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THE TEMPEST, ACT-1 SCENE-1
SUMMARY, ANALYSIS & QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
ISC CLASS 11 AND 12 ENGLISH LITERATURE
By William Shakespeare
This document contains the following –
1. Notes (all scene-wise)
2. Analysis of Important Scenes
3. List of Probable Questions (Long-6,8 and Short-3,4)
4. Word Meaning of crucial words and sentences
This act commences the plot of the play where the weather condition justifies the title “The Tempest” of the play. Shakespeare with his masterful art of drama and presentation promulgated a scene filled with thunder, lightning and chaos which is an innuendo to the forthcoming tempest in the life of the characters. We are introduced to the distinguished personalities – Alonso, the King of Naples, Sebastian, Alonso’s brother; Antonio, the usurping Duke of Milan; Ferdinand- son of Alonso and the good old counsellor – Gonzalo and other minor characters in the ship.
This scene presents a bleak picture of the future where the gigantic furious storm leaves no pinch of hope for the survival of the people onboard. The play has the stage directions- “On board a ship at sea: a storm, with thunder and lightning”. It is intriguing to note that the directions that the author projects here were in the 18th century made with artificial techniques. For the sound of thunder, drums were used.
The dominance of nature over man is a prominent idea here. When the Boatswain comments to Gonzalo, this aspect is brought out-
- “You are a counsellor; – if you can command these elements to silence, and work the peace of the present, we will not hand a rope more; use your authority: if you cannot, give thanks you have lived so long…”
- “What cares these roarers for the name of king!” While scene 1 introduces the sub-characters, the next scene provides an insight into Prospero’s life- the protagonist and his daughter Miranda.
List of Questions
1. Name the important delegates onboard when the disastrous tempest took place. Briefly describe the opening stage directions of Shakespeare’s play The Tempest.
The play commences on a tumultuous note with the foreboding ‘tempest’. There were important personalities onboard during the wreckage. They include– Alonso, the King of Naples; Sebastian, the brother of Alonso; Antonio, the usurping Duke of Milan; Ferdinand, the son of Alonso; Gonzalo, an honest, responsible old counsellor and others like the boatswain and the workers associated with the ship’s movement. The opening scene serves as an element of character introduction and takes a dig at the plot formation. The storm “tempest” which originated is a symbol of death, chaos and violence, justifying the title of the play.
Here, the opening stage directions- “On board a ship at sea: a storm, with thunder and lightning” portrays the careful mastery of words, using minimalistic description, yet highlighting the nature and cause. Such in-depth articulation attests to Shakespeare’s simple yet eloquent style of writing. We are first introduced to the Master of the boat and the Boatswain, both trying their best to save the ship and then come the other people on the deck to gauge the circumstances.What did Gonzalo, the counsellor say to the Boatswain when the latter commented- “What cares these roarers for the name of king!”?
2. What directions did the Boatswain pronounce to the boatmen and other delegates?
The boatswain appears to be a very diligent and efficient person in his profession. At a time when there is no hope left for survival, he cheers up the men and gives them directions for safe adobe. He encourages the Mariners saying-
“Heigh, my hearts! cheerly, cheerly, my hearts!
Yare, yare! Take in the topsail! …”
He directs them to listen to the ‘master’s whistle’ and carefully manoeuvres the ship.
However, it is to be noted that he appears disgusted with the callous attitude of the personnel who coke to the deck during the storm. When Alonso and Antonio come to enquire and encourage them, the Boatswain reverts saying- “I pray now, keep below… You mar our labor: keep your cabins: you do assist the storm. He without fear spills the truth that nature is above all the manly powers and that “What cares these roarers for the name of king!”. Also, despite the comments by the people he kept on directing the mariners till the end showing his professional attitude.
3. What did Gonzalo, the counsellor say to the Boatswain when the latter commented- “What cares these roarers for the name of king!”?
When the Boatswain commented the following words, Gonzalo keeps his composure yet and makes him understand to keep in mind the fact that the boat is not any ordinary boat, but has many important delegates on board and to reach a safer place for their sake. Gonzalo comments “Good yet remember whom thought hast abroad”. While both are right at their practicality of things, the boatswain’s upfront behaviour seemed to bother Gonzalo and others who wish for getting him hanged when they reach the shore.
