Discovered, drunk, and in a pickle (5.1.277-289) #StormTossed

ALONSO         Is not this Stephano, my drunken butler?

SEBASTIAN    He is drunk now. Where had he wine?

ALONSO         And Trinculo is reeling ripe! Where should they

Find this grand liquor that hath gilded ’em?

How cam’st thou in this pickle?

TRINCULO      I have been in such a pickle since I saw you last, that I fear me will never out of my bones. I shall not fear fly-blowing.

SEBASTIAN    Why, how now, Stephano?

STEPHANO    O touch me not; I am not Stephano, but a cramp!

PROSPERO     You’d be king o’the isle, sirrah?

STEPHANO    I should have been a sore one then. (5.1.277-289)

A little transitional moment, delaying any further exchange between Prospero and Caliban. Alonso knows his servants by name, and greets them with some rueful affection, even; drunkenness is apparently Stephano’s habitual state. Sebastian’s question suggests that he too could do with a drink: this is a genuine request for information (Where had he wine?) as much as an expression of surprise that there should be any wine found on the island. Trinculo is so drunk he can barely stand, reeling ripe, but Alonso’s rebuke is more amused than angry: how cam’st thou in this pickle? Trinculo is sorrowful drunk: I have been in such a pickle since I saw you last, I’m pretty much pickled all the way through. Thoroughly preserved, long-lasting, like pickled or salted meat; no chance of flies laying their eggs on me. (Trinculo and Stephano’s proper place is back in the kitchen, below stairs, thinking in terms of food and drink, not ruling over islands.) Stephano is in an altogether sorrier state, responding even to Sebastian’s solicitations (which admittedly may have an element of self-interest: Sebastian really needs that drink) with touch me not. I am not Stephano, but a cramp—and this is actually quite nasty; he is so plagued with cramps (like pinches, another of Ariel and Prospero’s signatures) that he has become one big cramp. The reason for his specially harsh treatment (Trinculo does not seem similarly afflicted) is now apparent: You’d be king o’the isle? asks Prospero. Stephano is being punished for theft, for hubris, for getting above his station, and he can only agree: I should have been a sore one then.



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