Free Tempest Essays: The Comic Sub-plot

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The Importance of the Comic Sub-plot in The Tempest

The comic sub-plot has various uses for the play. It brings light

relief&ndash without it, it would be a very dramatic play, if not boring.

As because Prospero controls the whole island we know that nothing can

really happen that he doesn&rsquot want to, so the play is lacking

tension and the comic sub-plot prevents it from being a very boring play.

Drunkness is amusing anyway, they fall about and say stupid things which

is entertaining for us, plus this is Caliban's first drink and we

recognise the feelings he expresses for this&lsquo celestial liquor&rsquo

and makes it all the more funny. That Caliban sees these two fools as

kings also makes it amusing&ndash&lsquo I prithee, be my God&rsquo as

Trinculo says&lsquo A most ridiculous monster, to make a wonder of a poor

drunkard!&rsquo. When he sees what they are later he is disgusted with

himself&ndash&lsquo What a thrice-double ass Was I, to take this drunkard

for a god, And worship this dull fool!&rsquo

As well as providing humour, this trust of Caliban&rsquos echoes his

former trust for Prospero. He hasn&rsquot learned from when Prospero

turned on him, his naïvety shows through his trust and adoration of the

wine. Through the&lsquo aside&rsquo comments of Trinculo and Stephano we

know they are using and teasing him. Its in this situation we feel almost

sorry for Caliban, this&lsquo abhorred slave&rsquo, this&lsquo

demi-devil&rsquo is still very trusting and doesn&rsquot he have reason

to hate Prospero? He is an animal, with animal instincts and cannot be

trained otherwise. Though Prospero is understandably angry that he

tried&lsquo to violate the honour&rsquo of Miranda, but he is overly

harsh with him. The sub-plot shows us how Caliban is trusting yet again,

and we can see how affectionate he would have been to Prospero when he

first arrived on the island, and how understandably bitter he would be

when his master turned on him.

This is an echo of the theme of usurpation, Prospero usurped from his

dukedom, Caliban usurped from his island&ndash Prospero tries to get his

dukedom back and Caliban tries to get his island back at the first

opportunity. It would seem at the end that justice has prevailed,

forgiveness over vengeance, good over evil, but really just Prospero has

prevailed, he successfully usurped and successfully got un-usurped.

Caliban is shown as the most naïve of the three, but he is the cleverest.

He knows Prospero&rsquos power is in his books, he knows that the robes

Stephano and Trinculo are duped by are&lsquo but trash&rsquo and above

all he speaks some of the most beautiful poetry of the play.

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