The Tempest

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Ferdinand Character Analysis

Alonso's son. Ferdinand finds love with Miranda. Their union seals the reconciliation between Alonso of Naples and Prospero of Milan. Ferdinand is kind, courteous, and dutiful. His love for and loyalty to his father (who he thinks is dead for most of the play) is sincere, as is his love for Miranda.

Ferdinand Quotes in The Tempest

The The Tempest quotes below are all either spoken by Ferdinand or refer to Ferdinand. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Loss and Restoration Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Simon & Schuster edition of The Tempest published in 2004.
Act 1, scene 2 Quotes
Full fathom five thy father lies
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes;
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell.
Hark, now I hear them, ding dong bell.
Related Characters: Ariel (speaker), Alonso, Ferdinand
Related Symbols: The Tempest
Page Number: 1.2.476-482
Explanation and Analysis:

Ariel has explained to Prospero that he deliberately ensured that certain people aboard the ship washed up onto shore, and that Alonso's son Ferdinand is separated from his father. In this passage Ariel, who is invisible, sings to Ferdinand as he awakens from a deep sleep, convincing him through his subconscious that his father has drowned in the shipwreck.

This is an example of Prospero acting as a playwright by giving Ariel detailed instructions in order to control the events to come. The words of Ariel's song emphasize the fantastical quality of the play. Not only does Ariel magically persuade Ferdinand to believe his father is dead, the lyrical language describing Alonso's bones turning to coral and eyes turning to pearl heightens the impression that the play is like a folktale or myth. 


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Act 3, scene 1 Quotes
There be some sports are painful, and their labour
Delight in them sets off. Some kinds of baseness
Are nobly undergone; and most poor matters
Point to rich ends. This my mean task would be
As heavy to me as odious, but
The mistress which I serve quickens what's dead,
And makes my labours pleasures.
Related Characters: Ferdinand (speaker), Miranda
Page Number: 3.1.1-7
Explanation and Analysis:

Ferdinand has been enslaved by Prospero, and has walked onstage carrying a heavy log. As he does so, he delivers a speech in which he claims that there are certain forms of work that are "nobly undergone," and that his love for Miranda makes his labor pleasurable. These words prove Ferdinand to be a righteous, worthy character; he happily performs acts of self-sacrifice in order to win Miranda's hand, thus proving his love for her is committed and sincere.

At the same time, Ferdinand's speech highlights how different his situation is from that of Caliban. Unlike Ferdinand, Caliban is imprisoned by Prospero completely against his will, and will not ultimately benefit from his captivity. Caliban's labor is thus meaningless and devoid of any dignity or satisfaction. 

Act 4, scene 1 Quotes
...Be cheerful, sir,
Our revels now are ended; these our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air;
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And like this insubstantial pageant faded
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
Related Characters: Prospero (speaker), Ferdinand
Page Number: 4.1.164-175
Explanation and Analysis:

Prospero has given permission for Ferdinand and Miranda to marry, and ordered Ariel to gather the spirits for a masque – a play, of sorts – to celebrate the couple. However, Prospero interrupts the celebration when he remembers the plot hatched by Stephano, Trinculo, and Caliban to murder him. Ferdinand has expressed concern at Prospero's strange behavior, and Prospero attempts to reassure him by saying that their "revels" have simply come to an end and reminding him "We are such stuff / as dreams are made on; and our little life / is rounded with a sleep." Pointing out life's transience seems like a strange way of reassuring someone, and thus we can interpret Prospero's speech as a more general, introspective stream of thought rather than a direct address to Ferdinand. 

Indeed, many critics choose to read this speech as a sort of message from Shakespeare himself. The Tempest is widely believed to be the last play Shakespeare wrote, and thus in calling the masque to an end, Prospero mirrors Shakespeare's departure from the theatre before his own death. The "insubstantial pageant" that fades and leaves nothing behind can be compared to Shakespeare's work as a playwright, and Shakespeare/Prospero's phrase "our little life" can be interpreted as a gesture of humility, reminding the audience that everyone is mortal and, in the grander scheme of history, insignificant. This point is, of course, somewhat ironic, as Shakespeare's legacy has proven more enduring than almost any other writer in history. 

