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Resolutions Of Forgiveness, Repentance And Reconciliation In Shakespeare's The Tempest

1423 words - 6 pages

Stephen Orgel, in the Oxford World Classics Introduction of The Tempest, says that the resolutions of forgiveness, repentance and reconciliation through the harmony of marriage that Prospero has undertaken to achieve are not completely met. This is true as not all injuries are forgiven, and certain characters fail to repent for their wrongs. The marriage does not completely achieve its role of reconciliation, as we have to question its origins and stability.

In The Tempest Prospero has orchestrated events in such a way as to resolve the injustices and injuries that have occurred to him and his daughter, Miranda. As the play progresses more injuries occur. Antonio and Sebastian plot to kill Alonso and Gonzales, so that Sebastian can become Duke of Naples, Prospero intervenes and prevents the assasination. Caliban, Ferdinand and Stephono plan to assassinate Prospero in order to gain control over the island, however Prospero thwarts their attempt. There are other injustices in the play, however Prospero does not seek to resolve these. This is because the idea of justice in the play is highly subjective. Prospero controls the fate of all the other characters. He is the ultimate justice server in the play. His idea of justice is therefore one-sided. He therefore fails to see or attempt to resolve his own injustices, that of his ill-treatment of Ariel and Caliban, both who have ultimately been enslaved by Prospero. He also fails to see the immorality in controling other people with the use of magic.

Prospero's main aim for the orchestrations on the island is to regain his dukedom, forgive those who did him any injustice, to have those people repent, and to create reconciliation amoungst them with the mariage of Miranda and Ferdinand. His plans are partially achieved. He manages to make Alonso repent for what he did. When Alonso sees Prospero and realises his injustice towards Prospero, he immediately repents, asking Prospero “[to] pardon [him his] wrongs”(5.1.118-119) “thy Dukedom I resign and do entreat Thou pardon me my wrongs.” Prospero has achieved his end with Alonso and can now forgive him “first, noble friend, Let me embrace thine age, whose honor cannot Be measured or confined.” (5.1.120-122).

Prospero fails to get Antonio to repent however he forgives him, saying “For you, most wicked sir, whom to call brother Would even infect my mouth, I do forgive Thy rankest fault – all of them.”(5.1.129-132). Even in Prospero's forgiveness of his brother there is still an air of revenge. He calls Antonio a “most wicked sir”, this attack on his brother's nature shows that he has not completely forgiven his brother, instead he wants to make it clear just how “wicked” he, a person of nobility who should know better, has been. This attitude of prospero may be a result of Antonio's refusal to repent, and therefore Prospero wishes to let him know that even though he is “wicked” he is still going to be the better man, a man more worth of the throne,...

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