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The Role of Language in Shakespeare's Play The Tempest Essay

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The Role of Language in Shakespeare's Play The Tempest 1 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. Language and knowledge is the key to power on the island. Prospero is a well educated man,…show more content…
The red plague rid you For learning me your language! (I.ii: 363-65) is quite confusing. Why would he want to curse the man who taught him how to speak? There are a number of reasons for this. Caliban can now comprehend his diverseness. He also feels trapped by the language because he sees the ability to speak and understand Prospero’s language as the instrument which took away his freedom. Also language symbolizes civility. He did not know before Prospero and Miranda’s arrival of class and race differences. Through “culture” he has learned of discrimination, and he is being discriminated against. This makes him a pariah on his own island. The meaning of Caliban’s words is that, he explains that he resents being taught to speak, and that he can only see one advantage for him to be able to do so, and that is the ability to curse, because with that ability he can curse Prospero whom he begrudges the most. It is ironic that the ‘savage’ and unattractive person on he island, who is sometimes described as “man, savage, ape, water-beast, dragon and semi-devil – Caliban is all
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