Why is act 1 called the exposition? Give examples of characters whose backstories we learn in act 1. Include Prospero, Miranda, Ariel, and Caliban.

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In literature (and in theatre, in this case), "exposition" refers to the first part of the work that introduces the primary characters, the setting, and, in some cases, the main conflict. Why is act 1 of Shakespeare's The Tempest considered the exposition? Let us go over how this section of the play serves that role: how does it introduce setting? What is the conflict? Who are the main characters? What are their backstories?

Setting

The action opens on a boat that is at sea in stormy weather. Onboard is a royal party, including Alonso, the king of Naples, Sebastian, the king's brother, Ferdinand, the king's son, and Gonzalo, the king's councilor, among others.

Conflict

In the very first scene of the play during the storm at sea, there is discord between Gonzalo and the boatswain. The boatswain wants the passengers to get out of his way and stay below deck so that he and the sailors can try to save the ship (and the lives of the people on it).

Boatswain

Do you not hear him? You mar our labour:...

(The entire section contains 806 words.)

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