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Gonzalo is one of the important characters in the comedy The Tempest by William Shakespeare. We first meet Gonzalo in the very opening scene when Alonso's ship has been caught in a storm. All those on board the ship are feeling worried. The crew is making frantic efforts to save the ship. Later we find Gonzalo trying to offer comfort to Alonso who is feeling deeply grieved over the supposed death of his son Ferdinand. Here Gonzalo shows his loyalty to his king and his solicitude about the king's welfare. While Sebastian and Antonio feel absolutely unaffected by Alonso's grief, Gonzalo takes pains to console and comfort the king even though the king is in a disconsolate mood. In fact, Gonzalo tries all sorts of methods to relieve Alonso's distress. 

For instance, Gonzalo says that there are people in the world who may have suffered even greater misfortunes than the misfortune which Alonso and his companions have suffered. Then Gonzalo says that the clothes, which he and the other lords are wearing, seem to be as fresh at this time as they were original. Next, Gonzalo says that, if he were the king of this island, he would establish an ideal society here, a society in which there would be no work to be done by anybody, and in which there would be no industry, no agriculture, no crime no wealth no poverty. He further says that in his Commonwealth there would be no need for the use of swords or daggers or guns or any other weapon of war. In his Commonwealth, all the men and the women would be idle, and the women would be innocent and pure. In this Commonwealth of his, says Gonzalo, there would be no sovereignty. Now, Gonzalo's description of his ideal Commonwealth is certainly absurd; and critics have poured scorn upon this description. In the play itself, Sebastian and Antonio make fun of Gonzalo for having described a kind of Commonwealth which is not at all a practical proposition. 

Another point to be noted here is that Gonzalo pays no heed to the many sarcastic and ironic remarks that Sebastian and Antonio make about him in the course of this conversation. Gonzalo knows that Sebastian and Antonio regard him as a kind of buffoon and as a good target of ridicule, but Gonzalo remains utterly indifferent to both of them. In fact, Gonzalo can meet these two men on their own ground and beat them at their own game. He shows his devastating wit by making a sarcastic remark about the flippancy of these two men. Gonzalo is by nature a sympathetic man; he feels particularly sympathetic towards Alonso even though he knows that Alonso had committed a grave injustice towards Prospero many years back. Now when Alonso, Antonio, and Sebastian feel stunned by the harpy's denunciation of them, Gonzalo understands the situation. 

The three evil-doers are now fooling and distracted; Gonzalo now feels sympathetic towards all three, and he also understands why they are feeling distracted. Towards the close of the play, we find Gonzalo's blessing Ferdinand and Miranda. And then Gonzalo sums up the whole story of how Prospero had been expelled from his dukedom. Thus Gonzalo is one of the finest characters in the play. We feel greatly drawn towards him because of his loyalty to his king, his deeply sympathetic nature, his cheerfulness in adversity, his wit and sense of humor, and his essentially religious nature. Even his definition of his ideal Commonwealth does him no discredit. He is merely stating his idea of a utopia, he is merely indulging in kite-flying to divert Alonso,s attention from his grief and also to while away his own time.


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