The Tempest Sample

This page features a sample of The Tempest, edited for children aged twelve and above by Books for Learning.

‘Miranda,’ said Prospero, ‘tell me what you are looking at yonder.’

‘Oh, father,’ said Miranda, in a strange surprise, ‘surely that is a spirit. Lord! how it looks about! Believe me, sir, it is a beautiful creature. Is it not a spirit?’

‘No, girl,’ answered her father; ‘it eats, and sleeps, and has senses such as we have. This young man you see was in the ship. He is somewhat altered by grief, or you might call him a handsome person. He has lost his companions, and is wandering about to find them.’

Miranda, who thought all men had grave1 faces and grey beards like her father, was delighted with the appearance of this beautiful young prince; and Ferdinand, seeing such a lovely lady in this desert2 place, and from the strange sounds he had heard, expecting nothing but wonders, thought he was upon an enchanted island, and that Miranda was the goddess of the place, and as such he began to address her.

She timidly3 answered, she was no goddess, but a simple maid4 and was going to give him an account of5 herself, when Prospero interrupted her. He was well pleased to find they admired each other, for he plainly perceived they had (as we say) fallen in love at first sight: but to try Ferdinand’s constancy6, he resolved to throw some difficulties in their way: therefore, advancing forward, he addressed the prince with a stern air7, telling him, he came to the island as a spy, to take it from him who was the lord of it.

‘Follow me,’ said he. ‘I will tie your neck and feet together. You shall drink sea-water; shell-fish, withered roots, and husks of acorns shall be your food.’

  1. grave—stern or serious.
  2. desert—deserted or lonely.
  3. timidly—shyly.
  4. maid—short for maiden, or young woman.
  5. give him an account of—tell him about.
  6. to try Ferdinand’s constancy—to test how faithful and reliable Ferdinand was.
  7. stern air—a grim or serious manner.