The Tempest Five Act Structure Diagram
Lesson Plan Reference
Grade Level 9-12
Difficulty Level 3 (Developing to Mastery)
Type of Assignment Individual or Group
Type of Activity: The Five Act Play (Dramatic Structure)Common Core Standards
- [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/2] Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text
- [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/3] Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme
- [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/5] Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise
Students can create and show a storyboard that captures the concept of the Five Act Structure by making a six-cell storyboard, like the one below. For each cell, have students create a scene that follows the acts in order: Prologue, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Denouement.
Example The Tempest Five Act Structure Diagram
Act 1: Prologue
The play opens with Gonzalo, Antonio, and Alonso arguing with the Boatswain and his crew who are in a sheer panic in the middle of a bad storm on the sea. The boat breaks up, and shipwrecks the men on an island. The storm was caused by Prospero, who has been practicing sorcery on the island for the 12 years he’s been exiled from Milan. He is aided by his supernatural assistant Ariel. Caliban, son of the evil witch Sycorax who imprisoned Ariel in a tree, hates working for Prospero.
Act 1: Conflict
Prospero arranged the shipwreck to get his traitorous brother Antonio and the King of Naples, Alonso, onto the island. Ferdinand is separated from his father, Alonso, and runs into Miranda and Prospero. He and Miranda immediately fall in love, which is all part of Prospero’s plan to make his brother see the error of his ways, but Prospero has to pretend to oppose the union at first.
Act 2: Rising Action
Alonso, Antonio, Gonzalo, and their men are wandering on the island. Alonso believes Ferdinand is dead. Sebastian is tactless, and mocks both Alonso and Gonzalo. Ariel plays a song to make all of the men except Antonio and Sebastian fall asleep. Antonio tries to convince Sebastian to kill Alonso and take the throne of Naples, but Ariel wakes the King and Gonzalo in time. Meanwhile, Caliban runs into Stephano and Trinculo and initially thinks they’re Prospero’s spirits, but discovers they’re lost sailors. Stephano is drunk, and his liquor intrigues Caliban. He throws himself at their mercy and vows to worship them as gods.
Act 3: Climax
Ferdinand is busy, stacking logs and doing manual labor at Prospero’s orders. Miranda goes to see him and they confess their love to each other, agreeing to get married. Prospero watches from afar. Meanwhile, Caliban convinces drunk Stephano and Trinculo to kill Prospero in his sleep and marry his daughter. Ariel intervenes and causes some confusion, then goes to tell Prospero. Back on the beach, Prospero arranges for a phantom banquet to appear and suddenly vanish in front of Alonso, Antonio, Sebastian, and Gonzalo. Ariel appears as a harpy and declares that Alonso, Antonio, and Sebastian have been brought here to be punished for what they did to Prospero, leaving the men cowering in fright.
Act 4: Falling Action
Prospero gives his blessing for Ferdinand and Miranda’s marriage, and provides them with a vision of the goddesses Iris, Juno, and Ceres. Stephano, Trinculo, and Caliban sneak into Prospero’s bedroom, stinking from the swamp that Ariel led them into. Trinculo and Stephano get distracted in their drunkenness by beautiful clothes laid out seemingly for them, and Caliban’s protests go unheard. Prospero and Ariel enter with spirits disguised as hounds and chase them out.
Act 5: Denouement
Prospero feels bad about imprisoning Alonso, Antonio, Sebastian, and Gonzalo, and tells Ariel to bring them in where he performs his last spell and reveals his identity. Alonso apologizes, and Prospero reveals Ferdinand and Miranda, alive and well. He proposes that they will all go back to Milan for the wedding, and he will retire. He frees Ariel from his servitude, and breaks the spell that binds Caliban to him. Caliban realizes the error of his ways, and Prospero orders him, Stephano, and Trinculo to go clean his room. The boat is magically in perfect condition and ready to sail. Prospero asks the audience to set him free with their applause.
(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)
Create a visual plot diagram of The Tempest.
- Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
- Separate the play into the Prologue/Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Denouement.
- Create an image that represents an important moment or set of events for each of the acts.
- Write a description of each of the steps in the plot diagram.
- Save and submit the assignment. Make sure to use the drop-down menu to save it under the assignment title.
(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)