Caliban’s turn

Because of his lack of European descent, Caliban as always had the short end of the stick. Once Sycorax died, Caliban thought the island would be his, although Prospero took it away without Caliban fully realizing what he was doing. Once Caliban became involved with Stefano and Trinculo and some alcohol, he began to feel like he might be able to get his island back with his plan.

“Having first seized his books; or with a log batter his skull, or paunch him with a steak, or cut his weasand with thy knife” (3.2.84-86).

Caliban may have succeeded if it wasn’t for two events. The first being that Ariel overheard the conversation where Caliban told his plan and then the fact that Stefano and Trinculo ruined the plan by falling for the trap that Ariel had set up, despite Caliban’s protest.

Trinculo: O King Stefano, O Peer! O Worthy Stefano, look what a wardrobe here is for thee!

Caliban: Let it alone, thou fool, it is but trash.

This play being a Romance, a subgenre of comedy, Caliban is the only one who doesn’t get his happy ending or its not even alluded to. Once Ariel brings Caliban, Trinculo, and Stefano, Caliban only scolds himself for being silly.

“Ay, that I will; and I’ll be wise hereafter, and seek for grace. What a thrice-double ass was I to take this drunkard for a god and worship this dull fool!”(5.1.298-301).

And that’s the last we really see of Caliban. His spirit is completely downtrodden, never to try again to reclaim his land because he feels so overpowered by the power of Prospero. Even though it would be easier for him to try again since Prospero gave up his magic.


4 thoughts on “Caliban’s turn

  1. Samantha Meyer

    I agree with your interpretation of Caliban as a character who is downtrodden and has been harmed in the past. After the class discussion about Caliban and whether he was a guilty character or a non-guilty character in relation to the rape of Miranda, I personally realized that I did feel bad for Caliban (even more than I thought I had before) and saw him as a non-guilty character. Even though it can be argued that he knew what he was doing and he raped Miranda out of spite and want for power, I personally feel that there is a moral boundary that Miranda may not have clearly stated with Caliban. Your use of this particular scene as proof works as a way of showing that no matter how hard Caliban tries, he just can’t seem to get those around him to follow in the same way that Prospero gets the spirits to follow him. Caliban is weak in his attempts at taking back what is rightfully his, and will surely not see a happy ending.

  2. pamsutherland

    Caliban is definitely abused but for good reason. When Prospero and Miranda first arrived at the island they were not cruel to Caliban. They all lived together in peace. Caliban: “When thou camest first,
    Thou strok’st me and made much of me, wouldst give me
    Water with berries in ’t, and teach me how
    To name the bigger light, and how the less,
    That burn by day and night. And then I loved thee”
    It wasn’t until Caliban tried to rape Miranda that Prospero began abusing him.
    As we discussed in class, there were many nonhuman characteristics about Caliban; it’s not just his lack of European decent.

    In the end I wonder what was the fate of Caliban. We are left to assume that everyone on the island is leaving for Europe. I assumed this meant that Caliban was either taken as a slave or abandoned on the island. I’d like to believe that since Prospero was willing to forgive every other person on the island and move past their misdeeds, he would do the same for Caliban by allowing him to stay on the island where he would be king of himself and Miranda would be safe from him.

  3. awalker845

    I agree with you that Caliban gets “the short end of the stick.” The island was technically his since his mother ruled it previously. I think the only reason he attempted to rape Miranda was because he was furious with Prospero for taking control of the island, and this was the way to show his anger. Especially since Caliban was gracious enough to show him around the island when he first landed there. I think Prospero’s plan all along was to enslave or kill Caliban. He just needed to learn about the new land he was banished to. I too thought that it would’ve been easy for Caliban to make another attempt to attack Prospero. He could have been successful on his own if Ariel didn’t overhear him, and if he lost the two drunks and went alone.

  4. tarabutler93

    Caliban is certainly an interesting character and more clever and conniving than his captures give him credit for. I agree that there are many instances in which he feels persecuted and thinks he could have succeeded in his plots had it not been for other people getting in his way. He is sort of pathetic, especially by the end of the play.


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