Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. The physical appearance of Caliban is vague; all attempts to sketch this strange being have proved futile. Read More. Caliban, a feral, sullen, misshapen creature in Shakespeare’s The Tempest.The son of the sorceress Sycorax, Caliban is the sole inhabitant of his island (excluding the imprisoned Ariel) until Prospero and his infant daughter Miranda are cast ashore. He, therefore, represents slavery and the revolt against slavery in all its forms. Sycorax was a witch and Caliban’s shape is an ambiguous one. Towards the end, Caliban apologizes for his errors and Prospero, almost as a patron, forgives him and frees him from the spell of his magical power. Prospero says that even though he is “a filth”, he took “human care” of him. Other interpreters consider him a representative of native peoples suffering under imperialist oppression. It has since assumed serious dimensions and created several historic and geographic problems. Prospero came to the island where Caliban and his mother Sycorax were dwelling and forcefully took it from them. Caliban in The Tempest is also an embodiment of slavery on the island that Prospero has usurped. Thus Caliban represents the colonized who at the same time counters the colonizer with what he has given to the colonized. The relationship between Caliban and Prospero is that of a slave and a slave-owner. The “monster” Caliban is first introduced, in The Tempest, as a “freckled whelp hag-born-not honour’d with a human shape” (Tempest) that was ‘littered’ on an island by a witch and fathered by the devil. Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree.... What dramatic character sold his soul to the devil? Miranda boldly states that he is “capable of all ill.” She taught him how to speak the language, she filled his “purposes with words that made them known” but Caliban’s revolting character is revealed when he replies to her that “you taught me language, and my profit on’t is, I know how to curse.” This characteristic of Caliban is the reason behind his character brought into the post-colonial context. The first time when Prospero speaks of Caliban to Miranda in the play, he says that Caliban is someone who never “yields us kind answer” and Miranda replies that he is “a villain.”. Back to: The Tempest by William Shakespeare. Prospero at one time might have 'petted' Caliban and treated him with great affection, but in the final analysis, Caliban is his slave and Prospero himself makes no bones about calling him his slave without feeling embarrassed. On the other hand, Caliban also stands for the force that strikes back on the colonizer. The Tempest, drama in five acts by William Shakespeare, first written and performed about 1611 and published in the First Folio of 1623 from an edited transcript, by Ralph Crane (scrivener of the King’s Men), of the author’s papers after they had been annotated for production.
It was an attempt to justify colonization. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. He is treated as a beast by Prospero and he learns how to use language. In the play The Tempest, which is written by Shakespeare, Caliban is one of those characters who have been used tremendously outside the play. In the eyes of the colonizer the native inhabitants were always barbarians. He is a colonized whose existence is the 'other' so much needed to define the 'self of the colonizer. After he learns how to use language he says that the advantage of it is that he knows how to curse the colonizer. If Prospero represents the colonizer from the civilized world, Caliban is seen as a savage beast thus in need of being civilized. What gives him supernatural qualities is Caliban's heredity and his bodily deformity as well as the curses he constantly heaps upon Prospero in spite of knowing that he will be severely punished for this. Prospero feels it his duty to teach and civilize the savage. The son of the sorceress Sycorax, Caliban is the sole inhabitant of his island (excluding the imprisoned Ariel) until Prospero and his infant daughter Miranda are cast ashore. His body is described as either “half fish and half monster” or “half fish and half man. In Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the idea applies to Caliban, who serves. He is a victim of colonial rule and exploitation. Caliban says, “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.”. Caliban symbolizes an extraordinary kind of monstrosity and lack of scruples when he tries to rape Miranda, for which he is banished from Prospero's cell and confined to a rock, and when he conspires against his master Prospero along with the drunken butler Stephano and the jester Trinculo.
By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. In another, she excludes him from the category of human beings.
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