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Prospero, sorcerer and rightful Duke of Milan, along with his daughter Miranda, has lived on an island for many years since his position was usurped by his brother Antonio. Then, as Antonio’s ship passes near the island one day, Prospero conjures up a terrible storm…
A short and juicy play that encapsulates many of the dramatic elements that delight admirers of the Shakespearean oeuvre: betrayal, good spirits, evil relations, loyal friends, dramatic plot twists, terrible weather and, of course, love. The play is entertaining and introduces timeless themes such as redemption, the nature of the soul, magic and the supernatural, and art’s imitation of life (and vice versa). The story itself shows us the essence of the traditional Italian commedia dell’arte.
69 pages, with a reading time of ~2.25 hours (17,305 words), and first published in 1611. This DRM-Free edition published by epubBooks, 2016.
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On a ship at sea: a tempestuous noise
of thunder and lightning heard.
[Enter a Master and a Boatswain]
Here, master: what cheer?
Good, speak to the mariners: fall to’t, yarely, or we run ourselves aground: bestir, bestir.
Heigh, my hearts! cheerly, cheerly, my hearts! yare, yare! Take in the topsail. Tend to the master’s whistle. Blow, till thou burst thy wind, if room enough!
[Enter ALONSO, SEBASTIAN, ANTONIO, FERDINAND, GONZALO, and others]
Good boatswain, have care. Where’s the master? Play the men.
I pray now, keep below.
Where is the master, boatswain?
Do you not hear him? You mar our labour: keep your cabins: you do assist the storm.
Nay, good, be patient.
When the sea is. Hence! What cares these roarers for the name of king? To cabin: silence! trouble us not.
Good, yet remember whom thou hast aboard.
None that I more love than myself. 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, and make yourself ready in your cabin for the mischance of the hour, if it so hap. Cheerly, good hearts! Out of our way, I say.
I have great comfort from this fellow: methinks he hath no drowning mark upon him; his complexion is perfect gallows. Stand fast, good Fate, to his hanging: make the rope of his destiny our cable, for our own doth little advantage. If he be not born to be hanged, our case is miserable.
Down with the topmast! yare! lower, lower! Bring her to try with main-course.
A cry within
A plague upon this howling! they are louder than the weather or our office.
Re-enter SEBASTIAN, ANTONIO, and GONZALO
Yet again! what do you here? Shall we give o’er and drown? Have you a mind to sink?
A pox o’ your throat, you bawling, blasphemous, incharitable dog!
Work you then.
Hang, cur! hang, you whoreson, insolent noisemaker! We are less afraid to be drowned than thou art.
I’ll warrant him for drowning; though the ship were no stronger than a nutshell and as leaky as an unstanched wench.
Lay her a-hold, a-hold! set her two courses off to sea again; lay her off.
[Enter Mariners wet]
All lost! to prayers, to prayers! all lost!
What, must our mouths be cold?
The king and prince at prayers! let’s assist them, For our case is as theirs.
I’m out of patience.
We are merely cheated of our lives by drunkards: This wide-chapp’d rascal–would thou mightst lie drowning The washing of ten tides!
He’ll be hang’d yet, Though every drop of water swear against it And gape at widest to glut him.
A confused noise within: ‘Mercy on us!’– ‘We split, we split!’–‘Farewell, my wife and children!’– ‘Farewell, brother!’–‘We split, we split, we split!’
Let’s all sink with the king.
Let’s take leave of him.
[Exeunt ANTONIO and SEBASTIAN]
Now would I give a thousand furlongs of sea for an acre of barren ground, long heath, brown furze, any thing. The wills above be done! but I would fain die a dry death.
The island. Before PROSPERO’S cell.
[Enter PROSPERO and MIRANDA]
If by your art, my dearest father, you have Put the wild waters in this roar, allay them. The sky, it seems, would pour down stinking pitch, But that the sea, mounting to the welkin’s cheek, Dashes the fire out. O, I have suffered With those that I saw suffer: a brave vessel, Who had, no doubt, some noble creature in her, Dash’d all to pieces. O, the cry did knock Against my very heart. Poor souls, they perish’d. Had I been any god of power, I would Have sunk the sea within the earth or ere It should the good ship so have swallow’d and The fraughting souls within her.
Be collected: No more amazement: tell your piteous heart There’s no harm done.
O, woe the day!
No harm. I have done nothing but in care of thee, Of thee, my dear one, thee, my daughter, who Art ignorant of what thou art, nought knowing Of whence I am, nor that I am more better Than Prospero, master of a full poor cell, And thy no greater father.