The Tempest Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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What happens in Act I of "The Tempest" by William Shakespeare?

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Act I of William Shakespeare's "The Tempest" begins with a storm at sea.  The Captain of the ship shouts out orders to try to keep the ship from running aground.  The Boatswain immediately begins to set things in motion to turn the ship out to sea.  Riding out the storm at sea will be much safer for the ship and all its passengers.  As the Bostwain is fighting to save the ship the Royal passengers come topside and begin to give orders and ask questions.  The Botswain, who is pretty rough around the edges, rudely replies to the passengers and tells them to go back below to their cabins and stay there. As they think they are all going to die everyone goes below to pray.

In scene 2 we are located in Prospero’s cave where he and his daughter watch the ship sinking.  Prospero's daughter begs him to save the people and he goes into a long story about how he is doing all this for her.  He tells her his history and that he is really the true Duke of Milan.  He then puts her under a spell and calls for Ariel.  He thanks the sprit Ariel for a good job and finds out that the party has landed on the island as he requested.  Ariel asks for his freedom now that he has helped Prospero, but Prospero isn't ready to let him go.  He gives Ariel more orders and then awakens his daughter.  They all go to the beach and Miranda sees Ferdinand whom she first believes to be a ghost.  They finally meet and because of Ariel's magic they immediately fall in love. 

This is a very brief summary.  A more detailed summary can be found at the links listed below.  Thanks for your question.

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shiiina | Student


  • Alonso, the king of Naples is travelling from Tunis to Naples, after the wedding of his daughter, Claribel to the king of Tunis. The ship is caught in a terrible storm.
  • The shipmaster/ captain of the ship encourages the Boatswain to save the ship.
  • The latter gives orders to the mariners/sailors to handle the ship.
  • However, he is interrupted by the King and his men who come on the deck.
  • He orders them to return to their cabins because they are disturbing him.
  • Gonzalo showing trust in the Boatswain’s capabilities, tells him to be more patient but the latter ignores him.
  • Alonso returns to his cabin but Antonio, Sebastian and Gonzalo stay on the deck which irritates the Boatswain.
  • He warns them that their interference can only cause trouble
  • Antonio and Sebastian curse him for his insolence and speak rudely to him.
  • The mariners inform the Boatswain that the ship is sinking
  • Gonzalo suggests joining the king who is praying

The passengers have resigned themselves to dying