King Alonso’s ship, sailing back to Naples following his daughter’s wedding in Tunis, is caught in a tempest. The mariners struggle to keep control of the vessel, and the Boatswain scolds the royals (Alonso, Gonzalo, Antonio, and Sebastian) for not keeping to their cabins. Even in the tumult of the storm, Gonzalo reminds the Boatswain who he is speaking to (a king) and that he cannot command those above him. The Boatswain dismisses this class system, a orders the royals out of his way. But the ship seems to be doomed, with Gonzalo wishing for a “dry death” at the end of the scene.
During the tempest, young Miranda and her father Prospero have been watching the ship from the shore of their island. Miranda sympathizes with those aboard, and begs her father - if he is the one who is causing this suffering - to help the ship. Prospero assures her that all aboard are safe, and will now tell Miranda who they really are and why they are on the island. Prospero’s brother, Antonio, usurped the