In the play, The Tempest, by William Shakespeare, Caliban is an important character. Caliban is a character who plays as a victim to be pitied, as well as a villain to watch out for. In this essay, I will show clearly how Caliban is a victim and villain by exploring his relationship with Prospero, Miranda, and the island.
The Tempest, the play written by Shakespeare in the 17th century, has invited numerous critics over centuries to interpret the text based on their contemporary cultural context. This allows the birth of numerous adaptations as a method of literary criticism. Julie Taymor’s version of The Tempest and Aime Cesaire’s version of A Tempest are examples of adaptation as a method of literary criticism. First, Aime Cesaire takes a post-colonial perspective on The Tempest by Shakespeare. This is evident with his characterization of Caliban. Cesaire’s characterize Caliban as strong and resistance individual reflecting author’s philosophy of colonization. Caliban reflects people of a colonized who suffers by the domination of colonial power. This representation
Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest is set on a mysterious island surrounded by the ocean. Here the magician Prospero is ruler of the isle with his two servants Caliban and Ariel. Caliban is the abrasive, foul-mouthed son of the evil witch Sycorax. When Prospero was shipwrecked on the island Prospero treated him kindly but their relationship changed when Caliban tried to rape Prospero's daughter, Miranda. Caliban then became Prospero's unwilling servant. Caliban serves his master out of fear Prospero's wrath. Prospero's other servant Ariel is a graceful spirit who has courtesy and charm. Ariel has put her services at Prospero's disposal out of gratitude for his kind
The Tempest is a classic example of Shakespeare’s dichotomized notions of right and wrong within the context of racial inherencies, a social commentary of the colonialism of the New World. An important theme in the play is the racial differentiation between Caliban and the other antagonists, primarily, Prospero, who comes to the island and enslaves Caliban to enforce his own rule. This relationship, as portrayed through the play, is a reflection of the historical social and racial tensions that existed between the colonizers of New Europe and the Native Americans and is illustrated through the language employed by Shakespeare and the interactions that take place between the characters. The Tempest
Prospero's relationship with Caliban differs from that of Prospero and Ariel's. Prospero does not view Caliban as a being who could be his equal. He is blinded by his prejudice against Caliban's appearance and manners. Caliban is portrayed in a negative light. He can be seen as the depiction of the victims of colonial expansion. Although Prospero seeks this righteousness, he both mistreats and insults Caliban, who ultimately attempts to kill Prospero. In comparison to Ariel who acts only when commanded by Prospero, Caliban is wild. He refuses to be colonized and tamed. This can be taken as a reference by Shakespeare towards those who were
The role of language in Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest” is quite significant. To Miranda and Prospero the use of language is a means to knowing oneself. Caliban does not view language in the same light. Prospero taught Caliban to speak, but instead of creating the feeling of empowerment from language, Caliban reacts in insurrectionary manner. Language reminds him how different he is from Miranda and Prospero, and also how they have changed him. It also reminds him of how he was when he wasn’t a slave. He resents Prospero for “Civilising” him, because in doing so he took away his freedom.
If Shakespeare's play does comment upon European exploration and colonization in the Western Hemisphere, however, The Tempest does not contain a critique of exploitation, but, instead, an apology for it. Caliban was initially treated as an ignorant child and only put under wraps after he attempted to force himself upon the completely innocent Miranda. The charge of "rape" is made more credible in having Miranda pass judgment upon Caliban whom she calls an "Abhorr'd slave" (I, ii., l.352). Unlike our current understanding of European colonialism, Prospero puts Caliban in chains because he has earned the status of
The Tempest is a play that has a theme of nature and civilization. It has a strong theme that deals with issues of colonizer and the colonized. While to many people this play may simply be just a play, it really has a story of what happens when nature and civilization collide. The character Caliban represents a being of pure nature. The character Prospero is civilization. These characters can also be seen as the colonized and the colonizer. The relationship they have is very complex and is a constant struggle, much like any relationship between a colonizer and colonized. It questions what is pure nature? Is it savage and monster like, as Caliban is? In this paper I will examine the relationship between Caliban
Throughout William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Caliban, as the native, is treated as an inferior by Prospero and Stephano, the colonists. However, comparing The Tempest to European colonialist attitudes in the Elizabethan era provokes a 21st century audience to re-examine why Caliban is perceived as a monster. Caliban’s addiction to alcohol, his worship of Stephano, and his plot to kill Prospero are perceived as savage, yet upon further examination, are merely a way of coping with his fate, rather than a display of his intrinsically primitive nature. Parallels between Elizabethan colonialism and Caliban’s relationship with Prospero and Stephano make evident the fact that Caliban is inherently noble and the true victim of The Tempest.
Caliban is treated as a slave of Prospero’s who is constantly tortured with Prospero’s magic. He contends that, “This island’s mine by Sycorax, my mother, which thou tak’st from me,” (1.2.396-397) implying that Prospero had no rightful claim to the island. This was an oft used point against colonialism of the time, however it is swiftfully countered by Caliban’s own words of the good that Prospero brought to Caliban. Caliban claims Prospero, “Strok’st me and made much of me, wouldst give me water with berries in’t, and teach me how to name the bigger light and how the less, that burn by day and night. And then I loved thee, and showed thee all the qualities o’ th’ isle,” (1.2.398-403). What Shakespeare is conveying here is the classic reasoning of Europeans as the saviors of native people. With Prospero bringing comfort to Caliban in the beginning and saving him from the witch Sycorax, Caliban should feel lucky Prospero came to this island. Any punishment brought upon Caliban is deserved in the eyes of Prospero, Shakespeare, and the audience Shakespeare is writing
“According to Theodor Elze (1889) the island in The Tempest is Pantalaria, whose natural sights correspond with the descriptions in the play, and its nearby town of African coast Calibia, served as an inspiration to Shakespeare. Another explanation for the name Caliban is kalebon, an Arabic word for “vile dog”, common reference for North African creature in England at that period. Dutch scholar Albert Kluyver, would eliminate the cannibal, as it did not exist in English language with the same meaning as in Shakespeare`s time, instead he believes it to mean “black” in gypsy language. It is very probable that Shakespeare addressed African slaves, since Prospero himself in the play, observes Caliban as “filth”, something inhuman.” (Vaughan and Vaughan). The relationship between Prospero and Caliban could be Shakespeare`s way of describing the treatment of African slaves by European feudalists. This marvellous literature piece is a testimony of slavery and its roots. Even more, few years after Shakespeare died, the biggest export of African slaves took place and racism was imprinted in people`s subconscious. Shakespeare describes the horrible manner African slaves were treated and the aggressiveness by which they responded to that treatment, since Caliban could be a victim or aggressor, since he tried to rape Miranda. As illiterate and simple creature,
Caliban’s concession of Prospero’s ultimate power as master evidences the way in which slavery has so effectively conditioned his thoughts and behavior into continually being those of a subordinate being. Caliban’s lifestyle has been one
The Tempest is believed to be the final play written by English playwright William Shakespeare (Arnold 2009: 1). This allegorical play takes place on an exotic island and describes the master-slave relationship between Prospero the virtuous ruler and Caliban the ugly evil. Approximately three and a half centuries later, French poet and author Aimé Césaire, who objected to colonialism and was concerned about post-colonial issues, published A Tempest (‘Une Tempête’), a post-colonial adaptation of Shakespeare’s work.
“To what extent can it be argued that genocide and revolution are central themes in Caribbean History?”
Shakespeare demonstrates that inequality exists in society, and that it is human nature to fight for one’s rights and freedoms. When Prospero conquers the island, he enslaves the native, Caliban, who is the son of the evil witch Sycorax