Research On Shakespeare's Era

Ariel?s Song


While reading Shakespeare’s The Tempest , you will have the opportunity once or twice to look carefully at the poetry in the play. An obvious place to begin is act 1, scene 2, lines 440–467. Ariel has been asked to lead Ferdinand to Prospero and Miranda.

Read the lines carefully, and write your answers to the following questions.

  • What is the effect of the first part of Ariel’s song (beginning with “Come unto these yellow sands”) on Ferdinand?
  • In the song’s “burthen” (burden), or refrain, dogs bark and a rooster crows. How might these sounds affect a listener?
  • After the part beginning “Full fathom five thy father lies,” how does Ferdinand respond?
  • Much of this play has magic spells and invisible characters. How do you suppose these “special effects” were done during Shakespeare’s time? Draw a sketch of Ariel leading Ferdinand, and account for the fact that Ferdinand can’t see Ariel.

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