Gonzalo & Prospero

Gonzalo Gonzalo is an optimistic, good-tempered, loyal Lord. Gonzalo is grateful and optimistic about having survived the shipwreck. He believes the island is a good place to be and that they are all lucky to have survived. He helped Prospero and Miranda to escape after Antonio tried to seize Prospero’s title. Gonzalo envisions a plantation built on the island, where no one would work and all people would be equal. This fantasy gives a picture into Gonzalo’s innocence and purity. Gonzalo gives voice to the idea that, despite the (seeming) loss of the ship, the survivors can uncover something even greater.

Even Prospero associates Gonzalo with an agent of fate. Gonzalo, is one of Prospero’s few friends, he has a colonizer’s urge to rule. But if he became king of the island, he wouldn’t rule at all. The Tempest is the definition of a “Utopia”. For different characters this “utopia” means different things. Though all of the characters have a different image of “utopia”, Gonzalo and Prospero both think of the island as their “utopia” they have an almost similar image of it. Prospero thinks of it as the place he is king and reigns over and has complete dominion over.

Gonzalo thinks of it as a commonwealth where he crowns himself king also but later he sums up the reasoning of a stateless state. Gonzalo corrects his aspects of a utopia and he allows himself to become the king over the island just long enough to abolish both kingship, power and authority. Prospero only uses part of the guidelines for a utopian society. He doesn’t believe that everyone is equal, he thinks’ he is higher than everyone else. Gonzalo’s word shows that even he, gentle Gonzalo, has the desire to rule and to acquire power.

Gonzalo idealized Utopia suggests; a land where everyone is equal and happy. The king’s courtiers do not recognize an authority on the island; to them it is a free land. Instead of trying to unite, they fracture: while the court sleeps, Antonio and Sebastian plot to kill their king so that Sebastian can take over the throne. Gonzalo’s commonwealth would be torn apart by those like Sebastian and Antonio; people who care more about their own power and prestige than what are best for the people.

The utopianism shown in The Tempest through Gonzalo and Prospero did not succeed in the end. Prospero changed and gave up his evil powers not because that’s what a utopian society would do but through the virtues he learned when he was in the “real world”. There is a chance that Gonzalo’s utopia still has a chance to exist, but it can only work if all rebellion is gone and everyone forgives each other and agrees to live together in love and peace, a world of pure perfection and peace: utopia.

Gonzalo never approved of what was done to Prospero. In his speech on the ideal commonwealth, he expresses distaste for the more cynical features of government and society, exploitation of labor, extremes of luxury, poverty and gluttony. Although Gonzalo appears superficially to be foolish and his manner may be tedious, his speech is meant to divert. Mowat, B. A. & Werstine, P. (Ed. ). (1994). The Tempest. Washington, DC: The Folgers Shakespeare Library.