The boatswain positions himself here as an opportunistic fellow, he carelessly states his superiority in saving them, while forgetting the fact that this attitude could hand his fate to the latter when they reach the shore.
4 Marks/ 6Marks
1. “It is said that weather often reverberates the mind of the onlooker”. Throw light on the statement concerning the opening scene of ‘The Tempest’ and how it was carried throughout the scene.
The opening scene of the play commemorates on a fearful note, where the roaring sound of the tempest fills the atmosphere with gloom. “It is said that weather often reverberates the mind of the onlooker” stands true in this case as when the gruesome tempest approached the ship, the passengers onboard witnessed chaos in their minds laced with fear and hopelessness.
The constant cheering by the Boatswain makes him an able leader, who gradually tries his best to clear the ship’s way through the turmoil. Boatswain commands –
“Heigh, my hearts! Cheerly, cheerly, my hearts! Yare! Yare!
Take in the topsail. – Tend to th’ master’s whistle. – Blow,
Till thou burst thy wind if room enough!”
Also, it is interesting to note how in these testing times, the mood of the people changes into a nagging attitude, where they still hold on to the materialistic powers of the monarchy. The tempest brings forth their true nature. Throughout the scene, different characters try to establish their control and order on the Boatswain. Gonzalo even goes to the extent of predicting his hanging on dry land, which eventually leads them to be saved from the shipwreck. Gonzalo iterates- “I have great comfort from this fellow. Methinks he hath no drowning mark upon him…if he is not born to be hanged, our case is miserable.” The magnanimous nature of the tempest also is a symbol of the constant courage and presence which was witnessed in the character of the Boatswain.
Nature, thus amalgamates poignantly with the atmosphere around, percolating its feeling into the personals onboard, and satiating the author’s motive of recreation of the state of familiarity.
1. Antonio: Hang, cur, hang! you insolent noise-maker, we are afraid to be drowned than thou art.
Gonzalo: I’ll warrant him for drowning; though the ship was no strong than a nutshell.
Boatswain: Lay her a-hold, a-hold! Set her two courses! Off to sea again; lay her off!
Re-enter Mariners wet
Mariners: All lost! to prayers, to prayers! all lost!
i. Name the ‘insolent noise-maker. What made Antonio impatient and complain?
ii. Give a contrast of the characters between Gonzalo and Sebastian.
iii. Briefly describe the position of Mariners in Act I, Scene 1 of The Tempest.
iv. What does the comment- “I’ll warrant him for drowning; though the ship was no stronger than a nutshell” mean?
Ans– i. The above-quoted passage is from Act I, Scene 1 of the play The Tempest by William Shakespeare. Here, the ‘insolent noise-maker is referred to as the Boatswain. This outpour of emotions by Antonio is not sudden but by the behaviour received to him on Boatswain’s behalf. The latter negates all the superiority of humankind over nature and gives Antonio and others the taste of reality. However, to their usual response, they grow angry and ask the Boatswain to remember who is on board.
ii. Gonzalo and Sebastian provide the readers with an interesting contrast. While Gonzalo represents the calm and rational old counsellor, Sebastian on the other hand is a restless soul, frequently incurring slang. Their handling of the situation and respective behaviours with the Boatswain set their characters apart. When the Boatswain talks rudely, Gonzalo repeatedly tried to calm the situation. For instance, when Boatswain commands rudely- “Keep your cabins. You do assist the storms…You are a councilor. If you can command these elements to silence and work the peace of the present, we will not hand a rope more.” To this Gonzalo very patiently asks him to be calm. While the former curses and continues his impudence, the latter very rationally predicts doom for him and bets their chance of survival on him.
THE TEMPEST, ACT-1 SCENE-1 – MCQ QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS – ISC CLASS 11 AND 12 ENGLISH
Thereafter, Sebastian is restless and is easily out of patience. He hurls slang at Boatswain- “A pox o’ your throat, you bawling, blasphemous, in charitable dog!”. Without searching for a cause, Sebastian stays still in his ego, making the situation worse.
