Analysis of How Caliban is Presented in The Tempest

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About this sample


Words: 471 |

Page: 1|

3 min read

Published: Mar 1, 2019

Words: 471|Page: 1|3 min read

Published: Mar 1, 2019

How is Caliban presented in "The Tempest" by William Shakespeare? This essay will discover Shakespeare's portrayal of Caliban as that of a savage beast and a slave of the witch, Prospero. Caliban is the son of Sycorax, a wicked witch who once ruled over the island that is now governed by Prospero. After the death of his mother, Caliban becomes one of Prospero's servants. Prospero sees Caliban as an inferior being due to his ownership of the island, much like the European powers that dominated African countries and their inhabitants in the 1800s. In this sense, Caliban represents the African natives who were forcefully controlled by the Westerners. Shakespeare's representation of Caliban is a case of racial injustice and European dominance in the 1800s.

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Relationship with Prospero: The relationship between Prospero and Caliban seems to be ironic. At first, Caliban and Prospero seem to have a good relationship, as it was Caliban who found Prospero and Miranda who were washed off shore and he showed them the island. In return, Prospero and Miranda taught Caliban how to speak their language. Caliban who was owned by the vicious and wicked witch, Sycorax, was freed by Prospero from Sycorax’s spell. Prospero then later took supreme control of the island and then enslaves Caliban and makes him to carry wood. This is a representation of the indigenous natives who could not escape the harsh brutality of their colonial masters. Often in the play, we hear Caliban making remarks against Prospero’s exploitation of the island and curses her for enslaving him and taking his island away from him.

Caliban’s Revenge: Caliban seeks revenge when he meets two men named Trinculo and Stefano. Trinculo was a clown and Stefan an alcoholic butler to the King. Caliban takes these two men for gods and vows to serve them if they help him kill the evil Prospero who took over his island. Caliban’s plot does not go as planned.

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Caliban can be regarded as an embodiment of slavery on the island that Prospero now rules over. Caliban has been put in to slavery by Prospero as she says, "We'll visit Caliban, my slave - he does make our fire, fetch in our wood and services in offices that profit us." Again, "He is that Caliban, whom now I keep in service." Caliban represents slavery and the revolt against slavery in all its forms. Prospero at one time might have liked Caliban and treated him nicely, but in the final analysis, Caliban is his slave and Prospero herself makes no bones about calling him his slave without feeling embarrassed. The relationship between Caliban and Prospero is that of a slave and a slave-owner. Caliban's reluctance to carry out Prospero's commands shows a slave rebelling against the authority. Caliban, therefore, represents the oppressed and the indigenous slaves in an unequal world.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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The role of Caliban in the play “The Tempest” by William Shakespeare. (2023, March 13). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 28, 2024, from
“The role of Caliban in the play “The Tempest” by William Shakespeare.” GradesFixer, 13 Mar. 2023,
The role of Caliban in the play “The Tempest” by William Shakespeare. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 28 May 2024].
The role of Caliban in the play “The Tempest” by William Shakespeare [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2023 Mar 13 [cited 2024 May 28]. Available from:
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