The Tempest : Alonso’ grief and other’s attitude towards him :Act 2 Scene 1Long Answers

The Tempest : Alonso’s Grief and his Companions’  attitude  

     Question : In what condition is Alonso ? In what way the attitude of his close companions reveals their character traits ?

Answer:  As Ariel had promised to Prospero, a group of survivors of the shipwreck – King Alonso, his brother Sebastian, Antonio, Gonzalo and some other lords – land safely on one part of the island.

   Alonso is sad and dejected and he is actually grieving over the supposed death of his son Ferdinand. He is sure that Ferdinand is drowned in the sea. 

        Gonzalo, a kind and noble courtier of Naples, tries to console him but fails to do so. Alonso rejects his words of false hope and refuses the comfort offered by Gonzalo. 

      Gonzalo’s effort are now seconded by another lord, Adrian, but undermined by the sniping wit of Sebastian and Antonio.

    In the meantime, Antonio and Sebastian whisper among themselves and belittle both Alonso’s grief and Gonzalo’s cheer.

    When Antonio and Sebastian join the conversation around the king, they make no attempt to sooth him.

    Sebastian and Antonio are hard hearted and have no compassion in their hearts. They do not feel pity for Alonso. They make fun of every remark made by Gonzalo.

   Sebastian, the king’s own brother, speaks harsh words to the grieving king. Instead of consoling him he adds to his grief by charging him of being responsible for the death of his own son.

    Sebastian says that if Alonso had not got his daughter married to an African king, there would have been no need for them to make a voyage to a distant land. Then they would not have to meet such a storm on their return voyage. Like Sebastian, Antonio too feels no pity for the king. 

     At that time Gonzalo tells Sebastian that he is only adding to Alonso’s grief. He feels that being a brother he should try to console him rather than rubbing his sore. 

     Then to divert Alonso’s attention from his son’s death, he changes the topic. He begins to speak of his idea of commonwealth and what he would do  if he were the king of the island.

     It becomes clear from the above description that Antonio and Sebastian are so hard hearted that they have no feelings towards a grieving father who has recently lost his son. They are not sympathetic towards Alonso. Neither utters even formal words of sympathy or pity for him.

    On the other hand Gonzalo is a devoted, kind hearted lord. He tries to console Alonso. He talks nonsense only to divert Alonso’s attention from his son’s death. He says that there is some mystery about the island.

   They are still safe after a huge shipwreck, they reached the island which is not nearly as unfit for human habitation, their clothes are as good and fresh as they were new.

   While Sebastian and Antonio see the same things differently : to them air is foul, grass is brown, and their clothes are damaged. But little did they know that it is the magic of the island that the perceptions vary according to the characters, what is green and fresh to the optimistic Gonzalo and is brown and stained to the scoffers Sebastian and Antonio.


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