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Caliban: Then and Now

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  1. Introduction
  2. About Caliban
  3. A mirror of society
  4. A Victorian representative
  5. The Elizabethan point of view
  6. The modern point of view
  7. Conclusion

One of Shakespeare's strangest characters, Caliban is a monster who represents several concepts from slavery to Imperialism. Oscar Wilde even uses Caliban as a possible definition for 19th century ideals. He is such an effective character that he has appeared in many shapes and forms all over literature, often in relation to the original play, but sometimes not.

Caliban is an antagonist in Shakespeare's play The Tempest. He is human, but not quite human. Historically, he has been depicted as a deformed or wild man, a devil, or a hybrid of monster and man. A similar character could be Gollem in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Nobody knows exactly what Caliban is. In the play, he is Prospero's slave and the son of a witch-hag named Sycorax who was banished to the island while she was pregnant with Caliban. He is the only real native on the island, and insists that Prospero is an intruder and a thief. Although he is a disgusting, savage creature, Caliban does have a more sensitive side than appears briefly in the play which Prospero neglect s to notice.

[...] To an Elizabethan audience, Caliban was the villain of the play, despite being the victim and slave of Prospero. His undefined species, his repulsive appearance, and the fact that he tried to rape Miranda after she showed him kindness all serve to alienate him from the audience. Elizabethan audiences probably learned to hate him for his savagery as it was their belief that such people or creatures should be civilized or at least controlled. It is unlikely that they acknowledged his speeches about the island as anything more than beautiful imagery to add to the play. [...]

[...] It is influenced by the speech given in Act Scene 2 which was recited during the ceremony. For the most part, however, it seems that Caliban is doomed to remain a pitiful antagonist. The majority of his appearances in everything from literature to video games have him depicted as a horrible black monster bent on evil and destruction. Caliban's name alone is derived from kaliban in the Romani language which means blackness. Works Cited "Caliban." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation Apr Web Apr Jamieson, Lee. "Caliban." Shakespeare., n.d. [...]

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