The Tempest

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Antonio Character Analysis

Prospero's brother. Antonio once plotted to overthrow Prospero and later encourages Sebastian to do the same to Alonso. He is a power-hungry and conniving character, and never shows remorse for his cruel schemes or their consequences. Antonio is noticeably silent in response to his brother's offer of forgiveness at the end of the play.

Antonio Quotes in The Tempest

The The Tempest quotes below are all either spoken by Antonio or refer to Antonio. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Loss and Restoration Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Simon & Schuster edition of The Tempest published in 2004.
Act 1, scene 2 Quotes
Thy false uncle...new created
The creatures that were mine...set all hearts i'th'state
To what tune pleased his ear, that now he was
The ivy which had hid my princely trunk,
And sucked my verdure out on't...
Related Characters: Prospero (speaker), Antonio
Page Number: 1.2.95-106
Explanation and Analysis:

Prospero has decided to tell Miranda the truth about their past, before they were shipwrecked on the island. Prospero has explained that he was once the Duke of Milan, but that he effectively allowed his brother, Antonio, to manage the state; Antonio then betrayed Prospero to take total control of Milan for himself.

In this quote, Prospero explains how Antonio used his cunning political skill to manipulate others into believing whatever "tune pleased his ear." Prospero emphasizes how he and Antonio were initially very close and that he loved and trusted him, but that Antonio used this proximity and trust to undermine Prospero. This description establishes Antonio as a clear villain within the play, motivated not by loyalty and compassion but by self-interest and the desire for power. 

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Act 2, scene 1 Quotes
...She that from whom
We all were sea-swallowed, though some cast again
And by that destiny, to perform an act
Whereof what's past is prologue, what to come
In yours and my discharge.
Related Characters: Antonio (speaker), Sebastian
Related Symbols: The Tempest
Page Number: 2.1.287-290
Explanation and Analysis:

Ariel has entered and played music that has lulled Alonso and Gonzalo to sleep. Meanwhile, Antonio has pointed out to Sebastian that Ferdinand has drowned, and that this means that Sebastian is the heir to the throne of Naples. In this passage, he claims that the upheaval caused by the tempest has provided an opportunity for him and Sebastian to "perform an act" that would lead them to gain power. This speech is a perfect example of the kind of cunning persuasiveness that Antonio used to gain power by betraying Prospero so many years earlier. Rather than telling Sebastian outright of his plan to murder Alonso, he plants ideas slowly in Sebastian's mind, creating the impression that this is all part of a larger "destiny." 

Antonio's comment "what's past is prologue" is one of Shakespeare's many famous lines. It is an example of metadrama, wherein characters in a play refer to the situation they are in as theatre. Clearly, Antonio envisions himself as the playwright, with the power to plan and manipulate events into taking place exactly as he wishes. In this way he is very similar to his brother, Prospero; however, as will be made clear, it is Prospero himself who has the power of the playwright within The Tempest. 

Twenty consciences
That stand 'twixt me and Milan, candied be they,
And melt ere they molest.
Related Characters: Antonio (speaker)
Page Number: 2.1.319-321
Explanation and Analysis:

With Gonzalo and Alonso lulled to sleep by Ariel, Antonio has revealed to Sebastian his plan to murder Alonso. He reminds Sebastian that he has pulled off a similar act before, when he took his brother Prospero's title of Duke of Milan. Antonio boasts that the position of Duke of Milan suits him well, and when Sebastian asks if he is troubled by his conscience, Antonio replies that "twenty consciences" would melt before they bothered him.

This response reveals Antonio to be an arch villain, with no trace of remorse for having murdered his brother and niece (or so he believes). While other characters are presented as having a more complex relationship with ethics and personal gain, Antonio is straightforward and shameless in his desire to seize power for himself. 

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Antonio Character Timeline in The Tempest

The timeline below shows where the character Antonio appears in The Tempest. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, scene 1
Loss and Restoration Theme Icon
Power Theme Icon
The ship cracks. Sailors pray for their lives. Antonio and Sebastian run to be with King Alonso as the ship goes down, while Gonzalo... (full context)
Act 1, scene 2
Power Theme Icon
Magic, Illusion, and Prospero as Playwright Theme Icon
...explains how, while duke, he became wrapped up in reading his books, allowing his brother Antonio to handle the affairs of the state. Antonio proved a skilled politician and gained a... (full context)
Loss and Restoration Theme Icon
Power Theme Icon
Magic, Illusion, and Prospero as Playwright Theme Icon
Antonio persuaded Alonso, the King of Naples and a long-time enemy of Milan, to help him... (full context)
Loss and Restoration Theme Icon
Magic, Illusion, and Prospero as Playwright Theme Icon
Alonso and Antonio arranged for soldiers to kidnap Prospero and Miranda in the middle of the night. The... (full context)
Act 2, scene 1
Loss and Restoration Theme Icon
Magic, Illusion, and Prospero as Playwright Theme Icon
...observation that it is strange how fresh their clothing seems. Meanwhile, off to one side, Antonio and Sebastian look on and mock Gonzalo's positive attitude. (full context)
Colonization Theme Icon
...permitting his daughter to marry an African. Gonzalo scolds Sebastian for his harsh words, and Antonio and Sebastian once more mock Gonzalo again. (full context)
Power Theme Icon
Colonization Theme Icon
...should produce without sweat or endeavor," he says (2.1.144–157). He elaborates this utopian vision while Antonio and Sebastian continue their snide commentary. Alonso remains troubled and disinclined to hear Gonzalo's talk.... (full context)
Loss and Restoration Theme Icon
Power Theme Icon
...enters, invisible, and plays music that makes Gonzalo and Alonso fall asleep. As they sleep, Antonio slyly presents a murder plot to Sebastian. Since Ferdinand is almost definitely dead, Antonio says,... (full context)
Act 3, scene 3
Loss and Restoration Theme Icon
Alonso, Gonzalo, Antonio, and Sebastian enter. They are exhausted after having wandered the island in search of Ferdinand,... (full context)
Loss and Restoration Theme Icon
Power Theme Icon
Magic, Illusion, and Prospero as Playwright Theme Icon
...makes the banquet vanish. Saying that he is an agent of Fate, Ariel condemns Alonso, Antonio, and Sebastian for overthrowing and exiling Prospero and Miranda. He says that the tempest was... (full context)
Loss and Restoration Theme Icon
Power Theme Icon
...has caused the drowning of his son. He resolves to drown himself and runs off. Antonio and Sebastian declare that they will fight this new enemy, and also run off, but... (full context)
Act 5, scene 1
Loss and Restoration Theme Icon
Power Theme Icon
Magic, Illusion, and Prospero as Playwright Theme Icon
...charm. Prospero addresses them—praising Gonzalo for his goodness and loyalty and scolding Alonso, Sebastian, and Antonio for their cruelty, treachery, and greed—and then forgives them. Noting that the spell is lifting,... (full context)
Loss and Restoration Theme Icon
Power Theme Icon
Prospero next addresses Antonio and Sebastian, condemning them for overthrowing and exiling him and for plotting against Alonso. He... (full context)