Revenge and Reconciliation in the Tempest
The Tempest is more concerned with reconciliation than with revenge. ” Evaluate this view of The Tempest by exploring the action and effects of the play. Revenge tragedy was a highly popular genre during the Jacobean era, so understandably Shakespeare would have been heavily influenced by this; one of these examples being Hamlet. Revenge tragedies carried the evident message that those who dabble in revenge will end up being hurt themselves. This is seen in the final scene of Hamlet where the stage is predominantly crowded with corpses.
From looking at the opening scenes of The Tempest it may seem that this play, similar to the rest would follow this genre, however it reveals to have a much more harmonious message to it. Although the closing scenes of the play portray the importance of repentance and harmony, it does not deter from the fact that elements of revenge and unjust cruelty are seen throughout the play. The most obvious example would be that of Prospero’s revenge against Caliban. Prospero’s dominant justification for Caliban to be considered a ‘born devil’ is his attempted rape of Miranda.
There was once a time where Prospero and Caliban had a good relationship, and Caliban even claims “And then I loved thee”. One interpretation of Caliban is him being an evil creature, who in exchange for education and kindness attempted to take the innocence of Prospero’s daughter, Who after committing the act showed no remorse, merely saying “O ho, o ho, would’t had been done! ”. . Prospero is quick to threaten Caliban, “rack [him] with old cramps”, and restricts him within “this hard rock” in isolation.
When looking at Caliban, Prospero shows little mercy or forgiveness, and labels him “a born devil, on whose name/Nurture can never stick”. On one hand Prospero’s actions can be seen as understandable, as the only way in which order can be kept is to treat Caliban like a pet or a child. Caliban’s actions and behaviour reflect the very basic behaviour and functioning of primitive human beings, arguably a resemblance to a child. It could then be seen that Prospero’s dominance over him is similar to that of a father figure. — Prospero? plan for revenge is to make his three enemies go insane with guilt for their betrayal of him and the suffering they caused. This plan becomes most clear when Ariel masked as a Harpy states “you three/ From Milan did supplant good Prospero” For this betrayal they will suffer, Gonzalo, the rare moral man, watching the whole ordeal comments, “All three of them are desperate. Their great guilt,/ Like poison given to work a great time after” It is clear that the remorse and heavy guilt they feel is what causes them to suffer so greatly. Prospero overlooking this states that “these mine enemies are all knit up/ In their distractions.
They are now in my power”. This cements the idea that Prospero is out to take revenge on those who did him wrong, as he is pleased to see their suffering. However, Ariel soon tells Prospero that “The good old lord, Gonzalo/His tears run down his beard”, it could be argued that it is Ariel who persuades Prospero to have mercy. Ariel explains that “if you now beheld them / Your affections would become tender”. Arguably this exchange is what prompts Prospero to undergo a transformation as he is quick to realize that “the rarer action is/ In virtue than in vengeance”.
Prospero soon understands that his anger and passion were prompting him to take revenge. This results in Prospero realizing that revenge would not give him happiness but reconciliation, which is means he must learn to forgive. Prospero says to the ‘three men of sin” “I do forgive thee”. Alonso: It could be seen that Alonso’s initial reaction to seeing Prospero is not to apologize for sending him to his probable death, but question whether what he sees is real ** quote “. Alonso does then seek forgiveness, but the apology seems to be less than genuine.
Possibly Alonso’s only real remorse is that his usurpation of Prospero has resulted in the death of his son Ferdinand, or so he believes. — Antonio “For you, most wicked sir, whom to call brother/ Would even infect my mouth, I do forgive/Thy rankest fault, — all of them; and require/My dukedom of thee, which perforce, I know,/Thou must restore” — “Not a hair perished” Prospero had obviously given his servant strict orders not to harm these people. This is because Prospero? s revenge plan necessitates the survival of these men.