Works of English Literature
13 June, 20011
Caliban: Stock Character of Colonization
In Shakespearean literature Caliban will always be a character that will garner debate and stir up conversation. The “monster” Caliban is first introduced, in The Tempest, as a “freckled whelp hag-born--not honour'd with a human shape” (Tempest) that was ‘littered’ on an island by a witch and fathered by the devil. His body is described as either “half fish and half monster” or “half fish and half man.” (Tempest) Either way the point is clear, Caliban is initially portrayed as a barbarous being that lacks the common social graces of the imperial world. Many scholars go further to try and pinpoint his origins as either a Native American or a savage of Europe. Through an analysis of where Caliban is from, this essay will explain how he is a representation of all the colonized people during Shakespeare’s time. There are many arguments that say Caliban is not from America. One such example can be seen in the topography, flora, and fauna described of the island by Shakespeare himself as well as by the geographical origins of the characters. in The Tempest, Arial clearly stated that Sycorax, the mother of Caliban was born in Algiers. Adding this to the knowledge that Prospero was the Duke of Milan can give us a good guess as to where the island is. Looking on a map, Algiers borders the Mediterranean Sea on the south and the duchy of Milan borders it to the north. If one were to draw a straight line between the two locations, two islands would lay in its path. Looking further into the text, we can see the physical description of the island by Caliban. “show'd thee all the qualities o' th' isle, the fresh springs, brine-pits, barren place, and fertile.” (Tempest) The island of Corsica is known for its salt exports which is cultivated from brine pits, or more commonly known as salt marshes. In addition Corsica is known for having natural...
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• Tempest, The The Oxford Companion to English Literature. Edited by Dinah Birch. Oxford University Press Inc. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. CUNY Graduate Center. 6 June 2011
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