In Act 5, scene 1 of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Prospero reveals his true identity to Alonso:
Prospero. Behold, sir king,
The wronged Duke of Milan, Prospero:
For more assurance that a living prince
Does now speak to thee, I embrace thy body;
And to thee and thy company I bid
A hearty welcome.
Responding to Prospero’s welcome, Alonso replies:
Alonso. Whether thou be’st he or no,
Or some enchanted trifle to abuse me,
As late I have been, I not know: thy pulse
Beats as of flesh and blood; . . .
Thy dukedom I resign and do entreat
Thou pardon me my wrongs.
This exchange is relevant to the larger themes of the play in a number of different ways, including the following:
- In this exchange, Prospero still strongly feels that he has been “wronged.”
- Nevertheless, in line with the general spirit of reconciliation at the end of the work, he is willing to forgive Alonso.
- However, Prospero not only forgives Alonso but actually physically embraces him, thus exhibiting the warmth and sincerity of his forgiveness.
- Alonso, rather than being defensive, immediately acknowledges his guilt and seeks Prospero’s forgiveness.
- In short, the theme of forgiveness – forgiveness sought and forgiveness granted – is strongly stressed in this episode.
[Please note: because different editions of Shakespeare sometimes assign different line numbers to the very same passages, line numbers have not been given above. However, it should be easy enough to find this exchange in any edition of Shakespeare’s works.]