Relationship between Prospero, Caliban and Ariel in The Tempest
Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest is set on a mysterious island surrounded by the ocean. Here the magician Prospero is ruler of the isle with his two servants Caliban and Ariel. Caliban is the abrasive, foul-mouthed son of the evil witch Sycorax. When Prospero was shipwrecked on the island Prospero treated him kindly but their relationship changed when Caliban tried to rape Prospero's daughter, Miranda. Caliban then became Prospero's unwilling servant. Caliban serves his master out of fear Prospero's wrath. Prospero's other servant Ariel is a graceful spirit who has courtesy and charm. Ariel has put her services at Prospero's disposal out of gratitude for his kind actions towards her. Prospero saved Ariel from the confinement of Sycorax who held her prisoner.
Prospero treats his two servants in very different ways as their behavior and attitudes towards him are contrasting. From this, the question arises why he treats his equally hard-working servants in different ways and if he is wise in his actions.
Prospero treats Caliban in a very strict, even ruthless manner insulting him,
'Thou poisonous slave, got by the devil himself' 1/2/319
and threatening him with harsh punishments that he can inflict by his powerful magic,
'...tonight thou shalt have cramps...
Thou shalt be pinched...
each pinch more stinging
Than bees made 'em. ' 1/2/325
Prospero appears to be a ruthless tyrant that strikes fear into Caliban to make him work but further on in the text we learn that this is not the case. Caliban's foul-mouthed insults,
'...blister you all over.' 1/2/324
portray his degraded, brutish nature. In Act 1 Scene 2 Caliban complains of how Prospero used him to find out the qualities of the island and stole the island from him. This part of the story makes you feel sympathy towards Caliban because he feels betrayed. The audiences of Shakespeare's time would not of seen such an actions as that made by Prospero unjust as throughout English history voyagers often took over land from the native people.
We learn that Caliban tried to rape Prospero's daughter,
'...thou didst seek to violate
The honour of my child.'
When Prospero first
Prospero learnt from his mistake in treating Caliban kindly and realized that the only way to treat such an immoral creature was to be strict and threaten or else Caliban will take advantage of his kindness. He understands that the only fair way to treat Caliban is to be strict with him because this is the only form of treatment that Caliban can respond to well.
In Act 2 Scene 3 when Caliban plots to kill his master Prospero with his newly found drunken master Stephano we can see that Shakespeare is portraying Caliban as a creature with very base instincts. From Caliban's actions, it is difficult to see understand why Prospero does not cast away Caliban. He says in Act 5:
'...this thing of darkness I
Acknowledge mine,' referring to...