The Tempest

I found the first scene in the Tempest quite reflective of several of the themes that appear later on in he play. The main theme I noticed was the master and slave relationship between the characters. Aboard the ship in the middle of the tempest, the boatswain is tasked with (essentially) a captain’s duties which result in him ordering around the noble passengers on the ship.  The reaction of the nobles is outrage that a commoner order them around, threatening him and refusing to comply. Where many normally would apologize for such transgressions, the boatswain doesn’t care and continues to insist to nobles proceed below deck. However, the nobles reappear after grudgingly obeying the boatswain’s orders, still extremely irritated at having been spoken to in such a manner by a commoner. I saw this as the introduction of the motif of the very prominent master-servant motif. Seen later with Prospero and Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo and their later relationship with Caliban and again with Prospero and Ariel. Like Robert Crawford said in lecture, this motif (especially when examining Caliban) can be seen as reflective of colonialism. I found the first scene very interesting in that it immediately introduced such a key motif in the play. This phenomenon seems fairly common in Shakespeare’s works, as many of the primary themes are introduced in the first couple scenes (King Lear, Othello, Hamlet…etc)

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  1. I agree with you on that the first scene introduces the master-slave relationship right away. It also shows how it can be reversed. The boatswain becomes the ‘master’ of the ship ina sense, and later, Trinculo and Stephano also become ‘lords’ to Caliban, when really, they’re servants too.

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