On a ship at sea with a tempestuous noise of thunder and lightning, Master and Boatswain fret over the chances of surviving the storm and give orders to the crew. Enter Alonso, Sebastian, Antonio, Ferdinand, Gonzalo and others. As they enter, Boatswain tells them all to stay in their cabins, and with some argument they agree. Master and Boatswain fret that all is lost, and tell the others in the scene the boat is breaking apart, and all is lost. The crewmen begin prayers, others in the cast join the King to pray.
On the island, before Prospero’s cell, Miranda tells him she has seen the boat sinking off the shore. Prospero tells her no one is harmed, and explains he used his magic to conjure the storm , but no one was hurt. Prospero further tells his daughter he was once the Duke of Milan, but his brother Antonio usurped his position after Prospero had Antonio manage his state. Prospero had spent all his time in study during this time and his brother Antonio made a deal with the King of Naples, Alonso, to do away with Prospero. Antonio gather men together with the King of Naples, and kidnapped Prospero and Miranda when she was still a baby, some twelve years prior to this scene. They were put on a ship which had no sail or rigging, and Prospero and the baby Miranda were set to the sea. The boat had some provisions on it, and with luck the two landed upon an Island. Gonzalo, who was appointed master of this plan also made sure Prospero and Miranda had rich garments, linens, stuffs and necessaries. Gonzalo, knowing Prospero’s love of books furnished him with the most prized books from the Duke’s library. Miranda asks why he has raised the storm and how the ship carrying the men who usurped his position. Prospero says only that it was a fortunate chance they came close to the island, and so raised the storm, and Miranda sleeps. Ariel enters, greeting Prospero. Ariel explains he has done as Prospero has asked and created the appearance of a tempest to make sure the men who Prospero wanted to arrived on the island jumped off the ship, but keeping the mariners safely aboard. Ariel further scattered the men about the island, landing the king’s son Ferdinand alone. Ariel explains there was an entire fleet, who have returned home now, but the ship which Prospero’s enemies were on, is safely harbored in a hidden nook with all sailors safely aboard and sleeping. Ariel asks for his freedom from Prospero, who reminds him of the witch, Sycorax who imprisoned him in a split pine tree for twelve years, after she was marooned on the island by sailors. Prospero reminds Ariel of the agony he suffered there, and warns him that if he does not obey the commands Prospero has for him, he will do the same for twelve more years. Prospero also mentions Sycorax’s son Caliban who is deformed. Ariel exits, and under command of Prospero is to be invisible to all but Prospero.
Prospero awakens his daughter, and calls for Caliban. Prospero recounts the tale of how he found Caliban, taught him to speak, and what various things were called, then how Caliban tried to force himself on Miranda. Now Caliban is Prospero’s slave. Caliban is ordered to get more firewood for Prospero. Ariel comes back, singing a song to lead Ferdinand back to Prospero and Miranda. As Ferdinand enters he and Miranda see one another, and see to instantly fall in love. Prospero whispers to Ariel that his plan is working, then proceeds to give Ferdinand a harsh time with threats and insults calling Ferdinand a spy and warns his daughter that he is an ugly man. Eventually Prospero allows his daughter to win him over, commanding Ferdinand to come with him to work as a servant.