Stormy Weather

With this blog, I will look at the weather and the way it is used as dramatic imagery, particularly storms.  We have all been caught in one at one time; it depends on the person whether you just whinge about being soaked, or enjoy the majestic and spectacular drama that nature provides.

Shakespeare used storm imagery in most of his plays: the famous analogy about the seasons, then louring clouds in Richard III, thunder and lightning in Macbeth, and the dramatic storm of the heath in King Lear, which refers to both the drama in the play, and the king’s state of mind.

Many other writers have done this, of course.  As do movie-makers today, the rain lashing the windows is de rigueur during the climax of many a blockbuster film.  Storms as a metaphor for approaching trouble can be seen in expressions such as “in for stormy weather” and one that sailors of Shakespeare’s day would well understand, “batten down the hatches”.  You prepare for trouble by closing the hatches, which lead from the ship’s deck to the hold, or interior.  When a storm was approaching, they would close these with wooden planks called battens, to make the ship safe and watertight (Enslen).

One play that uses these analogies a lot is The Tempest.  This is obvious by the very title, a tempest is “a violent windstorm, especially one with rain, hail, or snow” (  This is how the play begins, with a violent storm at sea, and a shipwreck.  There is also the tempest that results when Duke Prospero is rediscovered, living on a small island like a Renaissance version of Gilligan, in its aftermath.






Enslen, Samantha.  What Does ‘Batten Down the Hatches’ Mean? Grammar Girl.


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