The Tempest: Character Sketch of King Alonso

 Character Traits of King Alonso in The Tempest

      Alonso is the King of Naples and the father of Ferdinand. In Prospero’s tale he is presented as as a  cut – throat enemy of Prospero who supported Antonio to oust Prospero, the legitimate duke of Milan, twelve years before. As he appears on the play, however, he is acutely aware of the consequences of all his actions. At the end of the play he rises in our esteem and wins our sympathy. Main traits of his character are as follows

   •  A villain

      Alonso is a villain in the play “The Tempest”. He is not completely a wicked man as Antonio and Sebastian are. When Prospero was the duke of Milan, Alonso was bitterly hostile to Prospero. Therefore, when an opportunity presents itself in Antonio’s project to usurp his brother’s   dukedom, Alonso gives his support to Antonio. In this way he not only satisfies his feeling of Antagonism towards Prospero, but also gets an annual tribute from Milan and makes the state of Milan a tributary of Naples. Alonso behaves most cruelly towards Prospero by exposing him and his innocent little daughter  to the mercy of the winds and the waves. Ariel includes him in his proclamation of the  –     “three  men of sin, most unfit to live”.

      • Alonso’s Crime

         Alonso was the sworn enemy of Prospero, when the latter was the duke of Milan. Alonso wanted to dominate the dukedom of Milan, so he joined hands with Antonio to usurp his brother Prospero’s dukedom. Alonso agreed to recognise Antonio as the duke of Milan and he also helped him in expelling Prospero. In return Antonio would pay an annual tribute to him and recognise  Alonso as his sovereign Lord. Alonso’s unjust behaviour can be seen when he left Prospero and his infant daughter to the mercy of the winds and waves. 

     • Alonso as a Loving Father

         Although Alonso  treats Prospero inhumanly, yet he is not without heart. He loves his son, Ferdinand dearly. When he thinks his son to have perished in the shipwreck he is inconsolable. He is heart – broken and grief – striken due to his loss. He is so depressed that Gonzalo’s humourous and witty remarks do not cheer him. The meaningless conversation of Sebastian and Antonio irritates him. He is so annoyed by Gonzalo’s efforts to console him that he rebukes him by following remarks – 

   “You cram these words into my ears against

     The stomach of my sense………..”

     Subsequently on finding his son alive, he is exceedingly happy.

      • Remorseful at his Past Misdeeds 

        Although Alonso did wrong with Prospero but he is not as bad as Antonio and Sebastian. He behaved unjustly towards Prospero due to his greed of power and gold but when Ariel in the form of the harpy accuses him of villainy, his inner conscience is awakened. He is filled with remorse that he repents his bad action. 

     When Alonso faces Prospero, he does not believe that the real Prospero is standing before him. Alonso, therefore says that, this Prospero does not seem to be the real Prospero, yet he is inclined to believe that he is really the original Prospero because after seeing him, his senses, which he had lost have returned to him. Alonso then begs Prospero’s pardon for his past misdeeds and says that Prospero’s dukedom would be restored to him. He says to Prospero on meeting him – 

    “Thy dukedom I resign and do entreat

    Thou pardon me my wrong.”

     Finally, it can be observed that Alonso is a villain under the pressure of circumstances but the supposed death of his son goads him to repent of his sins. He undergoes a change for the better in his character at the end of the play. This he evokes our sympathy.

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