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Examination Questions on The Tempest

Question: Is Shakespeare's description of this storm technically accurate?

Answer: Yes, undoubtedly. On Shakespeare's description of the management of the ship in the storm the second Lord Mulgrave, a distinguished naval officer, says:
"The first scene of The Tempest is a very striking instance of the great accuracy of Shakespeare's knowledge in a professional science, the most difficult to attain without the help of experience. He must have acquired it by conversation with some of the most skilful seamen of that time."
Lord Mulgrave then gives the following analysis of Shakespeare's description:

Fall to 't yarely, or we
run ourselves aground

Land discovered under the lee; the wind blowing too fresh to hawl upon a wind with the topsail set. Yare is an old sea term for briskly, in use at that time. This first command is therefore a notice to be ready to execute any orders quickly.

Yare, yare, take in the topsail, blow till thou burst thy wind, if room enough.

The topsail is taken in. Blow till thou burst thy wind, if room enough. The danger in a good sea boat is only from being too near the land; this is introduced here to account for the next order.

Down with the top-mast! Yare! lower, lower! bring her to try with the main-course.

The gale increasing, the topmast is struck, to take the weight from aloft, make the ship drift less to leeward, and bear the mainsail under which the ship is laid to.

Lay her a hold, a hold; set her two courses, off to sea again, lay her off.

The ship, having driven near the shore, the main-sail is hawled up; the ship wore, and the two courses set on the other tack, to endeavor to clear the land that way.

We split, we split.

The ship, not able to weather a point, is driven on shore.

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How to cite this article:
Fleming, William H. How to Study Shakespeare. New York: Doubleday and Co., 1898. Shakespeare Online. 10 Aug. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < >.

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