Gonzalo in William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” Analytical Essay

This is FREE sample
This text is free, available online and used for guidance and inspiration. Need a 100% unique paper? Order a custom essay.
  • Any subject
  • Within the deadline
  • Without paying in advance
Get custom essay

In Act II Scene I of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the scene opens to reveal the devastating aftermath of Prospero’s magic storm. The passengers from the ship (King Alonso, Sebastian, Antonio, noblemen Adrian, Francisco, and the councilor Gonzalo) find themselves shipwrecked on an island; the beautiful landscape and seclusion of the island inspires Gonzalo to imagine a vision of a utopian commonwealth in which he would govern “with such perfection” (2.1). While emphasizing the contrast between’s Gonzalo’s optimistic character with the power-obsessed ideas of others around him, it is through Gonzalo’s fantasy that highlights the hypocritical nature and idea of power and exploitation, while questioning the definition of what it means to be a “ruler”.

Gonzalo’s fantasy places an emphasis on a community where everyone would share the bounty of all abundance that nature brings forth. In his commonwealth, there would be “no kind of traffic” (commerce), “no use of metal, corn, or wine, or oil; no occupation”; all the men and women will be united under a harmonious casteless system, unfearful of “treason and felon[ies],” while most importantly, living under “no sovereignty” (2.1.155-). This is significant because Gonzalo’s utopia very much contrasts with the general colonialistic attitude portrayed elsewhere within the play; Gonzalo has found himself on unknown territory; instead of exploiting its resources (like Prospero did with Caliban), Gonzalo appreciates the bountiful land. His fantasy society fully rejects European social and political ideals and instead resorts to indigenous customs such as relying heavily upon nature and being self-sufficient.

In addition, Gonzalo’s vision reveals his concerns about power and authority; his monologue constantly stresses the notion that there will be “no name of magistrate…[no] riches, poverty… succession” and most importantly, “no sovereignty” (2.1.155). Though hypocritical, as he prior claimed his desire to govern this commonwealth as a “king,” this utopian commonwealth has eliminated most sources of conflicts that existed within European society, which Gonzalo may not favor. This anarchist and libertarian view clearly reveals Gonzalo’s unhappiness with authority and the hierarchy that comes with it; at a superficial level, he may seem happy and optimistic, but his unfulfilled dreams of being an ultimate ruler illustrates how he desires much more power in life and is yet to be fully satisfied-hence his complete rejection of power and hierarchy in his utopian vision.

Though Gonzalo isn’t the only character to have viewed this island as a “utopia,” it is important to note that Gonzalo’s meaning of the idea greatly contrasts Prospero’s idea of a utopia. While Prospero views it as a place in which he has the right to conquer and have complete dominion over (thus appointing himself the “King”), Gonzalo thinks of it as a commonwealth, where, although he also crowns himself king, no one will ultimately have dominion over anyone else. Gonzalo desires to abolish both sovereignty and kingship, whereas Prospero does not believe that everyone is equal, thus he must have the right to rule due to his elevated knowledge and self-proclaimed sense of superiority. The difference in the two character’s utopia serves as foils to each other while placing a large emphasis on the idea of power. Gonzalo’s utopia is clearly absent of status, social order, profession, and property; it assumes a uniformity and unity of humans.


Cite this paper

Gonzalo in William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” Analytical Essay. (2021, Oct 31). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/gonzalo-in-william-shakespeares-the-tempest/



How is Gonzalo loyal?
Gonzalo is incredibly loyal to the King and does everything in his power to help him, even if it means putting himself in danger.
How is Gonzalo optimistic?
Gonzalo is optimistic because he is able to see the good in every situation. He is also optimistic because he is always looking for the silver lining.
What type of person is Gonzalo describe Gonzalo?
Gonzalo is a friendly and helpful person. He is always willing to lend a hand and is always looking for ways to help others.
We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Peter is on the line!

Don't settle for a cookie-cutter essay. Receive a tailored piece that meets your specific needs and requirements.

Check it out