In The Tempest Shakespeare delivers a play with many enduring quotes from his enchanted island. As with so many of his plays Shakespeare brings the myriad characters to life with memorable dialogue and some fantastic quotes, many in the form of quipy one-liners of eternal truths – such as “good wombs have borne bad sons”. Read our selection of the very best and most well known The Tempest quotes below, along with speaker, act and scene.

“You taught me language, and my profit on’t
Is I know how to curse. The red plague rid you
For learning me your language! “

Caliban (Act 1, Scene 2)

“Hell is empty and all the devils are here.”

Ariel (Act 1, Scene 2)

“Your tale, sir, would cure deafness.”

Caliban (Act 1, Scene 2)

“Good wombs have borne bad sons.”

Miranda (Act 1, Scene 2)

“You taught me language, and my profit on’t / Is, I know how to curse”

Caliban (Act 1, Scene 2)

“Me, poor man, my library
Was dukedom large enough.”

Prospero (Act 1, Scene 2)

“Awake, dear heart, awake. Thou hast slept well. Awake.”

Prospero (Act 1, Scene 2)

“Thou shalt be free
As mountain winds: but then exactly do
All points of my command.”

Prospero (Act 1, Scene 2)

“What’s past is prologue.”

Antonio (Act 2, Scene 1)

“Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.”

Trinculo (Act 2, Scene 1)

“Watch out he’s winding the watch of his wit, by and by it will strike.”

Sebastian (Act 2, Scene 1)

“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.”

Ferdinand (Act 3, Scene 1)

“[I weep] at mine unworthiness, that dare not offer
What I desire to give, and much less take
What I shall die to want. But this is trifling,
And all the more it seeks to hide itself
The bigger bulk it shows. Hence, bashful cunning,
And prompt me, plain and holy innocence.
I am your wife, if you will marry me.
If not, I’ll die your maid. To be your fellow
You may deny me, but I’ll be your servant
Whether you will or no”

Miranda (Act 3, Scene 1)

“I would not wish Any companion in the world but you, Nor can imagination form a shape, Besides yourself, to like of.”

Miranda (Act 3, Scene 1)

“Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises,
Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep
Will make me sleep again; and then in dreaming
The clouds methought would open and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked
I cried to dream again.”

Caliban (Act 3, Scene 2)

“Thought is free.”

Stefano (Act 3, Scene 2)

“Now I will believe that there are unicorns…”

Sebastian (Act 3, Scene 3)

“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.”

Prospero (Act 4, Scene 1)

“O, wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in’t!”

Miranda (Act 5, Scene 1)

“This thing of darkness I
Acknowledge mine.”

Prospero (Act 5, Scene 1)

“Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes and groves,
And ye that on the sands with printless foot
Do chase the ebbing Neptune and do fly him
When he comes back; you demi-puppets that
By moonshine do the green sour ringlets make,
Whereof the ewe not bites, and you whose pastime
Is to make midnight mushrooms, that rejoice
To hear the solemn curfew; by whose aid,
Weak masters though ye be, I have bedimm’d
The noontide sun, call’d forth the mutinous winds,
And ‘twixt the green sea and the azured vault
Set roaring war: to the dread rattling thunder
Have I given fire and rifted Jove’s stout oak
With his own bolt; the strong-based promontory
Have I made shake and by the spurs pluck’d up
The pine and cedar: graves at my command
Have waked their sleepers, oped, and let ‘em forth
By my so potent art. But this rough magic
I here abjure, and, when I have required
Some heavenly music, which even now I do,
To work mine end upon their senses that
This airy charm is for, I’ll break my staff,
Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,
And deeper than did ever plummet sound
I’ll drown my book.”

Prospero (Act 5, Scene 1)

“Let us not burthen our remembrance with
A heaviness that’s gone.”

Prospero (Act 5, Scene 1)
Are any of your favourite The Tempest quotes missing from the above list? Let us know in the comments below.

tempest quote on pinterest graphic, featuring


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