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Act 1, Scene 1 Notes from The Tempest

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The Tempest Act 1, Scene 1

The play opens on the deck of a ship that is sailing from the north African city of Carthage to the Italian city of Naples. The stage can be set or divided in many ways. The actors are usually center stage in this section. Others enter from the same wing. A clap of thunder sounds, light flashes, the dialogue begins between the Master of the boat and the Boatswain. The two characters run around trying to secure the rigging of the ship in the storm. Alonso, the King of Naples, steps from the wing to ask what is going on. He is accompanied by his counselor, Gonzalo and Antonio, the reigning Duke of Milan. The royal passengers ask the Boatswain about the status of the storm, and he orders them to get below the deck. Gonzalo warns him to be wary of the stature of the men on board, but the Boatswain is indignant:.

"BOATSWAIN None that I love more than myself. You are a councillor; if you can command these elements to silence and work the peace of the presencet, we will not hand a rope more - use your authority. If you cannot, give thanks you have lived so long, and make yourself ready in your cabin for the mischance of the hours, if it so hap" Act 1, Scene 1, lines 20 - 25.

Gonzalo exits, remarking that the Boatswain is more fit for dying by hanging than drowning, as he continues to order the sailors. He returns with Antonio and Sebastian, Alonso's brother. The Boatswain demands to know why the three men have come back on deck and Sebastian insults him : "A pox o' your throat, you bawling, blasphemous, incharitable dog!" Act 1, Scene 1, line 40 Chaos continues as the storm ravages the deck of the ship. The mariners enter the stage and lament. Antonio asks if they are "merely cheated of our lives by drunkards" Act 1, Scene 1, line 55 and the Boatswain exits. A clamor of shouts and cries is heard from within the boat and the royal passengers exit to die with the king. Gonzalo ends the act, wishing that he would not have to die at sea:

"Now would I give a thousand furlongs of sea for an acre of barren ground, -long heath, broomwn, furze, anything. The wills above be done, but I would fain die a dry death" Act 1, Scene 1, lines 65 - 68.

The curtains closefall and the stage is reset for the island scene.

Topic Tracking: Authority 1

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