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The Purpose of Caliban in The Tempest

The Purpose of Caliban in The Tempest

One of the indispensable themes displayed in The Tempest is the duality of nature and society. This is made apparent through the character of Caliban. Caliban is a dis-figured fish-like creature that inhabits the island where the play The Tempest, takes place.

Caliban is the son a witch-hag, and the only native on the island. In Caliban's first speech, he suggests that Prospero stole the island from him. (Act 1, Scene 1, line 331-342)

"This island's mine by Sycorax my mother

Which thou tak'st from me. When thou camest first,

Caliban is a servant to Prospero, the right duke of Milan. Caliban is a monstrous, and ugly creature. He is often referred to as servant-monster by others characters. At the start of the play, Caliban curses at the authority of Prospero because his dislikes him. (Act 1 scene 2 line 321-324)

"As wicked dew as e'er my mother brush'd

with raven's feather from unwholesome fen

Drop on both! A south-west blow on ye

And blister all o'er"

Although Caliban has a foolish tongue, he is very knowledgeable on the island. Prospero recognizes his survival on the island but shows no respect for this. (Act 1 scene 2 line 366-371)

""Hag-seed, hence!

Fetch us in fuel; and be quick, thou'rt best,"

Caliban shows inconsideration and greed when he attempts to rape Miranda. Miranda is Prospero's only daughter. Caliban admits to the accusations of the attempt of rape, and states that he would have populated the island with his offspring. (Act 1 scene 2, line 349)

"O ho, O ho! Would't had been done!

Thou didst prevent me; I had people else

This isle with Calibans"

Caliban is intimat...

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... creature. Caliban is a character that learned to survive, just as every one does through life.

Works Cited and Consulted:

Davidson, Frank. "The Tempest: An Interpretation." In The Tempest: A Casebook. Ed. D.J. Palmer. London: Macmillan & Co. Ltd., 1968. 225.

Kermode, Frank. Introduction. The Tempest. By William Shakespeare. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1958. xlii.

Palmer, D. J. (Editor) The Tempest - A Selection of Critical Essays London: MacMillan Press Ltd., 1977.

Shakespeare, William. The Tempest. The Riverside Shakespeare. Ed. G. Blakemore Evans, et. al. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1974.

Stott, Jon et al. The Harbrace Anthology of Literature. Second Ed. Harcourt Brace and Company, 1998.

Solomon, Andrew. "A Reading of the Tempest." In Shakespeare's Late Plays. Ed. Richard C. Tobias and Paul G. Zolbrod. Athens: Ohio UP, 1974. 232.
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