The Tempest opens with a storm at sea and a shipwreck, a dramatic and ambitious beginning for a seventeenth-century play. While the scene is light on stage directions, Shakespeare does call for "a tempestuous noise of thunder and lightning" to set the mood. Characters run on and off the stage, shouting orders and arguing with one another, lending the scene a sense of chaos and confusion. They have lost control of their ship, much as the characters will lose control of what happens to them once they are marooned on Prospero's island.
The dialogue between the ship's crew and the noble passengers onboard is rich in characterization and conflict. Antonio and Gonzalo insist that the ship's crew remember who is on board (that is, the king and the prince) when the boatswain implores them to quit bothering the crew as they try to figure out how best to survive the elements. The nobles criticize the manner of the crew while the crew desperately tries to keep the ship afloat:
ANTONIO. Where is the...
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