Describe the ‘phantom banquet’. What purpose is it intended to serve?

Alonso was exhausted by his wanderings in search of Ferdinand, his missing son. At last, he gave up all search and hope of finding him. Antonio and Sebastian whispered and resolved to execute their plot again that very night when they expected the watch to be loose due to the exhaustion of the party. Suddenly, solemn and strange music was heard. Then, several strange shapes entered, bringing in a banquet. They danced about with gentle actions of greeting and then inviting the King and his royal party to eat. After this, the shapes departed.

They all speculated about the strange phenomenon. At last, they decided that they should eat. But when they sat down to the banquet, Ariel entered in the shape of a harpy and snatched away the banquet. Then Ariel addressed Sebastian, Antonio and Alonso. He reminded them of the wrong done by them to Prospero and told them that the elements now enact punishment for this act. He warned Alonso that the loss of his son was a part of the punishment and added that unless he repented in time, further punishments will follow.

The banquet scene is meant to awaken the sense of guilt and remorse by supernatural elements in the hearts of Sebastian, Antonio and Alonso. Alonso seemed to be most shaken by this supernatural warning. Antonio and Sebastian got distracted with terror. All the three disperse in a wild and desperate mood.

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