Missing Works Cited
The Tempest, considered by many to be Shakespeare’s farewell to the theatre, has of all his plays the most remarkable interpretive richness. The exceptional flexibility of Shakespeare’s stage is given particular prominence in The Tempest due to its originality and analytic potential, in particular in the presentation of one of his most renowned and disputed characters, Caliban. Superficially portrayed in the play as a most detestable monster, Caliban does not evoke much sympathy. However, on further examination Caliban presents himself as an extremely complex character and soon his apparent monstrosity is not so obviously transparent. The diverse range of presentations of him on stage exemplifies Caliban’s multifarious character.
Although Caliban attempts to rape Miranda, appearing initially to be nothing more complex than a degenerate beast and so should be presented as such, Caliban is in fact a human being and not a monster, misunderstood only because Prospero, the colonizer, has unjustly depicted him as being merely a primitive native.
At the time of The Tempest, settlers began moving out of Britain to colonize America, Africa and parts of Asia. Laying a claim to overseas territory was becoming increasingly important to national identity and power. The voyages of Christopher Columbus and Vasco da Gama sparked what has come to be known as the age of European Expansion, when England and the rest of Europe began devoting their energies to exploring and developing markets overseas. When The Tempest was written, these immensely important social events were on the top of everyone’s mind, including, presumably, Shakespeare’s. It is for this reason that the play is often considered an allegory of European discovery and in particular, colonization: Prospero is deemed the colonizer of the island and Caliban and Ariel the colonized. In the introduction to Critical Essays on Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’, Editor Alden T. Vaughan describes how the commonly accepted view of Prospero’s character was that of “a wise and rational ruler [who] could govern the forces of disorder that undermine the family and the state”. Indeed, before the beginning of the nineteenth century Prospero was presented as thus, while Caliban as an abominable, inhuman beast. As the play drew a greater audience worldwide however, that view began to change and post-colonial interpretations began to present themselves in which Caliban was cast in a more empathic light. These critics noted how easily the figure of Caliban converges with the image of the cannibal, the mythical ‘savage’ whom many European travellers claimed to have encountered. The name Caliban even seems to be a pointed anagram of ‘cannibal’. Since that time, views have changed on the savagery of those natives and with it, on the savagery of Caliban.
In the 1978 Royal Shakespeare Company production of The Tempest, David Suchet played a humanized, though exploited, ‘third-world’...