Described in the character list as "a savage and deformed slave," Caliban is the son of Sycorax, an evil witch who has since died but who once held authority over the island now ruled by Prospero. Regarding him as a "beast" and a "poisonous slave, got by the devil himself' upon Sycorax, Prospero has forced Caliban into slavery (act4 scene1 line140) (act 1scene2 line319). By contrast, Caliban considers himself mistreated and overworked. He bitterly accuses Prospero of befriending him in order to take advantage of his appreciation and rob him of the island which he considers his birth right.
The tempest tells us a lot about Shakespearean England. Shakespearean life had a big influence on the tempest and the themes included in it. The character of Caliban really puts these into the story and draws out the themes such as slavery, power and prejudice.
Our first impressions of Caliban are that of an evil monster. This is seen in act 1 scene 2 "As wicked dew as e"er my mother brush’d with raven’s feather from unwholesome fen drop on you both! A southwest blow on ye and blister you all o’er.” Shakespeare used harsh words and very poetic and aggressive writing for the character of Caliban. Prospero also feels that Caliban takes everything he has done for him for granted. He is impressed and calls them his new god. His only doing as Prospero wants because he has power over Caliban and if not for that Caliban would be the ruler of the isle. He tries to rape his daughter Miranda "till though didst seek to violate my child" (act1 scene2 line347). His relationship with his master Prospero is that of hatred and detest. Caliban loathes Prospero and that is why he is always rebelling and insulting him. We learn from the introduction of Caliban, that he is a slave and this is a theme throughout the entire play. Prospero is also very prejudice against Caliban and almost manipulates him into being violent and argumentative.
Caliban is portrayed as more animal than human....
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