Act 5, scene 1 Quotes
...O rejoice
Beyond a common joy, and set it down
With gold on lasting pillars: in one voyage
Did Claribel her husband find at Tunis,
And Ferdinand her brother found a wife
Where he himself was lost; Prospero, his dukedom
In a poor isle, and all of us ourselves,
When no man was his own.
Related Characters: Gonzalo (speaker), Prospero, Miranda, Ferdinand
Related Symbols: The Tempest
Page Number: 5.1.247-254
Explanation and Analysis:

All the characters on the island have been summoned together, which has led to many surprises, including the fact that Prospero, Miranda, and Ferdinand, all of whom were presumed dead, are in fact alive, and that Ferdinand and Miranda have fallen in love. In response to the happy scene, Gonzalo calls on everyone to rejoice, observing that while Ferdinand was lost in the storm, he in fact found a wife; meanwhile, Prospero has regained his dukedom "in a poor isle." Gonzalo's statement emphasizes how the upheaval of the storm and magic of the island have ultimately resulted in a restoration of the natural order of things. His final comment that everyone has found themselves "when no man was his own" highlights the importance of compassion, loyalty, and selflessness, traits that Gonzalo has unwaveringly embodied throughout the play. 

Gonzalo's speech emphasizes the way in which the characters have made instrumental use of the island; indeed, Gonzalo describes all the ways in which the storm will restore and improve Italian courtly society without mentioning the impact on the island itself, including its inhabitants. A postcolonial perspective – one that can see the faults in colonialism and the ideas and logic that supported colonial actions – thus allows us to identify a narrow, selfish underside to Gonzalo's triumphant declarations. 

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Ferdinand Character Timeline in The Tempest

The timeline below shows where the character Ferdinand appears in The Tempest. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, scene 2
Loss and Restoration Theme Icon
Power Theme Icon
Magic, Illusion, and Prospero as Playwright Theme Icon
Nearby, the invisible Ariel sings a haunting song to Ferdinand, Alonso's son, who has awakened to find himself alone on the island. The song's lyrics... (full context)
Loss and Restoration Theme Icon
Power Theme Icon
However, to test the depth of Ferdinand's love for Miranda, Prospero speaks sharply to Ferdinand and takes him into captivity as a... (full context)
Act 2, scene 1
Loss and Restoration Theme Icon
Magic, Illusion, and Prospero as Playwright Theme Icon
...find themselves washed up on the island's shores. Alonso is despondent because he can't find Ferdinand, whom he believes to be dead. Gonzalo tries to comfort him by saying that they... (full context)
Loss and Restoration Theme Icon
Power Theme Icon
...Alonso fall asleep. As they sleep, Antonio slyly presents a murder plot to Sebastian. Since Ferdinand is almost definitely dead, Antonio says, Alonso's death would make Sebastian King of Naples. Sebastian... (full context)
Act 3, scene 1
Loss and Restoration Theme Icon
Power Theme Icon
Ferdinand enters, carrying a heavy log. Having been imprisoned and put to work by Prospero, he... (full context)
Power Theme Icon
Magic, Illusion, and Prospero as Playwright Theme Icon
Miranda enters. Prospero follows behind, unseen. Miranda urges Ferdinand not to work so hard and offers to help him. He refuses her help and... (full context)
Act 3, scene 3
Loss and Restoration Theme Icon
...Antonio, and Sebastian enter. They are exhausted after having wandered the island in search of Ferdinand, whom Alonso sadly gives up for dead. Antonio and Sebastian secretly hope that Alonso's sadness... (full context)
Act 4, scene 1
Loss and Restoration Theme Icon
Power Theme Icon
Prospero gives Ferdinand his blessing to marry Miranda, saying that Ferdinand has stood up well to Prospero's tests... (full context)
Loss and Restoration Theme Icon
Power Theme Icon
Magic, Illusion, and Prospero as Playwright Theme Icon kill him. He calls an abrupt end to the festivities and the spirits vanish. Ferdinand is unsettled by Prospero's change in demeanor. Prospero reassures him, saying that an end must... (full context)
Act 5, scene 1
Loss and Restoration Theme Icon
Power Theme Icon
Alonso laments the death of Ferdinand. Prospero responds that he, too, has "lost" a child. Alonso assumes that Miranda has also... (full context)
Loss and Restoration Theme Icon
Power Theme Icon
...island. In the morning, he says, they will all return to Naples, where Miranda and Ferdinand will be married. From there, Prospero says, he will return to Milan "where every third... (full context)