Compare And Contrast Of Caliban And Ariel In Shakespeare’s The Tempest

1305 words - 5 pages

In Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, there are two characters who appear to be polar opposites. The characters of Caliban and Ariel both play very important roles in the play. The term caliban is defined as “a brutish or brutalized man,” and the term ariel is defined as “a spirit of the air” (Dictionary). The definitions of these two characters names even show the huge difference in the two characters before readers or viewers even get to know the characters. There are also differences in how the two characters feel about the self-proclaimed king of the island, Prospero. However, regardless of their many differences the one thing that they do have in common is the fact that they are both oppressed by Prospero who has deemed himself king of the island and seek freedom.
Caliban whom we are told is “not honour’d with a human shape,” (1.2.419) is the son of Sycorax who inhabited the island Prospero was banished to. After the death of his mother, Sycorax, Caliban falls under the rule of Prospero and becomes one his servants. Caliban is very different from Ariel in the fact that while Ariel is pleased to serve under Prospero’s rule, Caliban is not. In fact, we find out that Caliban is far from happy to be Prospero’s servant and even plots with two other men to end Prospero’s life. As we discussed in class Caliban is also more of an angry individual than what Ariel seems to be and this comes from the fact that Caliban believes he is the rightful king of the island and that Prospero had robbed him of what was his, which we find out when he says that he is “subject to a tyrant, a sorcerer, that by his cunning hath cheated me of the island” (3.2.40-41). Ariel, who we are told in act one, scene two was the old servant of Caliban’s mother Sycorax, is rescued by Prospero after her death and in turn is more accepting of him and gladly obeys the orders he receives from him without a second thought. I believe that Ariel is the way that he is because he believes that he is indebted to Prospero because Prospero rescued him and because Prospero also lets him know that he will eventually grant him his freedom one day after he has served his time.
There is also a difference in how Prospero treats the two of these characters as well as what kind of orders he gives the two of them to complete around the island. It appears that he sends Ariel on more important tasks and treats him in a more human like manner than he does Caliban. While reading this play I could not help but to think of the saying “you reap what you sow.” It seems to me like Prospero treats the two servants in whatever way they go about completing the tasks he gives them to do and how willing they are to get their assigned jobs done. While Ariel is more willing and fond of Prospero, Caliban is not. Therefore Prospero makes Caliban do a lot more labor type of work opposed to the magical tasks he gives Ariel to complete. Regardless of the differences in assigned tasks for the two, Prospero still treats both...

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