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Caliban's Role Essay

1678 words - 7 pages

Shakespeare's Tempest:"Caliban is the core of the play;…he is the natural man against whom the cultivated man is measured" Examine Caliban's role.In true Shakespearian fashion "The Tempest" is full of wonderfully complex and sometimes ambiguous characters that add to the growing and powerful themes. While it is impossible to deny that Prospero is really the centre of the play, since all the other characters relate to one another through him, it is Caliban with only a hundred lines that I found my focus of interest lying. Whether Caliban is a monster, a victim of colonialism, or he represents some other disadvantaged element of society depends entirely on the audience (for a case could ...view middle of the document...

.. took pains to make thee speak" with the impassioned speech:"You taught me language, and my profit on'tIs I know how to curse. The red plague rid youFor learning me your language!"Caliban in this speech is clever in his dismissal for not only does he display disrespect toward the language she loves by only crediting it with the ability to express hate- "curse" but he also is intentionally grammatically incorrect by using "learning" and not "teaching"; obviously intentional since he is aware of "taught" from previous line" This is significant due to contrast with Prospero's narrative. To him Caliban remains ungrateful for the help and civilisation he has received from the Milanese Duke. Language, for Prospero and Miranda, is a means to know oneself, and Caliban has in their view shown nothing but scorn for this precious gift. However, for Caliban this 'gift' is nothing more than a reminder of how he is different from Miranda and Prospero and how they have changed him from what he was. This relationship of the coloniser and the colonised is significant for it allows questions about the righteousness of Prospero and the extent under which Caliban is what he is due to nature or the rebellion to what he feels is his mistreatment and severe brutality.The relationship, however, is more complicated than Caliban just being the suppressed slave of Prospero for when he first came to the island Caliban's relationship dynamic was much different:"When thou cam'st firstThou strok'st me, and made of me…And would teach me howTo name the bigger light… And I loved thee"It was Caliban's attempted attack and rape of Prospero's daughter Miranda that resulted in Prospero's monstrous view of Caliban, and the further resulted change in Caliban's social status from willing servant to wronged slave:"All the charmsOf Sycorax- toads, beetles, bats light on you!For I am all the subjects that you have,Which first was mine own king; and here you sty meIn this hard rock, whiles you do keep from meThe rest o'th'island"Caliban is deeply wounded by Prospero's change in attitude toward him for he does not see that he had done anything wrong. In Caliban's opinion, his attempted rape was natural behaviour and even says that he not been stopped he would have "Peopled else/ This isle with Calibans" This is a good example at showing Caliban's much simpler view of life. He does not worry about the morality- or immortality- of his actions, and instead looks at them from a purely physical nature. In many ways Caliban is an innocent- innocent too, of society's rules and regulations- reacting to emotional and physical needs without the ability to think through and fully understand the events and people who surround him. He is uneducated and reacts to his surrounding much like and animal would- a child of nature. This raises questions in the readers mind as to whether Prospero is right in judging Caliban by society's decree of behaviours- a decree Caliban has never been...

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