The Juxtaposition Of Caliban 's Mental And Physical State Throughout The Tempest By William Shakespeare

The Juxtaposition Of Caliban 's Mental And Physical State Throughout The Tempest By William Shakespeare

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The juxtaposition of Caliban’s mental and physical state throughout the “Tempest” hints that this paradoxical statement may be true. The ambivalence of Caliban’s “brutal” and “sensitive” being comes predominantly, but not consistently, through the medium of his physical appearance and his diction respectively. This “sensitive” aspect of Caliban is amplified further when his character is analysed from the viewpoint of the modern era. These audiences are far more sympathetic to this “abhorred slave” than that of the Shakespearian era as a result of the extensive colonial expansion of the British Empire that took place during this time, concluding in audiences being far more hostile to any natives, which the character of Caliban is. It is Shakespeare’s beautiful yet subtle blend of Caliban’s characteristics coupled with the post-colonial viewpoint that has resulted in the character being one of the most perplexing in the “Tempest”.
From the offset the name of Caliban resonates brutality due to its strong link with that of a cannibal, which was spelt with single ‘n’ in Shakespeare’s day. The fact Caliban is rarely referred to by name but rather by more insulting words such as: “slave”, “devil” and “beast” not only highlights clearly his barbaric nature but also his lack of identity, which a name epitomises, thus completely separating Caliban from any human resemblance and allowing Shakespeare to characterise this “misshapen knave” as truly “brutal”. It is this uncertainty, due to his lack of identity, which shrouds the character of Caliban and in turn instinctively forces the audience to associate Caliban with the rumoured brutality of natives of any uncharted island, as the island is in the Tempest. It is therefore clear in the time ...

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...fecting imagery in the play, reminding the audience that Caliban really did occupy the island before Prospero came, and that he may be right in thinking his enslavement to be monstrously unjust”. It is therefore clear an argument can be presented for the case that Caliban is “oddly sensitive” during the course of the play.
Throughout the “Tempest” there is evidence to concluding that Caliban does indeed have a sensitive side and in this post-colonial society this aspect of his character is more apparent than during the plays first performances. However, there is a much larger proportion of events during the “Tempest” that suggest Caliban is more “brutal”. It is therefore safe to conclude that the statement “Undoubtedly brutal, yet oddly sensitive.” Is correct. Yet, with the evidence presented by Shakespeare Caliban’s brutality significantly outweighs his sensitivity.

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