The Tempest opens with how Prospero – the former Duke of Milan – was betrayed by his own brother Antonio so that he could take over the title. It was only because of his loyal subject Gonzalo that Prospero managed to escape with his daughter Miranda. They faced a lot of difficulties and the magician carried out his revenge over Antonio and his accomplice Alonso – the King of Naples by getting them stranded on the same island that he had been living on for years.
However, it is only a little while later that Prospero manages to completely pardon those that went against him for their treachery, and it is this ability to forgive despite all that went wrong that is one of the main themes of the play: “The rarer action is In virtue than in vengeance. They being penitent, The sole drift of my purpose doth extend Not a frown further. Go release them, Ariel” (Shakespeare Act 5, Scene 1). In fact, it is the perfect example of how losing all that is good allows one to fully appreciate the better things in life that one would have taken for granted otherwise.
Forgiveness is not always this blatant. One may be angry over little things which do not really matter in the grand scheme of things or one may be angry about things and not actual beings. Ferdinand – the Prince of Naples who falls in love with Miranda – is initially shown to be quite upset at nature for sinking his ship and drowning his crew, friends, and family. However, it is later that he realizes that “Though the seas threaten, they are merciful. I have cursed them without cause” (Shakespeare Act 5, Scene 1).
Nevertheless, Prospero finds it increasingly difficult to excuse Caliban for how he acted towards his only child. In the end, though, he does manage to grant halfhearted forgiveness saying “Go, sirrah, to my cell. Take with you your companions. As you look to have my pardon, trim it handsomely” (Shakespeare Act 5, Scene 1). One cannot always forgive others so easily; it all depends on how terrible the act committed against them was and that is human nature at its best.
Shakespeare, William. The Tempest. n.d.