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"The rarer action is in virtue than in vengeance"In what ways should we consider these lines to be pivotal to the text

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Introduction

"The rarer action is in virtue than in vengeance" In what ways should we consider these lines to be pivotal to the text? In act five, scene one, I believe that the lines; "the rarer action is in virtue than in vengeance" are pivotal to the text, because the outcome of Prospero's decision determines how the play concludes. There are many subtle hints in the text which could suggest why Prospero makes the decision that he does. First, we must question the nature of forgiveness in 'The Tempest'. The lines "I do forgive thee / Unnatural though thou art" in act five, scene one are closely linked with the lines "The rarer action is in virtue than in vengeance" as in both lines it is not obvious why Prospero has decided to forgive. When Prospero says "unnatural though thou art" this could be a reason as to why he does forgive Alonso, because he has been able to recognise that "unnatural" creatures are not that far removed from man, and Prospero himself ; "This thing of darkness, I acknowledge mine", which he admits being able to recognise in act five, scene one, lines 275-276. ...read more.

Middle

Prospero's decision to choose virtue over vengeance could have been foreseen, and therefore is far less complex to make if everything in 'The Tempest' is a product of Prospero's brain and imagination. This idea shows a close link between Shakespeare and Prospero as all of Shakespeare's work is the product of his creativity, which could mirror Prospero and mean that all of his world and art is also the result of his brain. This could be the reason why Prospero looks at life as if it is a trivial sequence of events in act four, scene one; "We are such stuff / As dreams are made on; and our little life / Is rounded with a sleep". Prospero here shows that he, as all humans, is fundamentally mortal, holding a gentle tolerance of life. This offers an explanation as to why Prospero does favour virtue over vengeance as his creativity is dying and his art is too tired to take the route of vengeance so late in life. In making his decision, Prospero needs to take into account the consequences of his actions concerning Ariel and Caliban. Throughout the play Prospero promises Ariel freedom "Do so, and after two days / I will discharge thee", act one, scene two. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, the lines are also pivotal on a more discreet level. 'The Tempest' was Shakespeare's last completed play, which is most likely the reason for the character of Prospero who shares several of Shakespeare's qualities but on different levels. At the end of 'The Tempest', Prospero is an old man, which may have softened him, which is why we may think that he chooses forgiveness; as it is an easier route than vengeance. I believe that it is in fact, the voice of Shakespeare that comes across, disguised by Prospero where Prospero opts for forgiveness. Prospero recognises that he has the chance to cleanse society when given the opportunity for revenge, but he chooses not to act on it, as he recognises that he is also part of the tarnished society. Instead of cleansing society, he almost withdraws himself from it, as Shakespeare did in the literary world. Prospero stopped using his "art" just as Shakespeare stopped his writing, which is his art. At the end of the play Prospero is able to forgive and move on where "every third thought shall be my grave", and Shakespeare stops writing and by doing so preserves his magic in his works. 1,267 words 2 ...read more.

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