Holly White

English Literature – The Tempest Act One, Scene One

This scene introduces the play, and is set during on a ship during a ferocious storm. The passengers are the royal party of the King of Naples, and include the King Alonso, his brother Sebastian, the Prince Ferdinand, and the King's counsellors, Gonzalo and Antonio.

The storm, which begins the play, isn't real, but has been conjured by Prospero, a magus, to lure the passengers to his island. This storm is also representation of the metaphorical storm which involves the tumultuous emotions of the play's characters as it continues. The island where Prospero lives is used by Shakespeare as it is completely isolated, and so any action which takes place on it is completely removed from outside influences and complications.

The crew of the ship are busily trying to combat the storm, working together, representing the "ship of state", and emphasising the idea that the subjects need to work together, but also the storm represents the buffeting of the ship of state, and society, by its own actions.

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When the royal party appear and demand to take over the running of the ship and begin ordering the mariners around, Shakespeare introduces the idea of the nature of authority, questioning whether the King should have absolute power all the time, or give command to someone far more experienced than he, showing that the play will be a test of true characters.

The boatswains commands reflect the urgency of the situation in their short, exclamatory sentences

"My Hearts! Yare! Yare! Take in the topsail!"

The boatswain also talks in prose, to show that he is a less important character than ...

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