How does Shakespeare create drama and tension in Act 1, Scene 1?  

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Shakespeare had to simulate the effect of a ship in a storm with very little in the way of props. The Mariners would be wearing seafaring-type costumes and, of course, the King and his entourage would be wearing the kind of clothing they would wear at court. There would be a strong contrast between the two kinds of characters. The boatswain would be shouting all his lines at everybody regardless of whether Mariners or noblemen. The tone of his voice would suggest the seriousness of the situation, especially because he is obviously spent much of his life at sea and knows more about it than anybody else. This desperate shouting would be important in creating the impression that he has to make himself heard above the howling storm. There would be offstage sound effects. The stage directions at the beginning of Art 1, Scene 1 read simply:

On a ship at sea. A tempestuous noise of thunder and lightning heard.

Shakespeare himself would probably order the sound effects devices and tell the stage hands what he wanted them to do. Thunder can be represented with a big drum. Lightning might be represented by crashing cymbals or other metal against metal. Shakespeare uses similar sound effects in King Lear when he has the mad King shouting in the storm and at the storm in Act 3, Scene 2 of that play.

Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
Till you have drenched our steeples, drowned the cocks!
You sulphurous and thought-executing fires,
Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,
Smite flat the thick rotundity o' the world!
Crack nature's moulds, all germains spill at once,
That make ingrateful man!

No doubt Shakespeare would instruct the stage hands to make noise at the ends of lines so that all the words could be heard by the entire audience. For example after, "Singe my...

(The entire section contains 642 words.)

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