Shakespeare's Presentation Of The Relationship Between Prospero And Caliban In The Tempest

1755 words - 7 pages

Shakespeare's Presentation of the Relationship between Prospero and Caliban in The Tempest

Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ is set on a small island between Tunis and
Naples. The play is initially based around Prospero; once Duke of
Milan, a loving father to Miranda and inhabitant of the island for the
past twelve years, after being usurped by his scheming brother
Antonio. When exploring the relationship between Prospero and Caliban,
a ‘whelp hag-born’ living on the island when Prospero and Miranda
first arrive, we must consider a number of aspects of Prospero and
Caliban’s relationship. It is important to look at the following
points; Prospero’s treatment of Caliban when first arriving on the
island and his treatment during the play, Caliban’s constant struggle
for acknowledgement from both Prospero and Miranda, Caliban’s plan to
overthrow Prospero with Trinculo and Stephano and finally, Ariel;
another creature living on the island who is also enslaved to
Prospero-but in an entirely different way to Caliban.

When Caliban first enters during Act 1 Scene 2, Prospero instantly
uses much abusive language towards Caliban and describes him as a
‘poisonous slave, got by the devil himself’. In Caliban’s first
speech, he immediately curses Prospero. However, in return, Prospero
curses Caliban with ‘cramps and side-stitches’. It is also during this
scene that we are informed of how Caliban was treated when Prospero
first arrived on the island, which seems to have been with respect and
admiration. Caliban begins to use emotional blackmail when he talks of
how Prospero ‘stroks’t’ him and states how he loved Prospero and
showed him all the ‘qualities o’th’isle’. However, when Caliban ‘did
violate the honour’ of Miranda, Prospero treated Caliban as a slave
and showed only hatred and resentment towards him. Caliban admits to
attempting rape on Miranda and states he would have ‘peopled else this
isle with Caliban’s’. It is in this scene we learn how Caliban
attempted to ‘violate’ Miranda and in return, he is now enslaved to
Prospero completing menial tasks around the island.

It is also clear to see that Caliban has a desperate need to be
acknowledged. When we first meet Caliban in Act 1 Scene 2, he not only
curses Prospero but bickers with Miranda also. It is because of these
two characters that we see Caliban’s struggle for acknowledgement at
the beginning of that play. As the production progresses however, it
becomes apparent that Caliban also seeks-and to some extent
finds-acknowledgement from Trinculo and Stephano. I feel he discovers
this when he is able to lead them around the island and take command.
We see a role reversal for Caliban during Act 3 Scene 2, as it is he
who now leads Trinculo and Stephano. However, it is possible to see
that Caliban follows Trinculo and Stephano under the...

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