The Tempest: Synopsis

A ship bearing the king of Naples, his son Ferdinand, the duke of Milan, and their retinues is caught in a storm. On a nearby island, Prospero and his daughter Miranda watch as the ship is wrecked on the rocky coast. Miranda knows that her father has magic powers and begs him to use them to save the ship. He tells her that it is he who has created the storm and explains to her how they came to live on the island. He was once the duke of Milan, who was deposed by his brother Antonio with the help of the king of Naples. He was set adrift in a small boat with his baby daughter with the intention that both would drown. All of the perpetrators of this crime are on board the presently sinking ship.

Prospero is a powerful magician, and has freed Ariel and other spirits of the island from enslavement to a witch. He as in turn enslaved the witch’s monstrous son Caliban as punishment for attempting to rape his daughter.

At Prospero’s bidding, Ariel saves the young prince Ferdinand from the shipwreck and introduces him to Miranda. The two fall in love.

The rest of the royals find themselves on another part of the island, where the king of Naples fears that his son is dead and Ariel uncovers a plot against his life by his brother, Sebastian.

Caliban has been found by two of the king’s servants, who get him drunk and together they plot to kill Prospero. Ariel warns Prospero and leads the would-be assassins astray.

Ariel brings the bewildered royals to Prospero’s cell, where they are confined in a magic circle. Duke Antonio and the king of Naples confess their sins against him. He reveals to them Miranda and Ferdinand playing together. Father and son are joyously reunited. Prospero frees Ariel before renouncing his magic powers. Everyone prepares to return to Italy, where Prospero will be restored to his dukedom.

From Shakespeare Genealogies by Vanessa James