50 pages 1 hour read

William Shakespeare

The Tempest

Fiction | Play | Adult | Published in 1611

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Act I

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Act I, Scene 1 Summary: “On a ship at sea: a tempestuous noise of thunder and lightning heard.”

On a storm-tossed sea, the ship’s boatswain works frantically, ordering his men to reposition sails and do what else they can to save the ship from crashing against a nearby shore. King Alonso of Naples is aboard; he and several other passengers—including the king’s brother Sebastian, the counselor Gonzalo, and Antonio the usurping duke of Milan—come up from below. Fearing for their safety, they interrupt the sailors at their work.

The boatswain speaks curtly to them, telling them to go back below decks and leave the sailors to save the ship. The royal party grumbles at the boatswain’s arrogance, but they retreat. Gonzalo declares that the boatswain will someday be hanged for insolence, and therefore he cannot drown, which is good news during the storm. Below decks, the passengers scream and cry in terror—“‘Mercy on us!’—‘We split, we split!’—‘Farewell my wife and children!’—‘Farewell, brother!’” (1.1.57-58)

Act I, Scene 2 Summary: “The island. Before Prospero’s cell.”

Inland, in a “cell” or cave, Prospero, who is a sorcerer and the overthrown duke of Milan, receives his daughter Miranda, who asks him to use his powers to stop the raging storm.

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