The two funny characters, Stephano and Trinculo, in Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, fight with each other when Ariel was speaking behind Trinculo when Caliban and Stephano were talking. I want to know what was the relation between Stephano and Trinculo? Was Stephano more powerful just in matter of bodily strength or was there something else?

When Caliban was lying on the ground to save himself from the torment, Trinculo hid himself with same cloth considering Caliban dead. But Trinculo recognized Stephano’s voice when he came and spoke to Caliban. How Trinculo and Stephano know each other?


Stephano is the butler to King Alonso: Alonso recognises him as such in Act V Scene 1 of the play:

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 camest thou in this pickle?

Since Alonso also recognises Trinculo immediately by name, it's reasonable to suppose that Trinculo was also in the service of King Alonso's court. The dramatis personae lists Trinculo only as "a Jester" and Stephano likewise as "a drunken Butler", but since they know each other and Alonso knows both of them, it's likely that they were both servants of Alonso. Wikipedia's character list describes them as such, although (as usual with Wikipedia) the provenance of this claim is unclear.

Traditionally, a butler would be the highest-ranking servant in a household, while a jester would be much lower down the pecking order. So, as you ask "Was Stephano more powerful just in matter of bodily strength or was there something else?", the answer is that Stephano would be expected to outrank Trinculo as his senior among the servants.

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