Essay on Compare and Contrast of Caliban and Ariel in Shakespeare’s The Tempest

Essay on Compare and Contrast of Caliban and Ariel in Shakespeare’s The Tempest

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In Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, there are two characters who appear to be polar opposites. The characters of Caliban and Ariel both play very important roles in the play. The term caliban is defined as “a brutish or brutalized man,” and the term ariel is defined as “a spirit of the air” (Dictionary). The definitions of these two characters names even show the huge difference in the two characters before readers or viewers even get to know the characters. There are also differences in how the two characters feel about the self-proclaimed king of the island, Prospero. However, regardless of their many differences the one thing that they do have in common is the fact that they are both oppressed by Prospero who has deemed himself king of the island and seek freedom.
Caliban whom we are told is “not honour’d with a human shape,” (1.2.419) is the son of Sycorax who inhabited the island Prospero was banished to. After the death of his mother, Sycorax, Caliban falls under the rule of Prospero and becomes one his servants. Caliban is very different from Ariel in the fact that while Ariel is pleased to serve under Prospero’s rule, Caliban is not. In fact, we find out that Caliban is far from happy to be Prospero’s servant and even plots with two other men to end Prospero’s life. As we discussed in class Caliban is also more of an angry individual than what Ariel seems to be and this comes from the fact that Caliban believes he is the rightful king of the island and that Prospero had robbed him of what was his, which we find out when he says that he is “subject to a tyrant, a sorcerer, that by his cunning hath cheated me of the island” (3.2.40-41). Ariel, who we are told in act one, scene two was the old servant of Caliban’s mother Syco...


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...eedom to him again.
Overall, the two characters Caliban and Ariel both play major parts in The Tempest. However, they could not be more unalike. They are treated in completely different ways by their master Prospero, they are required to take on different types of tasks, and the only similarity that seems to link the two of them together is the fact that the both desire to gain their freedom from his rule. Also the personalities of the two characters differ greatly. While Ariel seems to be more naïve, Caliban seems to realize the true intentions of Prospero and his quest for power over the island during the play.



Works Cited

"Dictionary.com." Dictionary.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2014.
Shakespeare, William, and Robert Woodrow Langbaum. The Tempest: With New and Updated Critical Essays and A Revised Bibliography. New York, NY, USA: Signet Classic, 1998. Print.

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