Summary and Analysis of Act I
Act I, Scene I
On a stormy sea, mariners try to keep a ship, with its passengersAlonso, the King of Naples, his brothers Sebastian and Antonio, his son Ferdinand, and his advisor, Gonzalofrom running aground on the rocks. The boatswain reckons that even kings cannot "command these elements" of wind and water, and tells Antonio and Sebastian that they can either "keep below" or help the sailors. The noblemen take offense at being ordered around by a mere mariner, and both show a mean-tempered streak in this encounter. Suddenly, a panic seizes the mariners, and they declare "all lost," surrendering themselves, and their ship, to the vicious storm; Antonio and Sebastian also fear the worst, and go below to say goodbye to their brother Alonso.
Act I, Scene 2
Prospero and his daughter Miranda are the focus of this scene, and from Miranda's first speech it becomes clear that the storm in the previous scene was somehow caused and controlled by Prospero. Miranda is concerned that good men were lost in the wreck, but Prospero assures her that it all went to plan, and no men were harmed. Prospero explains his motivations for causing the storm by telling her his history with the nobles aboard the ship; he reveals to Miranda that Antonio is his brother, and that he was once the rightful Duke of Milan, a position Antonio now holds. Antonio usurped Prospero's estate and wealth while Prospero became increasingly "rapt in secret studies" and oblivious to his brother's machinations; and in order to take Prospero's title as well, Antonio arranged to have his brother Prospero and Prospero's daughter Miranda killed secretly. But Prospero is widely known to be a good man, so those charged with his death decide not to kill him, Instead, Prospero and Miranda were set adrift on the open sea in a decayed vessel, and were able to survive off the supplies that the honest councilor Gonzalo arranged for them to have; thus, they landed on the island...