the plot. I’ll skip over those – if you are dying to know, just comment on the post and I’ll explain.
When Ferdinand see’s Miranda (and vice versa) for the first time they instantly fall in love. She even proposes marriage and he accepts before they tell each other their names (I think she proposed after about 5 minutes, maybe 10 after seeing him). But I don’t blame the gal – she’s only known her father and Caliban the half-witch-half-human combo. She’s nearing 16 and well…we can infer from there (but it’s not mentioned in the play (it’s my commentary)).
Happy he has his his daughter engaged he now reveal to everyone that it he’s alive and well. And oh by the way he still wants his dukedom back. He promises to give up the magic. He releases everyone from his enslavement and they all sail away back to Rome.