This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

The Characters Of Prospero And Caliban In The Tempest

1591 words - 6 pages

The Conflict between Passion and Intellect in The Tempest

     During the time of Shakespeare, society had a hierarchical structure. In Shakespeare's play, The Tempest, the characters of Prospero and Caliban, represent two different extremes on the social spectrum: the ruler, and the ruled. Their positions on the social hierarchy are largely due to the fact that Caliban responds almost wholly to passions, feelings of pleasure -- his senses, while Prospero is ruled more by his intellect and self-discipline -- his mind. However, the fight that Prospero has against his own natural tendency to ignore the discipline of his intellect, and give in to pleasures such as vanity and self-indulgence, cannot be ignored.


            Caliban was born of a witch; Prospero is a magician. However, the types of magic practiced by Sycorax and Prospero differ greatly: Sycorax, in many respects a traditional witch, worked within Nature and as a part of it. She worked with devils and the lowest orders of spirits. Prospero, on the other hand, exercises his magic by means of strict discipline and study, rising above the natural order by means of his greater knowledge, and actually coercing spirits of a fairly high rank, such as Ariel, to do his bidding and to control other spirits for him. In the Arts, both Prospero and Sycorax reflect the world of the mind, but Prospero operates higher up in the natural hierarchy using white magic as compared to Sycorax's black magic.


            However, in the use of his Art, Prospero reveals himself as not wholly disciplined. Prospero enjoys using the power of his Art, as he tells us in his monologue just before his forgiveness of the court party -- "graves at my command ... op'd ... By my so potent Art."  He has also shown that he enjoys using it to show off, as he did during the masque he provided for Ferdinand and Miranda, which he indulged in even when Caliban's plot and the court party both urgently required his attention.


            Although we are not given details of Caliban's birth, it seems likely that a creature as subhuman in appearance as Caliban was not born of a human union. It has been postulated that, to quote Prospero, he was "got by the devil himself upon thy wicked dam", from a union between Sycorax and an incubus (an extremely attractive male apparition with intention to tempt). Caliban was therefore a creature born from passion, the offspring of an unholy pleasure. Prospero was not only of noble birth; he was also born to be the ruler of the city-state of Milan. Nobility, in Elizabethan times, carried with it heavy implications.  It was expected that Prospero would be intellectually superior, and that he would exercise as great a discipline over himself as he was expected to exercise over others, in his leadership role. From their ancestry, Prospero is likely to be more ruled by his intellect, and Caliban by his love of pleasure.


            In the history of each...

Find Another Essay On The Characters of Prospero and Caliban in The Tempest

The Character of Caliban in Shakespeare’s The Tempest

850 words - 3 pages The Character of Caliban in Shakespeare’s The Tempest Caliban is one of the most interesting of Shakespeare’s characters. For centuries, scholars have puzzled over the meaning and importance of this central character. Who or what is this creature? Is he a man or a beast (Peterson, p.2)? Most of the people who have debated this question take the question itself at face value. Caliban is either a man or a beast. The other characters in

The Character of Caliban in Shakespeare's The Tempest

1820 words - 7 pages an unfair master, with a unfound hatred for the creature that he has created. This image of Prospero is slightly bettered in the ending, when he leaves the island and lets Caliban stay there, once again as its rightful owner.   The impact of our understanding of Caliban on our understanding of The Tempest as a play is therefore one of great importance. He puts an angle on Prospero's character that the other lines of forgiveness and the

Prospero's Relationship with Caliban and Colonialism in "The Tempest"

1442 words - 6 pages Prospero calls Caliban a tortoise, or when other characters refer to him as a ‘fish’. Caliban’s reactions to Prospero within this scene, both verbal and physical, tell the typical story of a native people who have been under Colonial rule for some time. When he is initially summoned Caliban’s response is hesitant and churlish, as the stage directions dictate that he does not come when called, but instead shouts in a presumptuous manner, “(Calling

Perception of Prospero, a Character in Shakespeare´s The Tempest

589 words - 2 pages Alonso and Antonio committed, Prospero did himself to characters such as Caliban. However, this detail is completely ignored by the reader as a result of the sympathy gained by Prospero. Prospero is perceived as a hero. In turn, his transgressions are completely overlooked. The first time that Prospero can even be considered a favorable person is after releasing Ariel and Caliban and relinquishing his magic. At this point, there is no accrued sympathy clouding any misdeeds by Prospero.

