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How Does Shakespeare introduce Caliban in The Tempest?

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Introduction

How Does Shakespeare introduce Caliban? [Lines 308 - 374] In your answer: * Look closely at the language, imagery and tone of the passage. * Comment on what the passage suggests about the relationship between Prospero and Caliban. Shakespeare introduces Caliban into act 1: scene 2 before he even speaks by the shared dialogue between Prospero and Miranda. Before he has even entered the stage, the audience learn that Caliban is a slave controlled by Prospero "Whom now I keep in service" because he was born to a wicked mother; Sycorax. As Shakespeare unfolds the evilness that the "hag" Sycorax had previously executed, the audience gain a bad initial impression of Caliban as a character. This idea is also emphasised by the connotations attached to his name, for example it is clear for the audience to see the similarity between the word Caliban and Cannibal, and in fact to see it is an anagram. This brings imagery of a primitive, feral savage. The imagery is reinforced further by the wordplay associated with his name; implying the modern day term of Caribbean, also bring undomesticated and untamed suggestions to the character before he has even spoken. It is easy to recognise that Caliban does not get on well with his ruler, as conversation prior to his arrival on stage such as "Dull thing" makes it evident that he is disrespected and also the use of animal imagery used by Shakespeare emphasises this point further. ...read more.

Middle

As the audience are aware Prospero can mistreat people (as they have earlier witnessed him threaten to lock Ariel into an oak tree) it is almost assumed that Caliban does not deserve the ill-treatment he is receiving, as he appears to be performing his duties and is vital to Prospero "We cannot miss him". Prospero's tone and language can be interpreted as unfair treatment and can gain Caliban sympathy from the audience. The constant threats exchanged between Prospero and Caliban "south-west blow on ye,// And blister you all o'er" make their hatred towards each other mutual and builds tension on the stage as the characters tempers begin to boil. Shakespeare uses a similie to describe the pain Caliban will be in due to the pinches he will receive from his cramps "As thick as honeycomb"; this implies the pain will be severe because the pinches will be in high concentration. This figurative language is continued with the similie and comparison of the pain to bee stings "each pinch more stinging// Than the bees than made 'em". Later, Caliban reveals his and Prospero's past to the audience and answers a lot of previously unanswered questions. The audience learn that once Caliban respected Prospero as his teacher "Thou strok'st me and made much of me" and ironically taught him in return and shared all his knowledge of the island with him as well as using the animal imagery to describe himself. ...read more.

Conclusion

Also Shakespeare repeats the idea of Prospero and Miranda being betrayed by someone they trusted, as they have previously been by Antonio. In this scene, Miranda agrees with her father's views on their "abhorred slave" although Caliban has an answer to everything they say against him and states how they have been a negative influence on him, "I know how to curse". Prospero is trying to assert his authority here by using threats and backing them up with animal imagery, "Fill all thy bones with aches, make thee roar,// That beasts shall tremble". However Caliban is rebelliously challenging it as we have seen earlier in the play by Boatswain. In conclusion, Shakespeare introduces Caliban very strongly into "The Tempest". He has shown courage and guts to challenge and confront his master who controls him whilst maintaining his resentment against him for stealing the land which was rightfully his. Early impressions are instantly made of him, although in most cases these are dramatically turned around when the truth about his past is revealed. However the audience may sympathise with him as all he really wants is ironically the same as his contrasting character - Ariel; his liberty and freedom which he debatably deserves. The audience will therefore be keen to find out if he is later granted this by Prospero or not, and their relationship with one another increases the audience's anticipation of the unfolding of future scenes. ?? ?? ?? ?? Ashleigh Soppet 12A ...read more.

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