How Is Caliban Presented as Hideous in the Tempest

Topics: The Tempest, Moons of Uranus, Prospero Pages: 3 (927 words) Published: May 31, 2013
In what ways is Caliban presented as hideous in The Tempest?

Through the exploration if the play, The Tempest by William Shakespeare, we are introduced to the character of Caliban and almost immediately we are encouraged to view him as hideous and monstrous. Shakespeare makes us identify Caliban as some kind of sub-human freak through the horrific appearance, malicious background and low social status in which he is allocated. However, although we are encouraged by language, and the other characters to view Caliban as terrible, we do in fact reserve or judgment as we can sympathise with him; like the colonized people, Caliban is treated like a slave and although some of his actions may be terrible, we can deduce some reason behind them. Even before we meet Caliban on the set, we are given background information on him which influences the audience to view him as some kind of hideous monster; we are told that Caliban is the Offspring of the devil and the witch Sycorax and so already we see Caliban as a representative of black magic and evil which encourages the audience to dislike him. Furthermore, Prospero refers to Caliban’s birth as something that Sycorax “did litter here” with the words, “litter” making us think of an animal being born, all of which builds up a hideous and savage image of Caliban. We also look closely at the name Caliban itself which evokes monstrous qualities as it can be anagrammatized to read, “Cannibal.” This is a term which derived from the word, “carib” which was a European term used to describe flesh eaters. In this sense Shakespeare associates Caliban with the kinds of, “savage” man eaters that Europeans would read about at the time the play was written. Although Shakespeare does not imply that Caliban is a man eater – he does lend a savage and hideous quality to his character. With Caliban’s unpleasant heritage, background, name and perceptive of Prospero Shakespeare persuades the audience set up their expectations for Caliban...
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