It is the scene of a strom at sea, and the vessel, containing Alonso, King of Naples, Sebastian his brother, Ferdinand, his son, Gonzalo, Antonio. the usurping Duke of Milan, are in distress. The mariners are all busy carrying out the orders f the boatswain. To prevent the vessel from running aground and mg wrecked, they first lower the topsail; then they strike the top ost and set the mainsail and at last they set the mainsatl and he foresail too, but all without effect. The boatswain is twice seriously annoyed by the rush of passengers on deck, and order
them back into their cabins. But all his efforts to save the ship prove in vain.
Critical Comments :
The Opening scene is full of bustle and stir, and must have particularly appealed to the Elizabethan audience, so much interested in naval matters. It introduces some of the important characters and if it does not hint at supernatural agency which brings about the storm and the shipwreck. It certainly makes the reader eager and expectant for an explanation of all that happens now. It is significant that the shipwreck takes place off an unknown island.
To sum up :
(1) Vividness of the scene–a realistic description of the terror and confusion of a tropical storm.
(2) The naval operations illustrating Shakespeare’s accuracy of knowledge in matters of seamanship.
(3) The opening scene justifies the title The Tempest.