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Shakespeare's Characterisation of Caliban Essay

Project id 1015607
Subject area Biology
Document type Essay
Words 1723
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Caliban is arguably among the most complex characters in Shakespeare's The Tempest, regardless of his low status in the social hierarchy. Mostly , we form our first impression of Caliban through what Prospero says about him. Prospero draws parallels between Caliban and his additional slave Ariel, who was 'too delicate' to carry out the 'abhorred' controls of the witch Sycorax. Then he proceeds to compare Ariel with Caliban; "that a freckled whelp hag born -- not honoured with/A human form" In line 317 of the play, Prospero describes Caliban as a 'tortoise' and immediately compares him to Ariel, who's a 'handsome apparition.' This shows the version of the two servants and reveals Prospero's obvious derogatory attitude towards Caliban and his biased preference towards Ariel. Prospero helps the viewers to envisage Caliban regardless of the fact he hasn't yet looked onstage and in some way, prepares the viewer for feeling negativity towards this seemingly evil creature. Caliban's name is a Spanish anagram of the phrase 'cannibal' and is supposedly a version of the phrase 'Carib' that was the expression used to describe an inhabitant of the West Indies. It needs to be said that from the first cast record of The Tempest, Shakespeare described Caliban as a 'barbarous' which joins in with colonialism and sailors. In Jacobian instances, it wasn't unusual for wealthy nations and civilisations like the English to conquer and subdue the natives of different nations with alcohol, and as a result, claiming the land as their own. Shakespeare's contemporary audience would have been accustomed to that and would have a basic view of anyone below them, while nowadays, people and countries have strived towards equality between all people and all nations. At this...

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