Prospero, the deposed Duke of Milan, and his teenage daughter, Miranda, live on a remote island where they have been stranded for the past twelve years. Their only companions are Ariel, a magical spirit enslaved by Prospero, and Caliban, a native of the island who is also enslaved by Prospero. Prospero was originally Duke of Milan, but his position was usurped by his brother Antonio, possibly with the consent of King Alonso of Naples and Alonso’s brother Sebastian.
The play opens with Antonio, Alonso, and several of their retainers on a ship in a great storm, the titular tempest. Unbeknownst to them, the storm is the work of Prospero, who aims to shipwreck them on his island. Once they are washed ashore, Prospero plans to take revenge on his foes and regain his position as Duke of Milan. Eventually, through magic, intimidation, and trickery, Prospero succeeds in his plans. Prospero is restored to his dukedom, brings about the revelation of Antonio’s betrayal, and secures the marriage of Miranda to King Alonso’s son, Prince Ferdinand.