Aspects Of Calbans Character In The Tempest English Literature Essay

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In The Tempest, the character of Caliban is portrayed as a fish like monster who lives on a mystical island alongside his master Prospero, who rules over him and a fellow mystical creature, Ariel. Caliban's character is shown as an uncivilised beast who is in conflict with civilization. He and Ariel both lived on the island before Prospero made them slaves to him. Caliban is called a monster and treated like a beast without any human feelings. He is called" servant monster! the folly of this island", "eyes are almost set in thy head", and"moon calf". These descriptions show how Caliban is dehumanised by those around him.

Throughout Act 3 Scene 2, Caliban's feelings and aspects of his personality are portrayed through his use of language. In this scene Caliban, Trinculo and Stephano wander around the island drunk, talking about killing Prospero. Stephano talks about how the Island would be different if he ruled over it. "I will kill this man. His daughter and I will be King … and Trinculo and thyself shall be viceroys". Throughout the scene Caliban demonstrates his personality by being manipulative, cunning and sycophantic. This image of him and his personality is shown in dramatic irony when the audience knows that Caliban is persuading Stephano to kill Prospero while he is treating Stephano as royalty. Quotes that support this are "Let me lick thy shoe", "Your highness" "I'll not serve him; he's not valiant", "My lord", "Noble lord" and "I'll serve thee". This shows that Caliban is persuading Stephano that he is more valiant than Prospero and so he should be king. Caliban is manipulating Stephano in to thinking of himself as his master and the master of the island. He is willing to behave like a pet licking his master's shoes and willing to do whatever he asks. He wants him to think that Prospero is not valiant and therefore not deserving to be ruler.

Language used in Act 3 Scene 2 gives a great understanding of different characters; Caliban's vocabulary can be split up into three categories, Timid Terms, Violent Verbs and Sycophantic verbs. Caliban is well known in this act for his violent vocabulary as he talks about "bash", "paunch", "cut" and "burn" that he uses mostly towards Prospero when describing how he shall be killed. As well as this Caliban uses extremely sycophantic verbs and phrases such as "let me lick thy shoe", "your highness" and "noble lord". These phrases show how Caliban is being a sycophant towards Stephano by acting as if Stephano is his new leader.

Staging is also a key part in this act for conveying the different relationships and the status of each character. When Caliban requests that he lick Stephano's shoe, this automatically creates a difference between Stephano's status and Caliban's as Caliban is willing and happy to be treated as a slave. This also suggests a lack of pride and dignity. Another way to describe how Caliban acts is to compare him to a "pet dog" as this shows Caliban's sycophantic side.

Caliban dreams of living freely and in peace on the island without Prospero abusing him. He calls Prospero a tyrant and a sorcerer who "by his cunning has cheated me of the island". However ironically, to be free he subordinates himself to Stephano. He does not realise that Stephano may turn in to a far worse ruler than Prospero has been. Stephano is cruel to Caliban and he shows no kindness towards him. He orders him "servant monster drink to me" and calls him "monsieur monster" sarcastically. However Caliban is happy to be abused in this way as long as Prospero is killed. Caliban cleverly manipulates Stephano in defending him when Trinculo insults him, "lo how he mocks me wilt thou let him my lord?" Stephano is tricked in to thinking that he is Calban's master and replies, "The poor monster is my subject and he shall not suffer indignity". Caliban also manipulates Stephano in to threatening Trinculo,"Trinculo, keep a good tongue in your head: if you prove a mutineer, the next tree". Later when Ariel tricks them Stephano tells Trinculo,"If you trouble him any more in's tale, by this hand, I will supplant some of your teeth". Eventually Stephano tells Trinculo to leave and stand far away while he plans with Caliban how to kill Prospero. ". In relation to Stephano, Caliban is very sycophantic towards him. He asks him to, "Let me lick thy shoe"; He calls him "Your highness" and tells him that he will serve him.

Caliban understands that Prospero's power comes from his books and he speaks of "burning" them and murdering Prospero. For Caliban, the books symbolise slavery because he was living happily on the island before Prospero's arrival. Books and civilization that it brought with it made Caliban a slave. He emphasises that first the books must be seized. Apart from the scene describing the island and its noises, Caliban's languages is restricted to cursing and foul language which further demonstrates that Caliban is an uncivilised character. He uses violent and extremely negative language towards Prospero .He dreams of ways to murder him by different ways such as, "Batter his skull", "Paunch him with a stake" and "cut his wezand Caliban's use of language is brutal as he encourages Stephano to "Bite him to death". He describes in detail his plans to murder Prospero by "knocking a nail into his head". This shows that Caliban is desperate to be free and the violence of his words show that he is himself feeling violated. He is a slave and his island has been taken away from him. As a reward for murdering Prospero he promises them Miranda. He is desperate to be free from slavery even though he is willing to make Miranda a slave.

The brutality of Caliban's language and his plan to murder Prospero is in contrast with the poetic way he describes the island. Different sides to Caliban's character are shown throughout the whole scene. The two main characteristics to his personality are vulnerability and viciousness, Caliban shows he is vicious when he is being manipulative and uses phrases such as "paunch", "stab", "destroy", "bite" and "beat" when talking of Prospero. Although these phrases show a brutal and uncivilised side to Caliban's personality other phrases, the vulnerable ones make him seem like a sympathetic character. When talking about the island he says,

"The isle is full of noises,

Sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not.

Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments

will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices,

that, if I then had waked after long sleep,

Will make me sleep again: and then, in dreaming,

the clouds me thought would open and show riches

Ready to drop upon me, that, when I waked,

I cried to dream again"

This passage uses alliteration to create a peaceful, kinder side to Caliban as he explains that the mystical island is nothing to be afraid of, he almost speaks with love and shows a more positive side to his personality.

Here we see that Caliban has a very close connection to the island. He is a native to the island. This is an ennobling monologue because it shows a deep understanding of the magic and mystery of the island. Caliban is being noble rather than acting like a servant monster. Because of this speech, Caliban becomes a more sympathetic character. His home has been taken away from him and he is ruled by an unkind master. Caliban's description of the beauty of his dreams reveals a human side that is in contrast with his brutal descriptions of Prospero's murder. We can see that Caliban is more than a monster of the island, and his personality is more complex

Act 3 Scene 2 shows Caliban's vicious, murderous, beast like personality and his more subtle, loving affection for his Island. In this passage we can almost feel sorry for Caliban as he is a prisoner on his own Island and has to do what Prospero tells him to.Caliban changes his language thought the scene to suit his needs. Sometimes he plays the monster, sometimes he is sycophantic and in rare moments he is shown as being loving and affectionate.

Hana Aziz 9W

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