From Unwilling Servant To Subservient Slave
Caliban’s Attempt and Failure at Being Seen as Human
In his critical essay, Art vs. Nature, Frank Kermode discusses the ideas of art and nature that are seen in The Tempest, by William Shakespeare. According to Kermode, Caliban is a figure of nature because of his connection to the earth and negative treatment he receives from civilized people based on the fact that he is seen as un-human and savage. Prospero, on the other hand, is a figure of art because of his expansive knowledge and magic not to mention his noble birth. Because of the large difference that Kermode sets up between Prospero’s art and Caliban’s nature we see a class system develop where Prospero is the respected nobility and Caliban is the unwilling servant with no way of raising his status. But when the other characters inhabit the island they join the class system as well. Unable to gain Prospero’s approval Caliban flocks to the first human who shows him version of kindness, Stephano. Because Stephano’s status is lower than Prosperos Caliban has more of an opportunity, if not to improve his status, to at least be a human part of the class system on the island. Kermode begins his essay with a section he calls Buds of a Nobler Race where he talks of the nobles being stranded in Caliban’s savage environment. Caliban is never once treated like a human during the play; he is nature, animal, servant but never a person. He is seen this way because he is a non-educated savage. Kermode explains the argument that people are like seeds; Caliban is a bad seed and therefore isn’t really able to grow or change. He reaches a limit where he can’t develop any further unlike Miranda and Prospero who are good seeds because of their breeding and education. This idea can be seen as a class system on the island, nobles are better and therefore have a higher place in society where as savages are the lowest form and are only meant to serve the nobles. Kermode...
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