Like many figures in Shakespeare’s plays, Antonio serves as a usurper who desires the title of a more powerful sibling. Often this archetype reflects not only a disruption to the status quo, but also the shifting tides of an evolving society, and a desire to implement change by reconstructing existing power structures from the ground up. Even when Antonio’s own circumstances change greatly upon being shipwrecked, he cannot help but scheme at every opportunity, with politics and power on the mind. His half-baked plan to coerce Sebastian into killing Alonsno is already predicated on a lie, and is only hastily covered up when their companions wake.
In the midst of Antonio’s pursuit of power, The Tempest draws a parallel between him and his brother Prospero. Both spend the entirety of the play concocting schemes and manipulating the other players with his own resources. Furthermore, their relationship parallels the relationship between the play’s other set of brothers. Not content with merely usurping his own kin, Antonio encourages Sebastian to do the same to his brother Alonso, the king of Naples. In the end, Antonio’s plot with Sebastian against Alonso doesn’t come to fruition, and Prospero demands the return of his dukedom. Though Prospero forgives him for the betrayal, Antonio is noticeably silent and indeed doesn’t speak again for the rest of the play, perhaps a sign that Antonio is not finished scheming.