Internet Shakespeare Editions


The "unities" in The Tempest


The plot of The Tempest is very structured and controlled compared to some of Shakespeare's other plays (for example A Winter's Tale). All of the action takes place in one day. As a result, Prospero must tell Miranda (and the audience) what has happened previously, in a rather long series of speeches, where he seems rather afraid that Miranda (and the audience) might fall asleep. In addition, the action all takes place within the one setting of the island (with perhaps the exception of 1.1 which takes place in the sea close to the island). The action is less unified, however, as the sub-plot of the drunken sailors and Caliban contributes only briefly to the main plot. In this respect, Shakespeare retains the characteristics of the drama of his time.