Act 1 scene summaries

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EAL Nexus resource
The Tempest Act I
Scene summaries
Age range:
12–14, 15–16
The Tempest
Licence information | This resource is free to use for educational purposes. ©British Council 2015
Source | This resource was originally developed by Val Asprey for Wolverhampton local authority and
has been adapted by EAL Nexus. Images are from Self-Made Hero’s Manga Shakespeare series.
The Tempest Act 1:
Scene summaries
Scene 1
On a ship at sea
The play starts with a violent storm: the tempest. It threatens to kill all
those on board the ship.
The ship is carrying a party of noblemen and courtiers. They are
returning to Italy after a wedding in Africa.
The wedding is that of the daughter of Alonso, King of Naples, to the
Prince of Tunisia. Other members of the party on board the ship
include Ferdinand (Prince of Naples), Sebastian (the King’s brother),
Antonio (Prospero’s brother), Gonzalo (a trusted servant), Stephano
(the King’s butler)and Trinculo (the King’s jester).
The boatswain tries hard to save the ship. As everyone thinks the ship
is going to sink, it starts to drift towards an island.
Key words or phrases with pictures
Alonso, King of Naples
the boatswain
a ship
an island
a storm
a wedding
Key words to translate
Word or phrase
a tempest
a violent storm
©British Council 2015
Word or phrase
a party of noblemen
and courtiers
to return
the King’s daughter
the King’s brother
a trusted servant
the King’s butler
the King’s jester
to return
Scene 2
The island – outside Prospero’s cell
As Prospero and Miranda watch the ship being destroyed by the
storm, Prospero tells her that everyone will be safe. He then tells her
that he was once the Duke of Milan but neglected his duties
because of his love of the study of magic. This gave his brother,
Antonio, the opportunity to conspire with the King of Naples to usurp
him. They escaped death with the help of a trusted servant called
Gonzalo, who provided them with a small boat, some food, clothing
and his magic books.
When Prospero and Miranda arrived on the island 12 years ago, he
learned that a wicked witch called Sycorax was the ruler of the
island. She was from Algeria and worshipped Setabos. She was
already dead when Prospero and Miranda arrived but her
©British Council 2015
deformed son, Caliban, was still on the island with an imprisoned
spirit called Ariel. Prospero freed Ariel and became the master of the
Ariel and Caliban are Prospero’s servants but he treats them
differently. Prospero and Miranda were once kind to Caliban and
taught him to speak and things about nature. Prospero thinks
Caliban is ungrateful and, because Caliban tried to rape Miranda,
he now treats him like a slave.
Caliban hates Prospero because it was his mother’s island, so it
should belong to him. It is because he has learned how to speak
that he can now use language to curse Prospero.
Prospero promises Ariel his freedom if he helps him with his plan to
seek revenge on Antonio and Alonso. The storm is the work of Ariel.
He also magically leads different people onto various parts of the
island, as instructed by Prospero.
Ferdinand, Prince of Naples, thinks his father has drowned and so he
is now the King of Naples. He is magically led by Ariel and meets
Miranda. As Prospero has hoped, Ferdinand and Miranda fall in love
but he decides to treat Ferdinand badly so he can test his love for
Key words or phrases with pictures
a wicked witch called Sycorax
©British Council 2015
Key words to translate
Word or phrase
to destroy
to neglect
to study
his magic
the opportunity
to conspire
to usurp
to escape
a trusted servant
to provide
the ruler of
to worship
her deformed son
to imprison
to teach
©British Council 2015
Word or phrase
to think
a slave
to rape
to hate
to belong
to learn
to curse
to seek revenge
to instruct
to drown
©British Council 2015
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