Caliban And Ariel -The Tempest Essay, Research Paper
Shakespeare often used certain themes or characters throughout many of his plays. One such theme that is present in many of his plays in the idea of magic and the supernatural (although many of his tragedies have such elements, only two of his comedies have this trait). Those two comedies are “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “The Tempest”.
Both plays have a magic element that is the driving force in the play and the reason why things work out (for the better). In “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, the fairies (Puck and Oberon) play with the feelings and emotions of the characters. The characters than go through a time of chaos and disorientation while in the forest. Without this “divine intervention”, the characters would not have fell in love and all would not have been happy in the end. Also, Nick Bottom would never have came to his astounding conclusion about human behavior ["Oh, what fools these mortals be" happens to be one of the most notable and widely cited quotes from the play]. In “The Tempest”, Prospero uses his magic powers in order to make his thoughts a reality (just like Puck). Just like in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, the intervention of the powers cause events to happen that would not have otherwise occurred. Without Prospero’s “interference”, the ship would not have been destroyed and none of the characters would have come to the island and none of them would have had the revelations that they did.
In “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, Shakespeare has the supernatural element looking down on all of the characters and playing with them (mostly) for their own amusement. They can watch and see the consequences of their actions unfold. The Tempest, on the other hand, has the supernatural powers in the hands of a human character who can not directly see the consequences of his actions or watch the other characters at all times (although Ariel does observe and report back to Prospero). Also, the supernatural element of Prospero’s powers is a much darker and menacing element than that of the “love juice” in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. The way that the supernatural elements are administered is different in these two plays. Prospero doesn’t use his magic to pull the boat toward the island, instead he creates a storm that happens to destroy the boat and wash the passengers ashore. On the other hand, Puck actually sprinkles the love juice in their eyes and has the characters act differently than they normally would have (Demetrius never liked Helena and never would have if the fairies would not have interfered and Titania never would have fell in love with Bottom (who looked like an ass) without interference. In “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, the characters are the direct recipients of the magic and in “The Tempest”, it is on the environment (and the environment then serves Prospero’s will).
In Shakespeare’s play, “The Tempest,” the characters represent symbols of nature or nurture. Two such characters are Ariel and Caliban. The contrast between the two characters is derived from their actions. These actions show Shakespeare’s view of the uncivilized and the civilized, as well as help the reader develop his own opinion of each side.
In the play, Prospero frees a spirit named Ariel and makes her his slave. He also enslaves Caliban, a native monster. Caliban is regarded as the representation of the wild; the side that is usually looked down upon. During his first appearance, Caliban comes across very bestial and immoral. This is shown several times early in the play. His short, snappy replies and his odious tone, reveal the bitterness he feels from leading a servile life. Caliban’s rudeness makes him seem like an unworthy and despicable slave and he displays an extreme anger toward Prospero. When Caliban is asked to come forth he speaks corruptly, “As wicked dew as e’er my mother brushed/With raven’s feather from unwholesome fen/Drop on you both!?And blister you all o’er!” Caliban’s attitude and disrespect is unfitting for a servant. However, his actions are justified.
Until Prospero arrived on the island, Caliban was his own king. But, Prospero comforted Caliban and gave him water and berries; he also taught him how to speak. During this time Caliban loved Prospero and showed him the features of the island, “the fresh springs, brine-pits, barren place and the fertile.” Caliban regrets helping Prospero as he says towards the end of his speech, “Cursed be I that did so!” He feels this way due to his imprisonment.
Caliban was enslaved because he committed an unacceptable act that deserved punishment (in Prospero’s eyes). However, he had not been raised in society and, therefore, did not know any better. Even though Prospero taught him etiquette, it is his basic nature to do as he feels since he truly doesn’t understand right and wrong. The reader tends to feel sympathetic towards Caliban because he is punished and oppressed for conduct he could not control. However, Caliban has what no man of society (beside Ariel—who isn’t truly a man) has—purity and innocence. Shakespeare even gives Caliban some of the finest poetry in the play; “Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not./Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments!”— showing that “barbaric” nature can be as eloquent as “civilized” society. Caliban’s detestable acts are justified to the reader by his background and the environment in which he grew up. Caliban is created around the idea of nature and Shakespeare wanted us to see that Caliban was not as bad as he appeared.
In the world of The Tempest , Ariel, the ethereal spirit, and Caliban, the earthy monster, can be described as character foils. While Caliban is an “uncivilized and melancholy beast” who has the sexuality and earthiness of man, Ariel represents the goodness of man (by the way of his positive thinking and his ways of feeling emotions). He has “the heart and head of a man,” as you said!!! As unlike as they are, they have some traits in common. They both have an aversion to working (labor) and a longing for freedom. Also, they both have a crude sense of humor, a fondness for tricks and pranks, and a capricious and unsophisticated love of nature. Furthermore, both have deep-rooted conflicts inside them, one has a fear of a higher power and the other a craving for affection and approbation. Ariel symbolizes “pure body”–Prospero’s word in action, the precise fulfillment of his desires, and operates as an extension of Prospero’s body. The spirit Ariel can, in a way, be seen as being ubiquitous
Ariel is considered to be beyond humanity at the spiritual end of the scale and Caliban is beneath humanity at the animal end of the scale. In addition, Ariel rides “on the curl’d clouds” and Caliban lives on “this hard rock.” Caliban and Ariel exist at opposite sides of the spectrum and because of this, they are like foils to each other.