• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The Tempest - How is Caliban presented and what is his dramatic significance to the play?

Extracts from this document...


How is Caliban presented and what is his dramatic significance to the play? Caliban is the son of Sycorax, a witch that originally inhabited (and so is the only true native) of the Island on which the play is set. He is the "misshapen" slave of Prospero who claimed the island as his own when he was banished to it 12 years previously. Prospero refers to him using earthly names, such as "tortoise", making very clear quite early on that Caliban is not considered an equal by Prospero or Miranda. He is seen as a lower, 'uncivilised' life-form because of the uneducated and primal state they originally met him in, making their actions to correct this mirror the current events during the Elizabethan period in regards to the discovery of the Americas. ...read more.


This was the point where Prospero stopped trying to nurture Caliban into a respectable man and started seeing him as "filth". Shakespeare chose to include such an occurrence to highlight the fact that we cannot judge natives from undeveloped countries by western standards, as however much semantic knowledge they acquire, it is made completely redundant if they are taught western morals to which we feel they should abide by, making Caliban crucial to conveying this theme. Despite the deficient schooling, he is very close to the natural aspect of the island, which is shown in his passionate and almost poetic description of it ("The isle is full of noises / Sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not") ...read more.


Ariel is described as his "fine apparition" and is an "airy spirit" which corresponds more to the elements, leaving Caliban discussing "springs, brine pits" keeping the connection between him and the earth very strong. The actions of Caliban towards the end of the play draw parallels with the actions of Antonio as well, in the way his ambition leads him to attempting to usurp Prospero from his position. The only difference is that Antonio actually achieves this, but the raw ambition that led them to commit the deeds are the same, which is demonstrated when he tells Stephano and Trinculo "The dropsy drown this fool I what do you mean To dote thus on such luggage? Let's alone, And do the murder first". ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level The Tempest section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level The Tempest essays

  1. Discuss the presentation and significance of Caliban in 'The Tempest'

    Caliban serves Prospero who is the most powerful character in the play. "His art is of such power" (Act 1, Scene 2, L373) The abuse of power is also a theme brought up throughout the Tempest. Stephano and Trinculo abuse their power over Caliban by considering taking him back to Milan to make money.

  2. The Significance of Colonialism in William Shakespeare's The Tempest (1610/11), Thomas More's Utopia (1516) ...

    died in England could have possibly been embalmed, clad in their indigenous attire and put on show for paying audiences, as no records attest to the departure or burial of more than a dozen Amerindians whose presence in England during Shakespeare's lifetime is certain (Vaughan 58-59).

  1. Discuss the significance of Caliban in The Tempest

    The ideals of colonisation were based on the belief that the white Europeans were superior to the coloured natives across the seas. The wise and powerful prospero is meant to represent the position of colonizer, and Caliban that of the native.

  2. The Significance of the Island Setting - The Tempest and Robinson Crusoe.

    Caliban and Ariel also give rise to the Elizabethan curiosity in the supernatural. The creatures are a part of the island, which gives the island its magical motif. Prospero's wonder mirrors that of Elizabethans in the supernatural world. As time elapses during his stay on the island, he even begins to rely on it.

  1. Explore the way that the theme of power and control is presented in 'The ...

    However, the first example of control and trying to maintain it is shown by the boatswain who commands the sailors and gives instructions, establishing his control. Following that, Alonso and Gonzalo emerge and get told by the boatswain to "keep below" (1:1:10)

  2. Explore Shakespeare’s Presentation of Caliban; a product of nature or nurture?

    stick" This quote shows us a lot about Prospero's beliefs about the way in which human characteristics are gained. It shows that he follows John Locke's view that someone can be a "born devil". Even Caliban himself at the end of the play acknowledges his own stupidity when he says " I'll be wise hereafter, and seek for grace".

  1. Compare and contrast the ways in which the writers of The Tempest and Translations ...

    Meanwhile, Caliban is an anagram of canibal, reinforcing our point earlier that for the 'dignified' world he embodies the vile (the opposite of no-vile, or as it was spelt in those days, nobile, thus the modern noble), while for us this just draws attention to the fact that he is not.

  2. An exploration of the treatment of the theme of government by Shakespeare in the ...

    Under normal circumstance the crew would have never stood the chance of responding to these nobles in the slightest aggressive manner, but owing to the situation at hand, the crew having the upper hand of navigating the ship to safety they appear to be in control.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work