The Tempest

The Performance of Ritual

“I am your wife, if you will marry me”

Miranda, Act 3, Scene 1

Ferdinand and Miranda’s declarations of love in Act 3 Scene 1 can seem old-fashioned, but that is because it is not so much a love scene, written to sound natural, as the performance of an ancient and beautiful ritual. A wedding is one of the few rituals from long ago that we still perform in the present day. It is important to be aware that, at the time this was written, a declaration between a man and woman was all that was needed for a legally binding marriage, so Ferdinand and Miranda are actually, technically speaking, marrying at the end of this scene. A copy of the scene is below.

Staging The Scene:

  1. Work in pairs.
  2. Begin by highlighting any difficult or archaic words. Look them up and write down the meaning, so you are clear about them.
  3. Read the lines out loud several times, discussing with your partner what is the most effective tempo, volume, mood, and whether the characters are close, far apart, touching, moving.
  4. Put it on its feet. Does anything change? Where are you looking when you speak or listen?
  5. Show the class.
  6. Discuss where the scenes were similar and were different.

What was effective in performance? Which works better, the simpler or the more elaborate ideas? What problems do you encounter? What messages about love were communicated?


It is not enough, in this play, for Ferdinand to decide he likes Miranda – he has to earn the right to her love. Write about the ways that people today try to earn this right. Is it better or worse than carrying logs?

The Tempest (Act 3, Scene 1)

Alas, now; pray you,
Work not so hard; I would the lightning had
Burnt up those logs that you are enjoin’d to pile.
Pray, set it down and rest you; when this burns,
‘Twill weep for having wearied you.

O most dear mistress,
The sun will set before I shall discharge
What I must strive to do.

If you’ll sit down,
I’ll bear your logs the while; pray give me that;
I’ll carry it to the pile.

No, precious creature;
I had rather crack my sinews, break my back,
Than you should such dishonour undergo,
While I sit lazy by.

It would become me
As well as it does you; and I should do it
With much more ease; for my good will is to it,
And yours it is against.
You look wearily.

No, noble mistress; ‘tis fresh morning with me
When you are by at night. I do beseech you,
Chiefly that I might set it in my prayers,
What is your name?

Miranda - O my father,
I have broke your hest to say so!

Admir’d Miranda!
What’s dearest to the world! Full many a lady
I have ey’d with best regard; for several virtues
Have I lik’d several women, never any
With so full soul, but some defect in her
Did quarrel with the noblest grace she ow’d,
And put it to the foil; but you, O you,
So perfect and so peerless, are created
Of every creature’s best!

Act 3, Scene 1