Eng1020E October 25, 2011
Reflects tension between politics and art/magic (right down to the setting of the play).
Meta-theatre – a play about the making of theatre (Prospero is like the stage director).
What is an ideal human society? What does this place say about human society?
o One man alone on the island conquered by Prospero.
o An ambiguous character. It is impossible to know someone unless one comes in
from the outside. Thus the only way the reader sees Caliban is through the eyes
of the other –the European.
From this European view, Caliban is looked at as a savage (358).
He is also called (Act II Scene II Line 138) a monster by Trinculo and
Stephano. In the Great Chain of Being, Caliban is the lowest – a monster
and savage being.
Act IV Scene I: Prospero calls him a “born devil.”
o Caliban was originally a friend of Prospero‟s when Prospero came to the island.
It begins as a loving relationship when Caliban showed his now-master
everything there was to know about the island. However the relationship
between the natural man and the European man dissolves and becomes one of
authority and abuse.
o The change in their relationship was initiated by Caliban‟s attempt to rape
Prospero‟s daughter. Prospero defends his daughter‟s rights and purity, and is
offended. What is natural to Caliban is not natural to Prospero.
o It has now become a slave vs. master relationship. The power hierarchy thus
manifested itself. (Caliban is called the abhorred slave by Miranda.)
o Caliban is seen as morally depraved (unable to know right from wrong).
o It is instinctive to resist tyranny. It is natural for one (Caliban) to resist
conquering and to reach out to one more powerful than the tyranny. In this case
this stronger person is Stephano (a drunken idiot; a servant to the lords at home;
low on the hierarchy). However, all that Caliban sees is that Stephano is white –
and worships him.
o What it says about the native character: he is naïve, animalistic and childlike.
o Even now, society justifies killing them off by regarding them as demon-like,
savage, and animalistic.
o Prospero has turned Caliban from the lord of his own island, to his own personal
slave. “I have used thee filth as thou art? I have treated thee with utmost care.
Until you violated my daughter.”
o He was viewed as a noble savage (and the natives of the past are still viewed as
noble savages today). This refers to the fact that they are not formally educated, but are now familiar with the ways of the Europeans as well as the oneness with
nature and understanding of the earth.
o Act II Scene II Line 160: “Let me bring thee where crabs grow…” References to
the abundance of the earth. Caliban is determined to help his “god”
o Act III Scene II Line 130: The noble savage is sensitive to nature‟s beauty.
Caliban admits that the island is full of noises. He eludes to the music and voices
of the island. “That when I waked, I cried to dream again.” It is like a dream
being on this island – he‟d rather not wake up. While Caliban is a “devil
monster” (according to the Europeans) he is also a “noble savage.”
o Stephano‟s initial plan when he sees Caliban is to take him back to England to be
displayed as a freak and spectacle from the new world. He makes it clear that
people will pay big money to see the noble savage.
The play is an act of European colonization.
Arrival of the Europeans
o Act II Scene I: The King fears he has lost his son, and Gonzalo is portrayed as an
optimistic character (although we have lost a lot, look at all that we have gained).
o No man is alone – we must live in communities. What is the perfect
commonwealth (group of people that constitute a nation or state)? Gonzalo
believes that everything should be shared equally and everyone has the right to a