The plan is finalised: Sebastian is set to kill Gonzalo and Antonio to kill Alonso. They have no fear of public opinion realising the fickle nature of loyalty, and man's nature that ultimately sides with the successful. Antonio says,
"They'll take suggestion as a cat laps milk;
Prospero, however, as arch manipulator and benign controller prevents the deaths of the King and the old man and Ariel sings in Gonzalo's ear, rousing him to suspicion.
The scene opens on Caliban's vindictive curses at his master as he is forced to carry wood and he complains of the punitive tortures he is forced to undergo and his beleaguered state at the hands of Prospero's magic,
"...sometimes am I
He mistakes Trinculo, Alonso's court jester, for one of Prospero's spirits and hides. Trinculo mistakes Caliban's cloak for some strange outcrop on the island and crawls under it for shelter "misery acquaints a man with strange bed fellows". A drunken Stephano then enters and mistakes them for a four-legged monster. It is a scene of light comedy and farce based on mistaken perceptions, false appearances, illusions and misleading appearances.
But we must also be aware of the darker elements and power plays present amid the slapstick humour. Stephano's first instinct at the sight of the creature is to possess it. He exemplifies imperial assumptions of rights to ownership and superiority, commodifying life for his own advancement and self interest:
"If I can recover him, and keep him tame, and get to Naples with him, he's a present for any emperor that ever trod on neat's-leather".
The physical drunkenness signifies the spiritually poisoned state of these characters, and the inverted world they wish to create is suggested by the 'monster's' acceptance of a drunken butler as a god. The introduction of liquor onto the isle leads to inebriation of the "poor credulous monster" and spurs him to misplace his adoration:
"That's a brave god, and bears celestial liquor:
This reaction is tellingly similar to that of the dethroned King Lear who, in a state of baseness and primitivism, calls a madman a "philosopher". Caliban therefore replaces one form of slavery for another, in the mistaken belief of "Freedom, hey-day! Hey-day, freedom!" - his believed freedom appears miserly as it entails foot licking.
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