Caliban Essay, Research Paper
Why are we, as a society, so quick to judge those who look or act differently than us? Is it a natural human instinct to either make fun or take advantage of those who seem so different? Are they looking for acceptance so badly that they would do anything to gain your approval? Caliban, one of the standout characters in Shakespeare s The Tempest , is one of these different people. He looks different, he acts different, and he is hated or just not accepted by most.
When I read about Caliban I am moved to pity. I do not see a being who is monstrous in all he does. Sure, he is wishy-washy in his loyalty, but that does not make him horrible. Many of today s population act just the same. So what determines that this being should be the hated one of the “Tempest”? I believe it is more than his fish-like appearance. It is the actions he commits which are considered improper and vile by the European society.
Caliban is representative of what people can become if they are forced into obedience of another. Prospero states that he has treated Caliban well by giving him the gift of language, and minor social interaction. However, this service performed by Prospero is not really all it is cracked up to be. Why did Prospero not learn Caliban s mumbo-jumbo? Prospero views Caliban as no more than an animal. Prospero recognizes his survival on the island is based on Caliban s knowledge of the fruits and other foods; however, Prospero does not show respect for any other side of Caliban s life.
Caliban falls from Prospero s favor after he is accused of attempting to rape Miranda. This enrages Prospero because his daughter is very dear to him, but also because he is disgusted by this representation of human wickedness. Caliban reacts to the instinctive need to populize his island and is shunned and punished. This reflects Prospero s European worldviews. The motives of Caliban appear to be improper and animalistic, and we, as readers, immediately set out to judge the supposed rapist.
It is difficult to understand exactly what Shakespeare had in mind when he created the character of Caliban. I believe that Shakespeare justifies Caliban as a rational being by giving him some of the most beautiful lines of the play. Perhaps we the readers should take another look at Caliban not as a base, vile creature, but as one who just wanted to survive.