50 pages 1 hour read

William Shakespeare

The Tempest

Fiction | Play | Adult | Published in 1611

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Important Quotes

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“You are a counsellor; if you can command these elements to silence, and work the peace of the present, we will not hand a rope more; use your authority: if you cannot, give thanks you have lived so long, and make yourself ready in your cabin for the mischance of the hour, if it so hap. Cheerly, good hearts! Out of our way, I say.” 


(Act I, Scene 1, Lines 20-25)

During a terrible storm, the ship’s boatswain—the man in charge of the sailors—finds himself beset by anxious passengers. To Gonzalo, the boatswain suggests that if he can command nature, the sailors will step aside, but otherwise he should go below and leave the professionals to do the work of saving the ship. The boatswain turns out to be prophetic, as the sprite Ariel controls the storm.

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“I have great comfort from this fellow: methinks he hath no drowning mark upon him; his complexion is perfect gallows. Stand fast, good Fate, to his hanging: make the rope of his destiny our cable, for our own doth little advantage. If he be not born to be hanged, our case is miserable.”


(Act I, Scene 1, Lines 25-30)

Gonzalo is dressed down by the harried boatswain for interrupting him during a crisis. He humorously takes the sailor’s insolence as a sign that the man will be hanged one day and therefore won’t drown, a good omen during this storm.

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“I have done nothing but in care of thee,

Of thee, my dear one, thee, my daughter, who

Art ignorant of what thou art, nought knowing

Of whence I am, nor that I am more better

Than Prospero, master of a full poor cell,

And thy no greater father.” 


(Act I, Scene 2, Lines 16-21)

Prospero tells his daughter that they are more than she knows, and that their lowly life on an island hides their true destiny. From a character perspective, Prospero remains driven by a need to reclaim what he lost. This is less rooted in his concern for material comforts and more rooted in his need to validate his high opinion of himself, in his own eyes and in the eyes of his daughter.

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