The Tempest

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Sebastian Character Analysis

Alonso's brother. Sebastian is easily persuaded by Antonio to try to murder his brother so that he can become king. It is later revealed that he also played a part in the overthrow of Prospero. Though Sebastian does inquire of Antonio whether his conscience bothers him, he never expresses remorse for his plans.

Sebastian Quotes in The Tempest

The The Tempest quotes below are all either spoken by Sebastian or refer to Sebastian. 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 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. 

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Sebastian Character Timeline in The Tempest

The timeline below shows where the character Sebastian 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 prays for... (full context)
Act 2, scene 1
Loss and Restoration Theme Icon
Magic, Illusion, and Prospero as Playwright Theme Icon
...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
Francisco, another lord, also tries to comfort Alonso. Sebastian, on the other hand, lays the blame for Ferdinand's death on Alonso, saying that it... (full context)
Power Theme Icon
Colonization Theme Icon
...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. Gonzalo then... (full context)
Loss and Restoration Theme Icon
Power Theme Icon
...Gonzalo and Alonso fall asleep. As they sleep, Antonio slyly presents a murder plot to Sebastian. Since Ferdinand is almost definitely dead, Antonio says, Alonso's death would make Sebastian King of... (full context)
Power Theme Icon
Magic, Illusion, and Prospero as Playwright Theme Icon
Sebastian is convinced to go ahead with the plot, and Sebastian and Antonio draw their swords.... (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, whom Alonso... (full context)
Loss and Restoration Theme Icon
Power Theme Icon
Magic, Illusion, and Prospero as Playwright Theme Icon
...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 nature's tool... (full context)
Loss and Restoration Theme Icon
Power Theme Icon
...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 in pursuit... (full context)
Act 5, scene 1
Loss and Restoration Theme Icon
Power Theme Icon
Magic, Illusion, and Prospero as Playwright Theme Icon
...by Prospero's 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... (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 goes on,... (full context)