Your understanding of the characters Caliban and prospero

August 21, 2017 September 1st, 2019 Free Essays Online for College Students

Prospero plays an important role within “The Tempest” Shakespeare uses his character to portray sympathy and convey empathy to both the viewer and reader. He does this by the by using such a misleading plot “wronged by his step brother”, and misleading first impression of characters and use of language, clearly portraying his character as one which Shakespeare feels misfortune upon. Prospero’s presence in “The Tempest” is important, and brutal amongst other characters, therefore has a general overpowering characteristic. Prospero’s character has a great desire for knowledge; however this kind of desire for magical knowledge eventually causes Prospero to get into trouble. Causing him to no longer be aware of all the issues and important matters that concern him as a duke of Milan , thus allowing his brother to compete for his title. Although Shakespeare tries to show concern and uses sympathetic language towards this character, through his unfair loss of the “Duke of Milan” which creates an unbalance within the plays good and bad. Shakespeare also portrays a different side to the character, as the audience also sees his greed for magical knowledge. This gives a contrast between feeling sympathy and feeling as if he his character deserved it. This causes the audience to have mixed feeling for this particular character throughout the play.

Prospero’s character also has a superior role over other characters in the play. One of these characters is his unsightly slave who is later described as a “moon calf”, Caliban. His power over Caliban results in behavior such as cruelty and dislike. He uses his magical knowledge for spiteful and nasty actions, such as calling upon his spirits to pinch Caliban when he curses. Thus showing his power over the character, symbolic of a relationship of a master and his slave. Another character represented in a similar way is Ariel (known as his magical spirit). In this case, Prospero uses his powers to enslave Ariel for his personal use to gain revenge over his brother. Prospero once again shows a side to his character, which is not so pleasant. He is shown to have a sudden outburst and shows great anger, when his slave decides to rebel.

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He reacts by saying “I’ll rack thee with old cramps, fill all thy bones with aches, make thee roar, that beasts shall tremble at thy din.”

This portrays Prospero as an unpleasant and unreasonable character. However his power, schemes, spells, and manipulations all develop into achieving a good and happy end to the play, thus making the character popular with the audience despite his cruelty portrayed throughout the play via language and particular actions throughout the acts Prospero shows to be a very two sided character with very opposite actions and opposite thoughts at certain points during the play.

During act 2 scene 2, his character is generally shown to be brutal, unjust and spiteful. The audience at this point of the play will feel hatred towards him. But this is unjust hatred which takes a turn as acts pass. Shakespeare uses language to portray this clearly to the audience. And exaggerates on his characteristics of unkindness towards his slaves. However Shakespeare also uses the device of dramatic irony, making the play more captivating, even at such an early stage of the play.

Caliban also plays an important part within the play. His character does not appear greatly during act 1, however he reappears in act 2, scene 2. This is an essential part for his character as it gives the first impressions and is relevant in portraying not only his own but also Prospero’s character because Prospero interacts with Caliban a lot during the play and their relationship is a very unjust and malevolent which portrays Prospero’s nature. Caliban’s hatred towards his master is clearly shown, when he says “His spirits hear me. And yet I needs must curse”, Caliban has such an infuriating affiliation with Prospero that even though Caliban knows he will endure a punishment if he speaks offensively towards Prospero but still does so.

Therefore the audience is immediately aware of Caliban’s bitterness and loathing characteristic. However He does not portray his feeling in front of his master as he is extremely terrified by the character of Prospero but does not take notice of his spirit Ariel. Caliban is not used to being under anyone’s orders, and was independent and free roaming within his territory until enslaved by Prospero’s, this is why he feels such irritation and revulsion towards his master Prospero.

Although Caliban blames Prospero for all his troubles, it is clear that nature, itself, has turned against him. In his soliloquy that opens this scene, Caliban admits that the animals on the island make faces at him, bite him, and hiss at him. This he blames on Prospero, reasoning that he controls all nature. Every noise is thought to be a spirit, sent by Prospero to torture him. Caliban represents nature, unaffected by man’s evolutionary and strive to be the best in everyway nature, as it appears untouched by other forms of life. And yet Caliban is not totally innocent. Prospero has already told the audience of Caliban’s attack on Miranda “violates the honour of my child”. His behavior recalls the undisciplined nature of wild animals rather than that of natural man. He has not been civilized to the rules of social communication and, instead, functions as the animals in the forest by obeying the instincts of nature.

