Ferdinand enters Prospero’s cell bearing a log who dislikes the physical labor, but is spurred on by his thoughts of Miranda who cries when she sees Ferdinand working. Miranda enters, with Prospero at a distance unseen. Miranda bids Ferdinand to rest, believing her father at study.
Miranda asks him to stop his labor for a bit, which Ferdinand declines, Miranda asks if she can haul logs for a while, which again Ferdinand declines, explaining that he could not sit while she worked. Ferdinand finally asks Miranda’s name, she gives it. The two exchange compliments of one another’s loveliness and proclaim both love and a desire to marry and then they exit separately.
Prospero remarks at his happiness for the occasion, and remarks he has yet more business before supper time and exits as well.
On another part of the island Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo are together drinking. After they are all seemingly quite drunk, Caliban tells the other two men what an evil person Prospero is. Ariel enters the scene invisibly and makes a few remarks which Stephano blames on Trinculo, who he eventually hits. Caliban then makes a plan to kill Prospero while he sleeps in the afternoon, and for his new master Stephano to take Miranda as his bride. Ariel upon hearing this plan, decides to tell Prospero.
As Stephano begins to sing to celebrate his plan, Caliban hears someone playing on tabour and pipe which is actually Ariel. Trinculo remarks on it and Stephano asks if it is a man or a devil, and Caliban quickly explains it away as a sound of the island. The sound leads the three away, and they follow it as they exit the scene.
Alonso, Sebastian, Antonio, Gonzalo, Adrian Francisco and others are in another part of the island, searching still for Ferdinand. Gonzalo remarks to Alonso he has become tired, Alonso remarks upon his weariness as well. Hearing this Antonio remarks to Sebastian they should use this tiredness to kill Gonzalo and Alonso that night when they sleep as strange and solemn music arises.
Prospero enters the scene floating and invisible with several strange shapes who bring a banquet. The shapes dance about the food with gentle actions of salutation and invite the group to eat and they depart. Prospero stays to watch.
The group is amazed and excited, and although Alonso is skeptical, Gonzalo bids him eat, as what they perceive as generous islanders who seem like monsters must have left the food for them. Alonso begins to eat and instructs the others to eat as well.
Ariel enters with thunder and lightning, appears as a harpy, and carries off the banquet then proclaims them unfit to live, calling them the worst of men who, if they had any valor, would hang themselves. Upon hearing this Alonso, Sebastian and the others draw their swords.
Ariel tells them their swords will be of no use against him, even if they had the strength to wield them. Ariels explains this is the will of the world itself that Alonso should lose his son and they should be marooned for usurping Prospero’s position as Duke and casting him into the sea with his daughter on a small boat. With that Ariel vanishes with thunder and the shapes enter again and dance with mocks and mows carrying off the table.
Prospero explains his plan is working exactly and thanks Ariel for his excellence and exits to join Ferdinand and Miranda.
Alonso proclaims his grief over losing his son over what he had done to Prospero and exits. Sebastian and Antonio also leave. Gonzalo instructs the others to follow them, preventing any rash action and Adrian asks that Gonzalo follows as the rest leave.