The Oppression of Caliban in The Tempest Essay

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The Oppression of Caliban in The Tempest

William Shakespeare's, "The Tempest," provides insight into the hierarchy of command and servitude by order of nature. This play uses the relationship between its characters to display the control of the conqueror over the conquered. It also shows how society usually places the undesirable members at the bottom of the chain of command, even though they may be entitled to a higher social status. For example, the beginning of the play opens with a scene on a boat in the midst of a terrible storm. The boatswain, who is under the command of the royal party, attempts to keep the boat from sinking.

Members of the royal party, however, persist in interfering with his duties. The boatswain
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Caliban's monstrosity,

however, out-Herods Herod"(Draper 89).

According to the other inhabitants of the island, Caliban is a monster. He is a symbol of what they never want to become. Caliban reminds them to act as though they are worthy of their high social status. He is the painfully realistic entity around whom the other rulers on the island silently rally in order to maintain a social balance. They abhor him but desperately desire to possess at the same time. On a narrower scale, the oppression of the underdog is obvious in the undesirable Caliban and his relationship to Prospero, Miranda, Ariel and Ferdinand.

Prospero, the self-appointed king of the island upon which everyone eventually becomes shipwrecked, immediately oppresses Caliban and claims him as his slave, even though Caliban was the original inhabitant of the island. Prospero and his daughter are technically guests in Caliban's home. Caliban is the son of the devil and Sycorax, a witch. Prospero uses Caliban's unsavory origin as an excuse to enslave him. He claims that he is a bad seed, and he deserves a life of servitude. He never actually justifies the situation with a logical explanation, so he must use whatever information he can think of as a poor excuse to exploit Caliban for his own self-propagation. Prospero is even bold enough to suggest that by enslaving Caliban, he is actually extending charity towards him. He feels that
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