• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

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

Extracts from this document...


"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.


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.


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.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level The Tempest section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level The Tempest essays

  1. `The rarer action is in virtue rather than in vengeance` How far do these ...

    For example, on ll.217-18, ` But are they, Ariel, safe? `, and again 23 lines later on l.240, `The time 'twixt six and now / Must by us both be spent more preciously`. Prospero's decision to forgive is a difficult one for him; evidence for this in Act 5 Scene

  2. Miranda Grey and Frederick Clegg are the main characters that are interpreted in the ...

    would not be as prominent as they are. These justifications would not exist, or be as believable if it was not Clegg himself revealing them to the reader. Being exposed to the reasoning behind his actions puts forward a base to my interpretation of him, that his mental capacity is

  1. Compare and contrast the ways in which the writers of The Tempest and Translations ...

    Manus exclaims in Act One "They call you Roland! They both call you Roland!" And Owen, echoing Juliet's "That which we call a rose, | By any other name would smell as sweet" (Romeo and Juliet II.2.) replies "It's only a name. It's the same me isn't it? Well, isn't it?"

  2. Explore Shakespeare’s Presentation of Caliban; a product of nature or nurture?

    is completely blank of anything and there are no innate ideas, it means that the social environment and social interactions shape the character and depending on the treatment they receive they become a good natured or bad natured individual. William Shakespeare probably did not have any idea of these theories

  1. Character study of Prospero

    I don't believe this is fair because I believe Prospero probably would have tried to take revenge even if he did not have his daughter. An audience also learns there is a loving part of his character. This is obviously another positive aspect, he describes his daughter as a cherubin, which gives her an almost angel like image.

  2. With reference to two or three episodes, explore Shakespeare's dramatic use and presentation of ...

    is evil, as even after Miranda "pitied thee (Caliban)...took pains to make thee speak, taught thee each hour", Caliban merely says that "you taught me language, and my profit on't is I know how to curse". This shows that although time is spent teaching Caliban how to speak, the only thing he learns is how to curse.

  1. '...this thing of darkness I

    Caliban admits to attempting rape on Miranda and states he would have 'peopled else this isle with Caliban's'. It is in this scene we learn how Caliban attempted to 'violate' Miranda and in return, he is now enslaved to Prospero completing menial tasks around the island.

  2. Original Writing - The Dad I thought I knew.

    He also took the time to read me a bedtime story. But I couldn't just go to sleep straightaway. It didn't feel right; not staying up until the midnight bell after all the commotion everyone made all day. However, just as I was about to go to the moons and stars, I could hear it - my worst nightmare...

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work