Real-time Tempest?

Does The Tempest take place in real-time?

There are several references to “three hours”  –


If thou be’st Prospero,
Give us particulars of thy preservation;
How thou hast met us here, who three hours since
Were wreck’d upon this shore; where I have lost–
How sharp the point of this remembrance is!–
My dear son Ferdinand.

And then, shortly after:


What is this maid with whom thou wast at play?
Your eld’st acquaintance cannot be three hours:
Is she the goddess that hath sever’d us,
And brought us thus together?

Maybe that technically counts as one because it’s Alonso both times.  Earlier, though, Miranda had said this:


Alas, now, pray you,
Work not so hard: I would the lightning had
Burnt up those logs that you are enjoin’d to pile!
Pray, set it down and rest you: when this burns,
‘Twill weep for having wearied you. My father
Is hard at study; pray now, rest yourself;
He’s safe for these three hours.

She’s clearly not talking about the same window of time there.  Not only does it happen earlier in the play (when Alonso’s three hours won’t have passed yet), but she’s talking about her father being out of their hair for at least the next three hours.

Just one of those interesting things you spot from time to time. If Romeo and Juliet is “two hours’ traffic of the stage,” and a full text Hamlet is four hours, how long would The Tempest have been?

One thought on “Real-time Tempest?

  1. Well, of course it was three hours. That's where we get this famous expression:

    A Three-Hour Tour

    (A Three-Hour Tour)

    It's also notable that, at the beginning of The Tempest, the weather started getting rough and that the tiny boat was tossed. If it hadn't been for the courage of the Boatswain and the Mariners (mentioned in the speech prefixes), the boat (which was probably called The Minnow) would have been lost.


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