Caliban is one of the primary antagonists in William Shakespeare's play The Tempest. It is impossible to understand the Tempest without first understanding the character of Caliban. Through the exploration of the character of Caliban the reader gains an understanding of his importance within the play and that he is simply not just black and white, there is also a great deal of grey. It is the characters ambiguity that enables him to be human inside although appearing bestial on the outside.
Caliban is a great example of a character being much more than one dimensional, almost to the point of being nearly a real person. While there is a great emphasis on the pure and the good, everyone has within them a darker side. Which is that of depravity and evil thoughts. This is what makes us human. It is how we deal with these thoughts and balance them that makes us a person. It is also the way in which this almost, 'alter ego' manifests itself to both to yourself and the rest of mankind, that distinguishes between good and bad people:
'This thing of darkness, I must acknowledge mine'
Arguably, The Tempest is a play that focuses upon the character of Prospero and his power to punish verses his power to forgive. Many scholars believe that the play is also nearly an autobiographical work, written towards the end of Shakespeare's literary career. This idea is reinforced throughout the play, especially towards the end and in the epilogue:
?...my ending is despair,
Unless I be relieved by prayer.?
?I'll break my staff,
Bury it in certain fathoms in the earth,
And deeper than did ever plummet sound
I'll drown my book?
Therefore, our understanding of Caliban's position in th...
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...our understanding of Caliban and The Tempest as a play is therefore one of great importance.
He puts an angle on Prospero's character that other aspects of forgiveness and that of the wronged Duke simply do not cover. He shows up Prospero's faults and the fact that Prospero is only human, capable of anger, hatred, and punishing those who are guilty in his eyes.
Bevington, David. The Necessary Shakespeare Third Edition. United States: Pearson
Education, Inc., 2009. Print.
Cengage, Gale, Michael L. LaBlanc Ed.” The Tempest (Vol. 72) - Introduction." Shakespearean Criticism. Vol. 72, 2006. eNotes.com. 2003. 29 Oct, 2009.
Shakespeare, William. The Tempest. The Complete Works of Shakespeare. Ed. David Bevington. 5th ed. New York: Pearson Longman, 2004. 1574-603.
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