The Purpose of Caliban in The Tempest Essay

1017 Words 5 Pages
The Purpose of Caliban in The Tempest

One of the indispensable themes displayed in The Tempest is the duality of nature and society. This is made apparent through the character of Caliban. Caliban is a dis-figured fish-like creature that inhabits the island where the play The Tempest, takes place.

Caliban is the son a witch-hag, and the only native on the island. In Caliban's first speech, he suggests that Prospero stole the island from him. (Act 1, Scene 1, line 331-342)

"This island's mine by Sycorax my mother

Which thou tak'st from me. When thou camest first,

Caliban is a servant to Prospero, the right duke of Milan. Caliban is a monstrous, and ugly creature. He is often referred to as
…show more content…
He hears thunder and hides; he fears that Prospero may have heard him.

Caliban is disliked among the island. He is repeatedly mocked and tormented. In Act 2, scene 2, Trinculo repeatedly makes jokes of Caliban. Caliban does not like this and 3 different time replies, (Act 2 scene 2 line 61)

"Do not torment me prithee"

Although in a drunken state, Caliban shows a sensitive and amusing side. He sonnets poetry, while Trinculo mocks him and thinks he is ridiculous. (Act 3 sc 1 line 114-115)

"I have seen thee in herm and I do adore thee

My mistress show'd me thee, and thy dog, and the bush"

This sensitive and noble side is briefly visible to the audience. Both, Prospero and Miranda see his noble side, but do not acknowledge it at all. Although we briefly see a sensitive side to Caliban, it is turned to gray when he becomes ignorant.

Caliban turns hate and dislike into murderous and devious plans. Caliban had a plan to plot out Prospero's death. He informs the others that Prospero takes a nap, and that it would be best to kill him in his sleep. We also learn here that he is similar to Miranda. Miranda has never seen another man except her father, and Caliban has never seen another woman except his mother. In some ways this is ironic. (Act 3, scene 2 line 75-89)

"Why, as I told thee, tis a custom with hime

I' Th' afternoon to sleep. There thou mayst brain
Open Document