‘To err is human, to forgive divine”. What does this saying mean to you? Write 600-1000 word essay on this question in relation to Act 5 Scene 1
“To err is human, to forgive for divine” is a quote which I indeed hold close to heart. It is human nature to make mistakes and although admittedly apologizing can be difficult process at times, it takes a bigger person to be able to forgive and move on. The ability to forgive, is one ultimately God does best in his divine mercy, and people with said ability to forgive wholeheartedly are people who are said to have this Godlike, divine ability.
Every person commits mistakes, some believe this is due to our power of reasoning which is said to be very limited, hence resulting in mistakes being committed. In ‘The Tempest’ by William Shakespeare, there are many various situations that illustrate the flaws in human nature when mistakes are committed by characters in the play.
For example, Prospero takes his magic away for good when he feels guilty for Alonso and his crew :- By my so potent art. But this rough magic /I here abjure, and, when I have required /Some heavenly music, which even now I do, To work mine end upon their senses that /This airy charm is for/ I'll break my staff, Bury it certain fathoms in the earth/And deeper than did ever plummet sound /'ll drown my book. (Act V Sc 1 50-57). He chose to forgive instead of revenge :- Yet with my nobler reason 'gaitist my fury /Do I take part: 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 (Act V Sc 1 26-30). Let not forget about Sebastian, Alonso’s brother. Sebastian committed a he sin by allowing Antonio’s twisted words to get to his head in attempting to kill Alonso to seize the crown and title King of Naples. Throughout this act, he seem a little bit guilty for his past actions but not wholeheartedly.
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People commit mistakes not only knowingly, but unknowingly at times. For example, sometimes we may act in a such manner or say something without malice nor the intention to hurt others, but said actions and words may end up hurting another without us being aware of the same. In “The Tempest”, such mistakes have been illustrated by the character. In this act, Alonso the King of Naples felt very guilty for casting away Prospero and Prospero’s daughter, Miranda on a rickety boat at sea. He felt that he owes Prospero a huge dept. for what he did in his past, thus by correcting his mistake, he return Prospero’s dukedom back to him and coming back to Naples:- Thy dukedom I resign and do entreat/ Thou pardon me my wrongs (Act V, Sc 1 118-1119)
Believe that the power of forgiving one is a special one, as this is the only power which deliberates both the forgiver and forgiven at the same time. In “The Tempest’ by William Shakespeare, Prospero demonstrates his ability when he forgives Antonio, his brother, who committed the ultimate mistake and betrayal by betraying his brother and use Prospero’s weakness to his advantage cheating Prospero from retaining his rightful place on throne. Indeed this was huge betrayal on Antonio’s part as Prospero trusted Antonio wholeheartedly and had such deep brotherly love for him. As we all, trust is not something which is easily redeemable and this huge betrayal had caused Prospero’s life to take a 360 degree turn overnight leaving Prospero high and dry having to live life as a pauper on an isolated magical island. In my opinion, forgiving Antonia would be one of the biggest gifts which Prospero could have given himself and would have felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off Prospero’s shoulders.
Such ultimate betrayal is not easy to forgive, however, having held on to the bitterness of the betrayal for so long. Prospero finally manages to reach out to the divinity within himself and forgive Antonio, liberating Prospero in the process as Prospero manages to finally eradicate the demons which have been plaguing him through the years about getting revenge or not. Antonio, on the other hand, does not seem sorry or guilty for his actions and sins he had committed in the past as he remains quiet throughout Act 5 Scene 1 except some response when Sebastian ask him a question :- Very like; one of them /Is a plain fish, and, no doubt, marketable
On this note, I believe that divinity exists within every human being. If we look deep and hard enough, we would be able to find this divinity within ourselves and if we take the initiative and make the effort to reach out to this, we would finally be able to make peace with ourselves. In this instance, not ony did Prospero manage to forgive his brother, Antonio, but he also managed to find the ability within himself to forgive people who were strangers to him yet who had betrayed him and plotted against him. For example, Caliban gat Stephano and Trinculo in to his scheme and plan in attempt to kill Prospero yet Trinculo and Stephano had not even meet Prosper.. Caliban plans to kill Prospero, burn his magic robe and books so he can take over what he believes was rightfully his, the island as his mother Sycorax was the ruler of the island before Prospero. Later, Prospero seems to forgive Caliban for his attempt to rape Miranda many years ago and his attempt at murdering him and decided to let Caliban rule the island. Cailban felt extremely guilty and begging forgiveness from Prospero and saying how he was a foll in believeing Stephano as his god :- Ay, that I will; and I'll be wise hereafter/ And seek for grace. What a thrice-double ass/Was I, to take this drunkard for a god/ And worship this dull fool! (Act V Sc 1 294-297)
In conclusion, I believe that although err is human, if every person takes the initiative to look within themselves and make a conscious effort in our actions and words to act only in a positive manner, such mistakes, although impossible to eradicate in its eternity, can be significantly reduced. Furthermore, if mistakes and crimes have been committed against us, rather than allowing the past to fester within ourselves and rot our souls in the process, we should endeavour to find the divinity within ourselves to be able to forgive the other party wholeheartedly in order to liberate ourselves and be able to move on in life without the baggage of the past constantly at our doorstep like how Prospero in the ‘Epilogue’ He describes the loss of his magical powers (“Now my charms are all o’erthrown”) and says that, he committed a huge crime in imprisoning Ariel and Caliban, the audience has now imprisoned him on the stage. He says that the audience can only release him by applauding, on the stage. He says that the audience can only release him by applauding, and asks them to remember that his only desire was to please them. He says that, as his listeners would like to have their own crimes forgiven, they should forgive him, and set him free by clapping.