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The Tempest - By the end of Act 3 Caliban has emerged both positively and negatively. Discuss…

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Introduction

AS English Literature Assignment 1. The Tempest. By the end of Act 3 Caliban has emerged both positively and negatively. Discuss... The monster offspring of the deceased 'foul witch Sycorax', Caliban is a would-be rapist, thief and killer. Yet it's impossible not to like him. Maybe this is because it's easy to see a part of yourself in him: who wouldn't rather lie around in the sun than haul firewood and monotonous chores of its like? It is interesting to see that Shakespeare has created such a monstrous character in Caliban who lacks basic morals and represents most things negative and yet the audience are able to identify with him. Caliban is the only real native of the island to appear in the play. In his first speech to Prospero, Caliban insists that Prospero stole the island from him. Through his speech, Caliban suggests that his situation is much the same as Prospero's, whose brother usurped his dukedom. Prospero represents himself as being a victim of injustice working to right the wrongs that have been done to him however, his ideas of justice and injustice is somewhat hypocritical- for example, though he is furious with his brother for taking his power and sending him into exile, he has no qualms about taking over Caliban's island or about enslaving Ariel and Caliban in order to achieve his ends. ...read more.

Middle

The inhuman part of Caliban drives out the human part, the 'good nature', which is imposed on him. Caliban perhaps represents Shakespeare's interpretation of the New-World native. We know that Shakespeare turned to Montaigne's essay on Cannibalism. Using this essay as research material, Shakespeare would have been exposed to the ideologies of the New-World natives. He would have found that the natives have a Utopian government and sanction adultery. The latter observation is especially relevant to the Tempest. The practice of free love could provide an explanation as to why Caliban is not only unrepentant for his attempt on Miranda, but also his incapability of seeing that there is anything to repent for. If Shakespeare's making of Caliban is on the basis of this source or something similar, then it can be argued in Caliban's defence that such behaviour was of the norm to him; he was not taught that such behaviour was amoral and simply unacceptable in the western society. However, even if his actions are justifiable on the basis that he did not know any different, he does not gain any votes of sympathy from the audience as chastity was of great importance to Jacobeans and Elizabethans and is both socially and morally unacceptable now. So it can be concluded that, Prospero's attempt to educate and civilise him have only succeeded in corrupting him and therefore Caliban represents a striking failure of Prospero's art. Surprisingly, Caliban also mirrors and contrasts Ferdinand in certain ways. ...read more.

Conclusion

but, unexpectedly at the back end of this beautiful speech he results in spitting more curses; '...toads, beetles, bats light on you!' and the images are now animalist, reptiles of the low order, dark and earthy. There are far more negatives in proportion to the positives that we get from Caliban in the first three Acts. His character is seen at an all time low when Stefano and Trinculo offer him a drink and he, in gratitude and foolishness swears his allegiance to them. Caliban, at the point of offering to lick Stefano's shoes, has more resemblance to a fool than he does to Caliban: the poet. The audience, I believe, or at least I did, feel quite let down by his behaviour and how low he was willing to stoop to free himself of Prospero's enslavement, regardless of Prospero's treatment towards him. It seems that at this point he lacks compassion, dignity and grace. Caliban's swarthy appearance, his forced servitude, and his native status on the island have led many readers to interpret him as a symbol of the native cultures occupied and suppressed by the European colonial societies, which are represented through the power of Prospero. Whether or not one accepts this reading, Caliban remains one of the most intriguing and ambiguous minor characters in all of Shakespeare, a sensitive monster who allows himself to be transformed into a fool, primarily and largely by himself but also through the help of other characters. October 2003 Miss. Powell Nasima Begum 12B Pg 1 of 5 ...read more.

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