Who is more villainous – Antonio or Sebastian in The Tempest – Act 2 Scene 1

 Act 2 Scene 2 – Long Answers 

Question : What do you think, who is more villainous -Antonio or Sebastian ?

Answer:  It is clear from the way each of them Antonio and Sebastian, behaves that Antonio is more villainous than Sebastian. No doubt, Sebastian is an evil minded person and has no sympathy towards his grieving brother Alonso for the supposed death of his son Ferdinand. Neither he has any feelings for Alonso, nor he tries to console him. But  he continuously accuses Alonso for marrying his daughter to the distant African king. As 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. They would not have then to face the storm on their return voyage, which resulted in a shipwreck. This way he blames the king himself for the death of his own son.  

      Although Sebastian is hard hearted man yet he is not as completely heartless as Antonio. It is Antonio who sows the seeds of treason in Sebastian’s mind.  

     Antonio does not reveal his vicious plan at once. He speaks in a veiled and indirect manner in order to probe Sebastian’s mind. 

    Antonio insidiously  suggests that Sebastian has a bright future before him, and that Sebastian can rise very high in life provided he takes the necessary steps in that direction.

     Sebastian understands what Antonio means to say. When Antonio is certain that it is not risky to reveal his plan then he expresses his plan in clear terms.

    Antonio says that Alonso’s heir to the throne  was Ferdinand who has surely perished during the storm, and that the next heir is Claribel who is now living in the far-off land of Tunis and who can never know what is going on in her native Naples. 

    What Antonio means is that, if Sebastian agrees to the murder of Alonso at the same time when Alonso is asleep, Sebastian can become the king of Naples because Sebastian would then become the legitimate claimant to the throne.

     Sebastian gets tempted by the idea of becoming the king. At first, Antonio asks Sebastian to kill Alonso as he will strike down Gonzalo. Sebastian asks why they should kill Gonzalo unnecessarily. It reveals that he is not completely inhuman. 

     Sebastian says that Antonio had himself previously got rid of his brother Prospero and taken  the possession of Milan. Antonio says that he had done only the right thing and that he is now enjoying the fruits of his action in having driven away prospero from Milan.

   “Sebastian: I remember

               You did supplant brother Prospero

   Antonio:  True

          And look how well my garments sit upon me 

        Much feater than before;  my brother’s servants

       Were then my fellow;  now they are my men .”

    Sebastian then asks if Antonio’s conscience does not prick him. Antonio replies that, even if he had twenty consciences, they would not have prevented him from getting rid of Prospero and becoming the Duke of Milan in his place.

    “Sebastian: But for your conscience

   Antonio:  Ay, sir, where lies that ? If’t were a kibe

       ‘T would put me  to my slipper:  but I feel not

      This diety in my bossom ; twenty consciences,

      That stand ‘twixt me and Milan, candied be they

    And melt, ere they molest !”

     Here Antonio’s reply reveals how cruel he is. When Antonio feels that Sebastian may not be able to kill his own brother, he reverse the plan. He asks Sebastian to kill Gonzalo while he himself will put an end to Alonso’s life.

     Thus it is clear that Antonio is more evil minded, cruel and inhuman than Sebastian.

More related questions:

Treacherous Plot Proposed by Antonio

Ferdinand’s First Meeting with Miranda  : Act  1 Scene 2 

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