Today we’re going to take a look at a cracking Miranda monologue from Act 1, Scene 2 of The Tempest by William Shakespeare. This is a great monologue for the actor wanting to work on relationship, affecting their scene partner and chasing objective. Let’s get into it
Meet Miranda and Prospero. Prospero used to be a big wig in Milan, Italy before he was driven out by the nobility there, including his brother Antonio. As soon as Miranda was born, in order to escape, Prospero’s friend Gonzalo gave him a bunch of sick magic books and stuck them on a boat, never to be seen again. Together they found themselves on an abandoned island. Prospero studied magic spells, made friends and enemies and raised Miranda over a span of years.
Now we find ourselves in the present day and Prospero has begun exacting his plan for revenge against those who wronged him in Milan. The King of Millan and his court, including Gonzalo, have just been to Africa for his daughter’s wedding. As they return to Milan, Prospero conjures up a great Tempest in order to fake a shipwreck and bring them to his island. Seeing the hubbub from the island, Miranda strikes up a protest…
If by your art , my dearest father, you have
Put the wild waters in this roar, allay them.
The sky, it seems, would pour down stinking pitch
But that the sea, mounting to th’ welkin’s cheek,
Dashes the fire out. O, I have suffered
With those that I saw suffer – a brave vessel
(Who had no doubt some noble creature in her)
Dashed all to pieces. O, the cry did knock
Against my very heart! Poor souls, they perished.
Had I been any god of power, I would
Have sunk the sea within the earth or ere
It should the good ship so have swallowed and
The fraughting souls within her.
Welkin’s Cheek: Heavens Face
If you have used your magic powers, my dear Father, to make the sea so dangerous, please use them to calm it down.
The sky is so black that it looks like tar would rain down, but the waves are going so high, all the way to heaven, that they could cool the boiling tar down.
Oh I feel the pain of those that I see suffering!
A great ship, (no doubt with loving souls on board), wrecked and destroyed!
Oh their cries hurt my heart! Those poor people have all died!
If I were a God with any power at all I would have made the sea go beneath the earth before it could swallow that ship and all the souls aboard.
Notes on Performance
This is a very straightforward monologue that requires a great deal of empathy and emotional access. The given circumstances are clear. Miranda see’s a ship with creatures on board being sunk in the distance and puts two and two together. She begs her father, the only person she knows who could do this, to make it stop. Keep the circumstances clear and you’re golden.
Next think about the type of person Miranda is based on this alone. Miranda has never seen another human being other than her father and doesn’t know anything about the world outside of her island. This is our first contact with Miranda and it shows us just how loving, empathetic and innocent she is. So keep that in mind when looking at character.
Lastly, the best thing you can do to bring this alive is to work from a place of want and need. Miranda feels deeply for all living creatures and because of that she begs Prospero to stop. Keep that in mind and chase that objective.