Compare and Contrast of Caliban and Ariel in Shakespeare’s The Tempest

1305 words - 5 pages entrails, till thou hast howl’d away twelve winters” (1.2.294-296). This shows that he is even willing to physically harm his servant Ariel if he mentions obtaining his freedom to him again. Overall, the two characters Caliban and Ariel both play major parts in The Tempest. However, they could not be more unalike. They are treated in completely different ways by their master Prospero, they are required to take on different types of tasks, and the only

The Dictatorial Prospero of Shakespeare's The Tempest

1525 words - 6 pages released. Caliban, on the other hand, is viewed as a brutish native, both enslaved and scorned by Prospero and Miranda. Though Caliban is an aboriginal inhabitant of the island, Prospero does not give him special treatment solely because his mother was a witch, a characteristic of which Caliban has no control. By creating the tempest that puts the plot in motion, Ariel performs magical tasks, which makes him more valuable to Prospero. Still, Ariel

Defending Prospero in Shakespeare's The Tempest

1796 words - 7 pages Defending Prospero in The Tempest      In William Shakespeare's The Tempest, the character of Prospero brings about a great deal of debate. Modern literary critics are quick to use him as a poster child for English colonial practice in the sixteenth and seventeenth century. Many see him as person who desires complete control of everything around him from the fish-like monster Caliban to his spirit servant Ariel, even his own daughter

An essay about transformation by theatre in Shakespeare's "The Tempest". Transformation of Prospero, of the audience and of Shakespeare himself

972 words - 4 pages 1. The Transformation of ProsperoIn Shakespeare's "The Tempest" the figure of Prospero, the former Duke of Milan, forms the key element of all actions and developments throughout the play. He incorporates absolute power over the other characters and generates the plot of the play almost uninfluenced. For an in-depth understanding of the play it is therefore indispensable to analyse whether or not he undertakes a transformation in character or

A Comparison of Characters in Macbeth and The Tempest

976 words - 4 pages The main characters in a story all have very similar characteristics as the main characters in other stories. The main characters in Macbeth and Tempest are both faced with similar dilemmas that they solve in similar ways, yet each one had their own unique way of going about it. Prospero and Macbeth are both trying to proclaim their power as leader, or king, and they each have to figure out if they should, and how they should solve the problem

Caliban Portrayed as a Child in The Tempest

1914 words - 8 pages Caliban Portrayed as a Child in The Tempest        Can a grown adult develop and act like a child?  Shakespeaer's answer would have been yes.  This fact is depicted through the character of Caliban.  Caliban's speech and manners, as well as his thought, all display the very basic reactions and notions of human beings.  He is also controlled by a parent figure who comes in the form of Prospero.  An analysis of Caliban can hold him up to

Analysis of Prospero from The Tempest by Shakespeare

907 words - 4 pages Prospero, the male lead of the Tempest, starts out as the victim of the play, but as the story goes on, it becomes apparent that he is actually the cause of all the problems and plots within the play. Prospero is important because he is the puppeteer that leads all of the characters to complete his orders. He strings all of the characters along to do his bidding, and by the end of the play, he is the only one who wins. Prospero is interesting

Similar Essays

Relationship Between Prospero, Caliban And Ariel In The Tempest

1478 words - 6 pages 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 And Caliban Of William Shakespeare's The Tempest

1034 words - 4 pages Prospero owns. By destroying the books, Caliban would destroy both Prospero?s magical power, and his access to knowledge itself. He says that without those books, Prospero would fall to the same level as Caliban himself, and lose all his magical control over the spirits of the island. In The Tempest Caliban is related to the darker, more primitive side of Prospero himself. The two characters both use imagery centered around the distinction

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 In Shakespeare's The Tempest Essay

1868 words - 7 pages . This theory of projection onto the ‘Other’ certainly appears to be consistent in The Tempest as in the play several characters attempt to justify their enslavement of Caliban, repulsed by his otherness. In a discussion with Ariel, Prospero recounts how Caliban’s mother was the ‘damned witch Sycorax’ who committed ‘mischiefs manifold, and sorceries terrible’. When Prospero recounts this story to Ariel he makes sure to remind Ariel of the