Essay on Caliban in The Tempest

Essay on Caliban in The Tempest

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Caliban in The Tempest

‘The Tempest’ is the magical story of the ship-wrecked inhabitants of
an island. It deals with many serious themes such as; nature/nurture,
power, magic and treachery but ‘the seriousness is never allowed to
cause disquiet in the audience’. Many of these themes are still
relevant today. The Tempest is, in effect, ‘a fairytale complete with
magical occurrences, suspension of the laws of nature and a happy
ending’.

Caliban is an interesting an important character in ‘The Tempest’. He
brings to the play issues that have a humorous side but are also
serious, for example the treatment of inferiors. Prospero’s treatment
of Caliban is portrayed as being amusing, with over-the-top curses,
but it reflects the poor treatment of servants (or slaves) in
Shakespeare’s time.

From act one scene two we learn about Caliban’s history and how he
came to be on the island and in service to Prospero. We know this
from, ‘This island is mine, by Sycorax my mother . . . the rest o’ th’
island’. From Miranda saying, ‘‘Tis a villain, sir, that I do not love
to look upon,’ we assume that Caliban must be truly bad if someone as
sympathetic and loving as Miranda thinks so badly of him. We also know
that he is resentful of Prospero and Miranda being his masters because
when they call him out to chop wood he says, ‘There’s wood enough
within.’ A director would tell Caliban to say this bitterly and
grumpily. From this scene we also know that Caliban is bitter that
Prospero and Miranda have taken over ‘his’ island, ‘This island’s mine
by Sycorax, my mother, which thou tak’st from me.’ This scene doesn’t
really tell you how Caliban ap...


... middle of paper ...


... are always looking for a leader because although Caliban complains
about Prospero (and even plots to kill him) he still likes the comfort
of having a leader who will look after him. Although Caliban rebels
against Prospero he still stays with him because that is better than
having to fend for himself.

I think that Caliban is possibly the most important character
(excluding Prospero) because he is so different from the other
characters. He offers a light hearted contrast to the vitriolic nature
of characters such as Antonio. Rather than fear of hate Caliban, the
audience should consider him a naïve creature that needs to be led.
Caliban shows a side to human nature that some would want to disown,
and so call him a monster, but I think that he is a faintly
frightening part of the human mind-set that cannot be avoided.

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