The Tempest

by

William Shakespeare

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The Tempest: Tone 1 key example

Read our modern English translation.
Definition of Tone
The tone of a piece of writing is its general character or attitude, which might be cheerful or depressive, sarcastic or sincere, comical or mournful, praising or critical, and so on. For instance... read full definition
The tone of a piece of writing is its general character or attitude, which might be cheerful or depressive, sarcastic or sincere, comical or mournful, praising or critical... read full definition
The tone of a piece of writing is its general character or attitude, which might be cheerful or depressive, sarcastic or sincere, comical... read full definition
Act 1, scene 2
Explanation and Analysis:

The tone of The Tempest undergoes an enormous change from beginning to end. At first, the tone is threatening. A big storm plunges the characters into chaos. Miranda begs her father to stop the storm in Act 1, Scene 2 by saying:

Put the wild waters in this roar, allay them.
The sky, it seems, would pour down stinking pitch,
But that the sea, mounting to the welkin's cheek,
Dashes the fire out. 

Words like "wild" and "stinking" and "dash'd" communicate the violence of the storm. But as the characters begin to resolve their conflicts in the third and fourth acts, the tone becomes hopeful. This hopeful ending exemplifies Elizabethan comedy; the characters believe throughout the story that things might end poorly, but the audience begins to figure out that everything will resolve itself. In the beginning, Prospero creates scenes of chaos and confusion, and newcomers see the island as a strange place full of mysterious (and possibly harmful) spirits. During the first two acts, the audience might not know what Shakespeare intended to convey by beginning a comedy with such a seemingly hopeless array of betrayals and violence. But Miranda maintains her sense of enchantment in her "brave new world" and becomes a role model for both the characters and audience as she exemplifies both empathy and wonder.