The Tempest : Character Sketch of Gonzalo

 Character Sketch of Gonzalo

     Gonzalo is an honest old counsellor at the court of Naples. He is a kind hearted noble and good natured courtier. He is the one who helped Prospero and Miranda survive against  Antonio’s plot to murder them twelve years back. Some important traits of his character are –

      • Sympathetic natured man

       Gonzalo’s sympathetic nature is revealed to us when he helps Prospero at the time of Prospero’s banishment. Gonzalo secretly placed food, water and other essential commodities in the boat. Apart from this he also placed there  a large number of books which Prospero valued more than his dukedom. 

     Gonzalo feels sympathetic towards Alonso when he finds that Alonso is heart – broken at the supposed loss of his son, Ferdinand. Gonzalo tries to console Alonso.

    • Loyal and Sincere

     Gonzalo is loyal and sincere to King Alonso. He tries to comfort and console Alonso when he is grief – stricken due to the supposed death of his son, Ferdinand. When Sebastian makes Alonso more miserable by saying that Alonso himself is responsible for his misfortunes, Gonzalo rebukes him to set him on the right path.

   •  His Calmness and Cheerfulness in Misfortune 

     In the opening scene, when the ship was in danger of being wrecked, Gonzalo talks in a lighter mood, deriving comfort from the boatswain who exercises his authority on the ship. In the midst of the danger, he feels hopeful, on the grounds that the boatswain has the marks of a man who can never be drowned and who will die of hanging on land. In his opinion, if the boatswain can not drown then the ship also can not sink, and thus they are all safe. Therefore the boat swain’s destiny would be the means of survival of the ship and its passengers.

     •  Wise and Understanding

      Though Gonzalo has not heard the speech of Ariel in the form of harpy, he on seeing the conditions of Alonso, Antonio and Sebastian, observes that they are  guilt – stricken. He becomes anxious to prevent them from harming themselves in any way.

     • Garrulous and Talkative

     Gonzalo is very talkative as kind – hearted old man apt to be. As an old man his garrulity is certainly excusable. His talks seems to be interminable when he seeks to comfort the king in his grief for the loss of his son. Even though the king is averse to hear Gonzalo, yet the latter does not stop talking. Alonso says – 

   “You cram these words into mine ears against

    The stomach of my sense”.

   He seems to be rather obtuse. Certainly Gonzalo is plain, blunt courtier who understands little of the intricate movements of the human mind. After all he means well, when he seeks to divert the king’s thoughts, but he fails to understand that a man in grief would rather like to be left alone. 


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