Prospero and Caliban of William Shakespeare's The Tempest Essay

Prospero and Caliban of William Shakespeare's The Tempest Essay

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Prospero and Caliban of William Shakespeare's The Tempest  

Within The Tempest, characters such as Prospero and Caliban share an intimate connection. Without some kind of malevolent force motivating the action of the play, none of the major characters would come into contact with each other. A violent storm, formed by Prospero's magic, subjects the foreign characters to the might of his mysterious power. Issues of control become a central part of The Tempest. One way in which this is highlighted is through the relationship between Prospero and Caliban, his bestial servant. Their relationship does not utilize the conventional imagery of those who hold power versus those who do not. Rather, Caliban comes to symbolize a physical manifestation of a darker part of Prospero's personality.

Early in the play, Caliban is described as a beast-like figure who lived on the island before any foreign intrusion. Prospero and Miranda found Caliban and his mother living on the island when they themselves became shipwrecked there. The first words introducing Caliban describe him as the son of the witch Sycorax who was banished to the island. Caliban is described as someone who is,"not honored with/A human shape....[a] Dull thing..." (I. ii. 283-6) Though Caliban is referenced here as a figure of disgust and contempt, Prospero chooses to use the word "dull" in his description of this creature. Even before he is introduced, Caliban becomes labeled with imagery of darkness, or at the least, lessened brightness. This labeling comes from Prospero, who has shown the power to control clouds and can cause storms to cover up the sky if he so chooses. Prospero has the power to decide when the sun will shine, and when there is to be darkness, and rai...

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.... Her imminent marriage at the end of the play causes Prospero to open his eyes to the world once again, and readies himself to rejoin society. This realization of the need for darkness as well as light allows Caliban the chance of forgiveness at the closing of the play. Caliban says,"


Ay, that I will; and I'll be wise hereafter

And seek for grace. What a thrice-double ass

Was I, to take this drunkard for a god

And worship this dull fool! (V. I. 295-8)

Shedding off his "dullness" in favor of a chance at redemption, Caliban takes a few steps closer to understanding the way Prospero views the world. It is Prospero?s acceptance of Caliban?s darkness that finally allows Caliban to have something in common with the world of light, and desire to seek grace.

Works Cited:

Shakespeare, William. The Tempest. New York: Penguin, 1970 [1623].


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