How does Shakepeare establish the situation at the start of the Tempest

Essay by Jk5559High School, 12th gradeB, November 2014

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Jessica Kelly

How does Shakespeare establish the situation and setting at the start of the Tempest[Act One Scene One]? Within Shakespeare's plays, storms are used as a prelude to a development of one aspect of life to another; storms are found for a simila use in Macbeth, Twelfth Night and also King Lear. Most members of Shakespeare's audience would have been aware of the storms significance as it was featured not only other writers works but also within the bible. It could be argued that Shakespeare's use of the storm in the tempest provides the audience with a metaphor in that the past trouble in these character's life's are nothing compared to the tempest created on the island. The plays opening scene shows the audience a ship at sea, in the centre of a raging storm. Shakespeare's stage directions call for "a tempestuous noise of thunder and lightning", Shakespeare's descriptive, yet formal stage directions suggest that the opening scene must be dramatically effective.

As there was no build-up to the storm, the audience experience a sudden burst of action. Loud music and shouting from the characters on board heighten the audience's senses; they are now much more aware of the danger these characters are in. Moreover, due to the numerous exits and entrances on stage a sense of chaos is created, establishing to the audience the situation at hand. At one point a Mariner appears onstage wet and shouts "All Lost! To prayers, to prayers" All lost" before executing the stage. The Mariner's repetition of the words "to prayers" shows his despair in the situation, they reinforce the worry of death - even God is not answering their prayers. Using religious references would establish how dangerous their position was at the point in the play; Shakespeare's audiences were more...