How does Shakespeare create dramatic tension in Act One, Scene One of The Tempest?

Expert Answers info

Michelle Nietfeld, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)

bookM.A. from Southern New Hampshire University


calendarEducator since 2017

write176 answers

starTop subjects are Literature and History

This sense of tension is primarily created through noise. The stage instructions explain how a "tempestuous noise of thunder and lightning is heard" (act 1, scene 1).

The boatswain commands the mariners,

"Tend to th' Master's whistle."

The boatswain also mentions the wind, another noise present. The noises of wind, lightning, shouting, and whistling create most of the tension in the opening scene. A cry is heard, and the boatswain shouts in response,

"A plague upon this howling! They are louder than the weather or our office."

The loud shouts of the mariners and the noise of the storm create most of the tension in the scene. At the end of the scene, several shouts (at once) are described in the stage directions as "a confused noise within":

"Mercy on us!"—"We split, we split!"—"Farewell, my wife and children!"—"Farewell, brother!"— "We split, we split, we split!"

Again, this passage shows a confusion of noise that adds to the tension. Additionally, the repetition of words and phrases,...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 587 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

englishprof1564 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2018

write135 answers

starTop subjects are Literature and History

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Gwen Lesch eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2010

write807 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

renelane eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2006

write871 answers

starTop subjects are Literature and Math

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial