The Tempest

by: William Shakespeare

Act I, scene i

Gonzalo, for instance, jokes that the ship is safe because the uppity Boatswain was surely born to be hanged, not drowned in a storm: “I have great comfort from this fellow: methinks he hath no drowning mark upon him; his complexion is perfect gallows” (I.i.2527). For his part, the Boatswain observes that social hierarchies are flimsy and unimportant in the face of nature’s wrath. “What cares these roarers,” he asks, referring to the booming thunder, “for the name of king?” (I.i.1516). The irony here, of course, is that, unbeknownst to the occupants of the ship, and to the audience, the storm is not natural at all, but is in fact a product of another kind power: Prospero’s magic.


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