• The Enchanted Island Synopsis

The Story 

A Who's Who chart can be found here.

ACT I Prospero, protagonist of Shakespeare’s The Tempest and deposed Duke of Milan, has long been stranded on a remote island with his daughter, Miranda, surrounded by books, potions, and instruments of magic. He has banished the island’s former ruler—and his former lover—the sorceress Sycorax, taking her servant, the sprite Ariel, as his own and enslaving her son Caliban.

When Prospero learns that a ship bearing the King of Naples and his son, Prince Ferdinand, is passing near the island, he devises a plan in order to marry Miranda to Ferdinand and end his own exile: he will shipwreck the royals on the island. He commands Ariel to perform a spell and conjure up a storm, promising him his freedom in return.

At this point, the plot of The Enchanted Island diverges from that of The Tempest. Caliban overhears Prospero’s plan and rushes to tell his mother, Sycorax (who is mentioned but never appears in the Shakespeare play). Sensing her rival’s weakness, Sycorax tells her son to steal a vial of dragon’s blood from Prospero’s cell. She will use the blood to restore her powers, enabling her and Caliban to reclaim the island. Caliban steals the vial, substituting worthless lizard’s blood. He vows to take Miranda as his queen.

Inadvertently using the lizard’s blood, Ariel casts his shipwreck spell on the wrong ship. Two couples—Helena and Demetrius, Hermia and Lysander—who are honeymooning following their adventures in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, are cast ashore separately.

Believing the shipwreck accomplished, Prospero commands Ariel to cast a spell on Ferdinand that will make him and Miranda fall in love immediately. Ariel mistakes the stranded Demetrius for Ferdinand and dutifully casts the spell. Demetrius forgets his new bride, Helena, and when Ariel leads him to Miranda the two fall in love—much to Prospero’s fury.

Lysander, finding himself alone on shore, believes his bride, Hermia, lost at sea, and curses the sea god Neptune. Ariel, seeking to correct his earlier mix-up, now mistakes Lysander for Ferdinand and casts the spell again. This time, Miranda and Lysander fall in love, which infuriates Demetrius.

Meanwhile, Helena washes up on the other side of the island, where Sycorax decides to give her to Caliban as his queen, instead of her enemy’s daughter, Miranda. Using the stolen vial of dragon’s blood, Sycorax casts a spell to make Helena fall in love with Caliban. The spell works: Helena forgets Demetrius and falls for Caliban, much to his delight. Sycorax hopes her spell is strong enough to last.

Ariel, having twice cast spells on the wrong man, concludes that the true Ferdinand must still be out at sea. He calls upon Neptune for help. The god, having heard Lysander’s curses and now disturbed by Ariel, is angry. Still, Ariel begs him to find Ferdinand and Neptune agrees to scour the seas.

Prospero observes the chaos he has wrought—lovers mismatched, Ariel frantic, Caliban running wild, and no Ferdinand in sight. He despairs of achieving his objectives.

ACT II Hermia awakens alone on the island, only to realize that her nightmare was true: she and Lysander have been indeed been separated by the tempest. She soon discovers him doting on another woman—Miranda—with no memory of his new wife.

Sycorax gazes wistfully upon Helena and Caliban, certain that revenge on Prospero is near. She will soon regain control of the island for her son. But when Demetrius wanders by, searching for Miranda, Helena catches a glimpse of him. Her memory and emotions are stirred, and Caliban realizes his romantic idyll is at an end.

Hermia comes upon Helena, now out of love with Caliban but aware that Demetrius, like Lysander, is oblivious of his true bride. Hermia and Helena bemoan the fickleness of men.

Helena takes off after Demetrius, confirming Caliban’s fears. He rushes to Sycorax for consolation. His mother has no help to offer but the sad truth that loving hearts can always be broken.

Caliban steals one of Prospero’s magic books. He conjures a vision of himself ruling the world, surrounded by loving subjects. But his fantasy turns to cruel domination. The imaginary creatures turn on him. Prospero intervenes and ends the vivid dream.

Meanwhile, Neptune has found Ferdinand’s ship. As it races toward the island. Ferdinand dreams of an unknown love.

Ariel sets to putting matters right. He leads the five mismatched lovers through a forest maze until they fall asleep side by side. He ensures that the others wake before Miranda, and the honeymooning couples are reunited. All five approach the shore as Ferdinand and the king arrive and bear witness as Ferdinand reads the pardon ending Prospero’s exile. When Ferdinand sees Miranda, he instantly falls in love with her—no spell required.

Sycorax appears, declaring her revolt against Prospero. Though he rebuffs her, Neptune takes the sorceress’s part. Prospero acknowledges his offenses against Sycorax and returns the island to her and Caliban. As Neptune extols the virtues of mercy, Sycorax grants Prospero forgiveness. All join to celebrate a new day of joy, peace, and love.