The Tempest Compassion and Forgiveness Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Act.Scene.Line). Line numbers correspond to the 2008 Norton edition.
[Aside to Sebastian and Antonio.] But you, my brace
of lords, were I so minded,
I here could pluck his highness' frown upon you
And justify you traitors. At this time
I will tell no tales.
[aside] The devil speaks in him. (5.1.142-147)
Sebastian must be deluded. He speaks in an aside, we're not sure to whom, but he's definitely not denying his attempted betrayal of the King. Can Sebastian really think that Prospero is the one in the wrong? Does he recognize the mercy that Prospero is showing him?
PROSPERO [aside to Sebastian]
[To Antonio.] For you, most wicked sir, whom to
Would even infect my mouth, I do forgive
Thy rankest fault, all of them, and require
My dukedom of thee, which perforce I know
Thou must restore. (5.1.148-154)
It's shocking, but important to note that Antonio doesn't speak to Prospero. We doubt he's cowed into silence by shame, especially because he's back to jesting and taunting once Stefano and Trinculo enter. Is Antonio beyond hope? Is it even meaningful to forgive him?
On the other hand, it's the King who has the power to return Antonio's dukedom to Prospero. Is this really Prospero being gracious and forgiving of his terrible brother, or is it Prospero rubbing it in his brother's face that he triumphed after all?