The Tempest : In what way is the opening scene of the play important ?

The opening scene of the play has an immediate appeal. It is the scene of a storm at sea. There is a ship carrying Alonso, king Naples, Sebastian, his brother, Ferdinand, his son, Gonzalo, his devoted courier, Antonio, the present Duke of Milan and the mariners. As a result of a sudden storm in the sea the lives of the persons on board are in real danger. All the mariners are busy in saving the ship. The boatswain is issuing orders.

The scene is important as it graphically describes the scene by the hustle and bustle, terror and confusion all around.  The accurate terminology of seamanship is skillfully used. The importance of the scene lies in its direct relationship to the title of the play – The Tempest. It makes the readers curious to know what will be the fate of the ship.

Another important feature of the play is the it introduces some important characters in the play. Alonso, Sebastian and Antonio, as we come to know later, are responsible for ousting lawful Duke of Milan, Prospero, twelve years ago, and for hatching a conspiracy to kill Prospero and his little daughter Miranda by drowning in the sea. However they do not succeed in their efforts.

The conversation between the boatswain and some royal passengers reveals that they royalty is as arrogant and irresponsible as before. The tone of authority angers the boatswain who asks the passengers to go to their cabins. Antonio and Sebastian abuse him. Even Gonzalo feels him to fit to be hanged for rude language.