Synopsis of Act 1 Scene 1 of The Tempest by William Shakespeare

Overview of The Tempest Act 1 Scene 1

Summary from The Tempest Act 1 Scene 1

The introductory scene of The Tempest', though short, yet plays a crucial role in the play. It is a sort of exposition, in which some important characters are introduced. It starts with a fierce storm, strong enough to wreck the ship in which some royal personages are travelling. The crew strains to control the ship and the passengers are in a state of panic. The boatswain gives instructions to work hard and also admonishes those who interfere with unnecessary questions. Only Gonzalo keeps a calm demeanour, sometimes even making some sarcastic comments on the boatswain who seems to be arrogant towards the royal travellers. The scene ends with the desperate cries of the mariners shouting, only prayers can save them. The others also cry. "We split, we split" indicating the imminent destruction of the ship.

Critical Analysis of The Tempest Act 1 Scene 1

The scene justifies the title of the play, 'The Tempest'. It gives a dramatic beginning with the howling storm, cries of the passengers and frantic efforts to save the ship. A sense of danger is indicated, which makes the audience sit on the edges of their seats, wondering about the events that are going to follow. Dramatic relief is given by Gonzalo's witty remarks. The way the boatswain treats the royal entourage makes us smile because to him the priority is to save the ship rather than pleasing the king and his companions.


boatswain: a petty officer on a merchant ship:
tempestuous: characterized by violent emotions or behaviour;
mar: spoil;
hap: take place, happen;
blasphemous: grossly irreverent toward what is held to be sacred, impious;
uncharitable: unkind, mean;
gallows: an instrument from which a person is executed by hanging:
glut: swallow;
gape: wide open;
furlongs: one-eighth of a mile or 220 yards. 
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