A story of shipwreck and magic, The Tempest begins on a ship caught in a violent storm with Alonso, the king of Naples, on board. On a nearby island, the exiled Duke of Milan, Prospero, tells his daughter, Miranda, that he has caused the storm with his magical powers. Prospero had been banished twelve years earlier when Prospero’s brother, Antonio—also on the doomed ship—conspired with Alonso to become the duke instead. Prospero and Miranda are served by a spirit named Ariel and by Caliban, son of the island’s previous inhabitant, the witch Sycorax.
On the island, castaways from the wreck begin to appear. First is Alonso’s son Ferdinand, who immediately falls in love with Miranda. Prospero secretly approves of their love, but tests the pair by enslaving Ferdinand. After secretly watching Miranda and Ferdinand exchange vows, Prospero releases Ferdinand and consents to their marriage.
Other castaways who appear are Trinculo and Stephano, Alonso’s jester and butler, who join forces with Caliban to kill Prospero and take over the island. The nobles from the ship search for Ferdinand and are confronted with a spectacle including a Harpy, who convinces Alonso that Ferdinand’s death is retribution for Prospero’s exile.
Having all his enemies under his control, Prospero decides to forgive them. Alonso, joyously reunited with his son, restores Prospero to the dukedom of Milan and welcomes Miranda as Ferdinand’s wife. As all except Caliban and Ariel prepare to leave the island, Prospero, who has given up his magic, bids farewell to the island and the audience.