This contrast in characters makes the play raw and helps in the natural flow and development of the plot.
iii. Mariners in the play The Tempest serves as the representation of the grassroots levels of society. They are the working class who listen to the commands of their masters and help in the movement of the ship. They also portray the reaction of the other passengers when they pray for their safe sail to the coast- “All lost! To prayers, to prayers, all lost!”
iv. The above-quoted lines are said by Gonzalo, the old councillor. He predicts the punishment for the Boatswain for his impudent behaviour. Gonzalo warrants the latter from drowning so that it ensures their safe sail to land and hanging of the latter. The ship is no stronger than a nutshell, yet by the instincts of Gonzalo, the Boatswain is entitled to his destiny to be punished by hanging.
2. Boatswain: What, must our mouths be cold?
Gonzalo: The king and prince at prayers. Let’s assist them, for our case is as theirs.
Sebastian: I’m out of patience.
Antonio: We are merely cheated of our lives by drunkards. This wide-chopped rascal- would thou mightst lie drowning the washing of ten tides!…
Gonzalo: Now would I give a thousand furlongs of sea for an acre of barren ground: long heath, brown furze, anything. The wills above be done, but I would fain die a dry death.
i. In the lines given above, what does the expression – “What, must our mouths be cold?” refer to?
ii. What does Gonzalo’s last comment mean? Decipher the essence behind it.
iii. ‘The entire situation culminates into destruction’. Trace the path which qualifies this statement.
iv. How does Shakespeare create an atmosphere of suspense in his play The Tempest? Elaborate with reference to Act I, Scene 1.
Ans— 2.i. In the above-quoted lines, Antonio after listening to the news of their drowning and no way left to be saved from the grueling Tempest, remarks in fright of their ‘mouths be cold’. Here, the expression- “mouths be cold” refer to death which will be caused by drowning. In spite of all the possible measures tried by the Master and the Boatswain to save the ship from shipwreck, it meets it destiny, leaving all in topsy- turvy.
ii. Gonzalo at the end of the scene resorts to prayer and belief in the power of Almighty. He is ready to stake all for witnessing a bit of land, even though it might be covered in bushes. He is ready to give ‘thousand furlongs of sea’ for the touch of barren ground. ‘Furlongs’ is the unit of measurement where 1 furlong equals 220 yards. Betting land over Sea signifies the importance of life for the men, who in spite if being nobles and important, are ready to lose all and submit to the divine power of nature to remain alive.
THE TEMPEST, ACT-1 SCENE-1 – MCQ QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS – ISC CLASS 11 AND 12 ENGLISH
iii. ‘The entire situation culminated in destruction’ is aptly stated as when the play opens, the thing which dominates the atmosphere is the impending Tempest. The light and thunder overpower the materialistic power of the throne and tries its every means to overthrow them to drown. Even the prayers could not help the ship from shipwreck Although, Gonzalo and others are able to reach the land, the Master, Boatswain, and other mariners drown in the process. The destruction caused by the Tempest gives the play its title too. Where on the one hand, this fierce storm caused destruction, it also helped in the advancement of the play, where to reach ground the delegates drifted towards the land, to the place of Prospero.
Iv. Shakespeare’s articulation of details and action helped the play attain a smooth flow of plot and all-round development of character. His unique characterization has given each an individual a separate space for growing. The dramatic elements like storm, cries of people heighten the suspense, foreshadowing the impending turn of events.
Word Meanings and Important Quotes
Tempestuous– it is usually characterized by strong and turbulent situation or show of emotion.
Topsail– referred to the upper sail of the ship which is used to control the wind direction and flow.
Wide-chopped rascal- referred to a bunch of drunken, incompetent sailors.
- Boatswain– “What cares these roarers for the name of king?”
- Boatswain– “None that I more love than myself. You are a councilor. If you can command these elements to silence and work the peace of the present, we will not hand a rope more.”
- Gonzalo– “Make the rope of his destiny our cable, for our own doth little advantage.”
- Sebastian– “A pox o’ your throat, you bawling, blasphemous, in charitable dog!”
- Gonzalo– “I’ll warrant him for drowning though the ship were no stronger than a nutshell and as leaky as an unstanched wench.”
- Mariners– “All lost! To prayers, to prayers, all lost!”
- Gonzalo– “Now would I give a thousand furlongs of sea for an acre of barren ground: long heath, brown furze, anything.”