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Why is Caliban such an interesting an important character in 'The Tempest' and how should a director present this character in

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Introduction

Why is Caliban such an interesting an important character in 'The Tempest' and how should a director present this character in order to make the most of the issues that he raises? 'The Tempest' is the magical story of the ship-wrecked inhabitants of an island. It deals with many serious themes such as; nature/nurture, power, magic and treachery but 'the seriousness is never allowed to cause disquiet in the audience'. Many of these themes are still relevant today. The Tempest is, in effect, 'a fairytale complete with magical occurrences, suspension of the laws of nature and a happy ending'. Caliban is an interesting an important character in 'The Tempest'. He brings to the play issues that have a humorous side but are also serious, for example the treatment of inferiors. Prospero's treatment of Caliban is portrayed as being amusing, with over-the-top curses, but it reflects the poor treatment of servants (or slaves) in Shakespeare's time. From act one scene two we learn about Caliban's history and how he came to be on the island and in service to Prospero. We know this from, 'This island is mine, by Sycorax my mother . . . the rest o' th' island'. From Miranda saying, ''Tis a villain, sir, that I do not love to look upon,' we assume that Caliban must be truly bad if someone as sympathetic and loving as Miranda thinks so badly of him. We also know that he is resentful of Prospero and Miranda being his masters because when they call him out to chop wood he says, 'There's wood enough within.' A director would tell Caliban to say this bitterly and grumpily. ...read more.

Middle

In this way, when he thinks Stephano is a spirit sent by Prospero he could wail, '. . .here comes a spirit to torment me, for bringing wood in slowly, I'll fall flat, perchance he will not mind me', while trembling at the knees, then throw himself on the floor under his coat dramatically. Magic is a strong theme throughout the play and it has particular mention in this scene. Caliban curses Prospero on his first line. Caliban's curses could be based on the experiences he had when he was young and heard his mother, Sycorax the witch, curse others. For example, she imprisoned Ariel in a tree, which Caliban could have been present for. His curses could also be based on hearing Prospero say spells or when he is trying to curse Caliban. At the end of act two scene two Caliban is in a good mood, the best we see him in throughout the play, because he is inebriated and has got the promise of new masters and a better life. Caliban is hopeful for the future because he believes that he has escaped Prospero's 'tyrannical' mastery. He has become loud, obnoxious and childish in his inebriated state. A director could show Caliban's good humour by having him singing and dancing about and being full of energy. From act three scene two we learn new things about Caliban. Caliban's character also develops in this scene, because of the liquor. The liquor makes Caliban an extrovert rather than an introvert, good humoured compared to his previous black mood and it makes him open with his emotions. He tells Stephano everything about Prospero and Miranda without a second thought. ...read more.

Conclusion

Sycorax never uses magic kindly, for example, she imprisoned Ariel in a tree. Prospero attempts to nurture Caliban failed because the nurture was intended to control him not free him. For example, Prospero taught Caliban his language so he could tell him what to do and he would understand. Another example is that they (Prospero and Miranda) were nice to Caliban so that he would show them around and teach them how to survive on the island. Caliban is possibly the only character in 'The Tempest' that truly appreciates the nature of the island because he lived there for so long alone after Sycorax died. After she died Caliban had no choice but to explore the island and find out everything he could about it. Prospero generally uses his power wisely but he sometimes uses it to control people too much, for example, Caliban. He makes Caliban into his slave by controlling him through his power. People like Caliban are always looking for a leader because although Caliban complains about Prospero (and even plots to kill him) he still likes the comfort of having a leader who will look after him. Although Caliban rebels against Prospero he still stays with him because that is better than having to fend for himself. I think that Caliban is possibly the most important character (excluding Prospero) because he is so different from the other characters. He offers a light hearted contrast to the vitriolic nature of characters such as Antonio. Rather than fear of hate Caliban, the audience should consider him a na�ve creature that needs to be led. Caliban shows a side to human nature that some would want to disown, and so call him a monster, but I think that he is a faintly frightening part of the human mind-set that cannot be avoided. ...read more.

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