Prospero’s slave, sometimes referred to as a monster creature of some sort by other characters, Caliban is the son of Sycorax who is a witch. He is a complex figure, and he mirrors other characters in the play. Caliban once lived as sole ruler of his island but when Prospero’s brother stranded Prospero in the island, Prospero took the island by force. Straight from the real natives hands leaving him with nothing but a meaningless status as a slave. Caliban attempts to create sympathy in the readers mind by continually bringing up his unjust story which is very similar to Prospero’s situation, whose brother stole his dukedom. On the other hand, Caliban is a simple character which resembles a very pre man Neanderthal character with his inhuman appearance and his lack of ability to communicate properly but he also has a very simple desire for power over what he feels is rightfully his island this is similar to Antonio’s actions to gain the title as “Duke of Milan” by overthrowing his brother Prospero.

In later acts Caliban is paired with the other dastardly duo Stefano and Trinculo who fall under Caliban’s authority and decide to do as he says by attempting to murder Prospero this is similar to Antonio’s original scheme against Prospero but on a larger scale Caliban is seeking revenge with the blood of Prospero. Caliban shows resemblances of Prospero and Ariel but also shows contrast this is done to highlight and exaggerate certain elements within the characters.

Ariel is “an airy spirit,” Caliban is a more realistic and non magical being, Caliban’s use of language is always changing depending on what he talks about, if he talks about his island then he speaks softly and shows a more civilized side to his character but some of his speeches contain more lower class slang and uneducated words which show his uneducated background under a watch hag “springs, brine pits”, “bogs, fens, flats”. Ariel maintains his dignity and an element of his freedom which is stored in Prospero’s hands by serving Prospero his master willingly, Caliban achieves a different kind of dignity by refusing, a rebellious and striking nature but at odd intervals, falls to his meaningless level and bows before Prospero’s intimidation and powerful status.

Caliban shows certain aspects to be similar to and contrast with many of the characters because Caliban has such a wide range of actions and thoughts, he is similar to Ferdinand in certain ways and also different. In Act 2, scene 2 Caliban enters “with a burden of wood,” Ferdinand later enters because he has no great importance within the first scenes and acts he is a more of a side character then a main character, he appears in Act 3, scene 1 “bearing a log.” Both Caliban and Ferdinand show a keen interest in Prospero’s virgin daughter Miranda, they portray sexual feelings in the hunger to untie Miranda’s “virgin knot.” Ferdinand who is sprung in love with Miranda attempting to make his story a success plans to marry her, while Caliban and his demeaning actions to attempt to rape her, this doesn’t show his upbringing in the limelight and Ferdinand seems to be highly similar.

Finally, and most tragically and ironically, Caliban becomes a joke of himself. Caliban has a main focus throughout the play and his first speech is based on his quest for his island, he mournfully reminds the magician about the way he treated Prospero as a guest when he first was stranded on his island and how he showed every inch of the island. A few scenes later, however, we see Caliban drunk and flattering before a new powerful figure in his life: Stefano and his bottle of alcohol. Stefano uses his alcohol to mesmerize Caliban; soon Caliban wants to offer Stephano his knowledge of the island which is his only show of significance and power in the play once he lost his island and what it beholds he even sinks to such a level past bowing down to the his master Prospero and insists to kiss Stephano’s feet. Caliban repeats the mistake of letting another character influence him.

Although Caliban is not an admired character amongst the others, he is not completely despised by the audience. He is also seen as a much more caring and insightful character. This is only temporarily shown, but once again a contrast of character is portrayed. It also shows the use of dramatic irony yet again, as only the audience can see this side to his character. The other characters within the play see him as simply a hideous and revolting person. One way in which Shakespeare portrayed another side of the frustrated Caliban, Is through the use of language by the character himself, this gives us an insight to why the character is, who he is. “I’ll show every fertile inch” This reminds us of who Caliban actually is, and how he once was the ruler of the island. Therefore we begin to feel pity upon him, as he has a right to feel and behave in the way he does. He describes his feelings in such a way that allows the audience to relate to what he feels and why it is so unjust. “A plague upon the tyrant that I serve”. Once again gives the audience an image, this causing them to sympathize with his character, as much as he is detested for his behavior, he is cursing towards Prospero but he has been driven to do so and the audience can see this. In Act 2 scene 2 it shows a major part to his character, towards the end he decides to overcome his fear and refuses to obey his master’s orders. “I’ll bare him no more sticks”. This shows frustration within his character, and also that he is one to fight back and rebel and stand for what truly is his.

Act 2 Scene 2 affects the readers understanding of the two characters Caliban and Prospero by giving a more in depth look at their unbalanced personalities we discover a wide range if aspects that have jus t been uncovered such as Prospero showing no mercy to either of his slaves may it be a slave who willingly performs his duties or rebels. Caliban shows his false attitude in the direct presence of Prospero but his real nature when he leaves Prospero’s presence as an ugly unsightly character who is seeking for revenge no matter what it takes he wants his only show of power his island back within his grasp from the treacherous magical hands of Prospero.


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