Read The Tempest‘s ‘You Are Three Men Of Sin’ monologue below with a modern English translation and analysis, plus performance.
Spoken by Ariel, Act 3 Scene 3
You are three men of sin, whom Destiny,
That hath to instrument this lower world
And what is in’t, the never-surfeited sea
Hath caused to belch up you; and on this island
Where man doth not inhabit; you ‘mongst men
Being most unfit to live. I have made you mad;
And even with such-like valour men hang and drown
Their proper selves.
[ALONSO, SEBASTIAN &c. draw their swords]
You fools! I and my fellows
Are ministers of Fate: the elements,
Of whom your swords are temper’d, may as well
Wound the loud winds, or with bemock’d-at stabs
Kill the still-closing waters, as diminish
One dowle that’s in my plume: my fellow-ministers
Are like invulnerable. If you could hurt,
Your swords are now too massy for your strengths
And will not be uplifted. But remember—
For that’s my business to you—that you three
From Milan did supplant good Prospero;
Exposed unto the sea, which hath requit it,
Him and his innocent child: for which foul deed
The powers, delaying, not forgetting, have
Incensed the seas and shores, yea, all the creatures,
Against your peace. Thee of thy son, Alonso,
They have bereft; and do pronounce by me:
Lingering perdition, worse than any death
Can be at once, shall step by step attend
You and your ways; whose wraths to guard you from—
Which here, in this most desolate isle, else falls
Upon your heads—is nothing but heart-sorrow
And a clear life ensuing.
‘You Are Three Men Of Sin’ Monologue Translation
You are three sinful men. Destiny – who rules this world and everything in it – has made the never-surfeited sea belch you up on this uninhabited island – you who, above all men, are unfit to be alive. I have made you mad, and with the madness of self deception such as you have, men finally hang and drown themselves. You fools! I and my companions are the agents of Fate. We are the elements from which your swords are made. You may as well try and wound the loud winds, or kill the sea with fruitless stabs, which are enclosed by the swirling water, as try to injure one feather in my plume. My fellow-ministers are as invulnerable as I am. Even if you could hurt us your swords are now too heavy for you to hold. But remember, and this is why I’ve come to you – that you three expelled good Prospero from Milan and exposed him and his innocent child to the sea, which has now repaid you for it. For your foul deed the powers have caused the seas and shores, yes, every creature, to turn against you. They have taken your son away from you, Alonso, and they pronounce, through me, a lingering suffering for you – far worse than a quick death. It will dog your steps wherever you go. Nothing but repentance and a clean life from now on will protect you from the wrath of these powers, which have finally fallen on your head, here on this desolate island.
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