The Dramatic Importance Of Antonio And Sebastian

1339 words - 5 pages

The Dramatic Importance of Antonio and Sebastian

Antonio and Sebastian are dramatically significant in the play for
several reasons. Shakespeare has used them to represent several
themes and human characteristics for comparison within the play. He
presents them in a number of ways and their relationships with other
characters are objects of great interest to the audience.

Although they are the representatives of the evil in human nature and
the lack of repent they also provide great humour in the play. Their
witty exchanges and mocking of other characters is unkind yet the
audience enjoys it. Gonzalo in particular suffers from their harsh
sense of humour,

Sebastian: ‘Look, he’s winding up the watch of his
wit; by and by it
will strike-’

At the same time as adding to the comedy, Antonio in particular is
adding to the dark side of the play as they often discuss murder
without even mentioning it as wrong. Sebastian displays weakness of
character in succumbing to Antonio’s plan and therefore represents
this as a flaw leading to outrageous consequences in an otherwise
respectable man. Here we may compare him with Macbeth who was also
persuaded by another allowing his hidden evil to surface.

With these characters I believe Shakespeare is aiming to prove that
money and birth alone cannot make a man who is essentially evil,
respectable. The pair are hungry for power unlike Caliban who also
plots to murder yet he believes riches and wealth are worthless. By
comparing them to him we realise that Caliban who is named
‘uncivilised’ has far more understandable reason to act the way he
does, by pure instinct. Antonio and Sebastian’s desire for power is
actually plain greed and this is one of the main themes of the play.
Also, their lack of repent for their sins is consistent throughout the
play as is their lack of gratitude for Prospero’s forgiveness.

Like all the characters in the play they present themselves to the
audience. Their terrible depiction in the first scene gives credence
to the traitorous depiction Prospero gives the audience in the next
scene. Sebastian’s first lines’

‘A pox o’your throat, you bawling,
blasphemous,

incharitable dog.’

are quite appalling to the audience and a great indicator of his
character. As if to prove that the near death experience was a
truthful display of character Shakespeare shows them mocking the
others at the beginning of the second act when they are all safe.
They use wordplay and demonstrate mischievous skills with language
which proves that they must be clever though very unkind. They mutter
insults to one another without respect. Sebastian says to Antonio,

‘He receives comfort like cold porridge.’

and Antonio...

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