The short extract taken from “The Tempest” helps us learn a lot about the characters Prospero and Caliban and their relationship within the play.
Prospero, when we first meet him, emerges as a very controlling and dominant figure on the island, mainly because he refers to the character Caliban as his “slave”. This shows us that Prospero must be a powerful man and that he has authority over the island and its people. Prospero uses his power to abuse Caliban, and he threatens him with phrases such as “thou shalt have cramps, side-stitches...” if he does not comply with his orders. But when Caliban refuses to obey him, Prospero resorts to insults in order to control him because he tells Miranda, his daughter, “But, as ‘tis/We cannot miss him” meaning ...view middle of the document...
In retaliation he taunts Prospero and Miranda for teaching him their language, which he now uses to curse them: “You taught me language, and my profit on’t/Is, I know how to curse”.
But Caliban knows that Prospero is far too powerful and his stubbornness relents by the end of the extract “ I must obey”. In spite of this, Caliban comes across as a strong and defiant individual who is also bitter and twisted which is revealed through his curses and insults towards Prospero. “The red plague rid you/For learning me your language!”
Prospero and Caliban’s relationship is that of a slave and a master. Is this respect it is very conventional, meaning that the more dominant character, Prospero, orders and abuses the lesser or weaker character, Caliban. But on the other hand, Caliban is never afraid to act out against his oppressor, which is unusual for a slave. The language between the two individuals shows how much contempt they have for one another, because they constantly insult each other and fight over the island.
The issues raised in the extract are predominantly down to two main reasons: the island and Miranda. The island is important because both characters crave the power of being its ruler, and thus everything that comes with it e.g. slaves. They both believe that the other has betrayed him in someway, Caliban believes that Prospero stole the island from him, while Miranda is brought into the picture during the latter part of the extract when Prospero says, “thou didst seek to violate the honour of my child” which he says is his reason for his contempt of Caliban. Thus, both parties are caught in this struggle for power over the island, but inevitably Prospero, being the stronger and more forceful of the two, succeeds.