The Oppression of Caliban

4 April 2015
This paper analyzes the role of Caliban in Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

This paper is about how the characters in Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” see Caliban as a monster. The writer examines the character and proceeds to compare and contrast him to each of the other characters in the play. The writer also debates about whether or not their treatment of Caliban is justified.
“William Shakespeare’s, The Tempest, provides insight into the hierarchy of command and servitude by order of nature. This play uses the relationship between its characters to display the control of the conqueror over the conquered. It also shows how society usually places the undesirable members at the bottom of the chain of command, even though they may be entitled to a higher social status. For example, the beginning of the play opens with a scene on a boat in the midst of a terrible storm. The boatswain, who is under the command of the royal party, attempts to keep the boat from sinking. Members of the royal party, however, persist in interfering with his duties. The boatswain retorts, What cares these roarers for the name of the king To cabin! Silence! Trouble us not(I, I, 16-18). He is trying to warn his superiors that if he does not let him do his job, everyone will die, and it will not matter who has power over whom. The superiors, however, still take offense to this comment and label him a blasphemer. Caliban, an unfortunate character in this play, suffers from similar constant abuse because he is of the lowest social rank in his community. Critic John W. Draper describes Caliban’s position in relation to the other characters when he says, Of all the characters in Shakespeare, Caliban is the most fully and repeatedly/ described, though not always consistently; and his bodily parts seem to show little/ relation to his humor or his character except that both are monstrous. Monsters/ were popular; and, as Trinculo remarks, any holiday fool in England would pay out/ silver for the sight of one. Caliban’s monstrosity, however, out-Herods Herod`(Draper 89). According to the other inhabitants of the island, Caliban is a monster. He is a symbol of what they never want to become. Caliban reminds them to act as though they are worthy of their high social status. He is the painfully realistic entity around whom the other rulers on the island silently rally in order to maintain a social balance. They abhor him but desperately desire to possess at the same time. On a narrower scale, the oppression of the underdog is obvious in the undesirable Caliban and his relationship to Prospero, Miranda, Ariel and Ferdinand. `

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