The epilogue of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, while separate from the body of work preceding it due to the nature of an epilogue, it is an integral part of the work. It provides resolution to an otherwise unresolved piece, and the piece actually prepares for the epilogue by mirroring it throughout the play.Throughout the play, themes of power and magic develop, complementing each other so that ultimately, the nature of Prospero’s power can be either revered, or reduced to smoke and mirrors. Prospero’s power to administer pain gives him control over Ariel and Caliban. However, with many of the other characters, control is gained by illusions – sometimes pleasant, and sometimes upsetting. Prospero makes Ferdinand follows Ariel’s music’s “sweet air,” but he confounds Caliban, Stephano, and Trinculo by adding a faceless voice, which disturbs them, and makes them quarrel. Prospero doesn’t actually make anyone do anything; he appeals to their senses in either a positive or negative way, and their response to these sensations brings about an action Prospero required. However, by the play’s end, it is never resolved whether Prospero had any real power, or was simply manipulative enough to get what he wanted. This will be resolved in the epilogue.The epilogue is a monologue delivered by Prospero. The play is over in the sense that no more action is to be taken by the characters. However, the play is not really over at all. Prospero’s still there rather than a closed curtain. He has stepped out of the completed “play.” His character is greatly changed though. Prospero was an omnipotent character who brought about everything in the play. Now that the play is over, and everyone is gone, there seems to be nothing left for Prospero to control, leaving him powerless. Yet he claims to still have some “faint power” of his own. If power requires someone to have power over, then someone besides the other characters is subordinate to Prospero. This can only be the audience. He continues by making a plea, asking that the audience applaud the play, sending him back to Naples, and he says that if we don’t, he will remain trapped on his island.As mentioned above, the epilogue is mirrored in the play, and through comparing this mirroring in Act IV, Scene I, it is easier to determine the purpose of the epilogue, and to answer the question of Prospero’s power.Prospero brings spirits to act in a sort of play for Ferdinand and Miranda. When Ferdinand begins to speak, Prospero tells him to be silent “or [his] spell is marred” (line 127.) What is most important in this comparison of the mini-play of Act IV Scene I to the large play of the pre-epilogue Tempest is found at the end of the mini-play. Prospero tells Ferdinand that these actors were spirits, which “melted… into thin air,” (147-149) and he continues to compare these actors to the world (it is important to note that their “world” is their own literary world, as this is the only world they have access to), and finally to themselves: “We are such stuff as dreams are made on” (155-156.)Prospero has also created a larger play, The Tempest. This is why Prospero, in his play, refers to the nature of their world, and themselves as “stuff dreams are made on.” The spirits in the mini-play are same “stuff” as the characters in The Tempest, including Prospero. This confines The Tempest to the same rules as the mini-play, and consequently our attention to the play sustains the character’s existence. The audience’s response to the play determines Prospero’s very existence. What Prospero gives the audience to sense may be ignored or imagined (dreamed;) if we ignore it, it simply fails to exist.Returning to Prospero’s plea, the island and Naples are simply icons. Having reached this point in the play, we have already allowed Prospero to exist on his island. He says that if we applaud his play, he will go to Naples. We can imagine him returning to Naples because the play was moving in this direction when it ended, but this requires the audience’s imagination, and if the play isn’t given a second thought, then Prospero would never leave the island.So where is Prospero’s “faint” power if everything down to his very existence relies on the audience? Like Ferdinand, the audience is witnessing mere illusions. All throughout the play, Prospero has wielded a great deal of power simply by appealing to other character’s senses, and now, it is clear that he has been doing the same to the audience. While this gives him no direct power to make the audience do anything, if he has succeeded, then the audience will applaud, and Prospero will have “made” the audience applaud, the way he “made” all of the other characters act.The epilogue drastically changes the nature of The Tempest by making it all another of Prospero’s illusions, and by showing the power of Prospero for the sort of “stuff” it is. Every exhibition of Prospero’s power pointed to this epilogue. The first time we imagined that there was anything actually happening or existing – that there was a man addressing a boatswain – we were under Prospero’s power in the same way that the characters of the pre-epilogue Tempest are. The epilogue also brings closure to the play by letting the audience answer the question of Prospero’s power, allowing the audience to choose to be controlled or not. The entire play is thus redefined and resolved in the epilogue.

The Tempest and Its Woman – Masked Theme

The abandoned damsel, the lonely daughter, the beautiful virgin… In The Tempest, Shakespeare depicts all of these ideal constructions of womanhood in his character Miranda. However, looking closely at the text reveals that Shakespeare had a subtle, but clear message to send to his royal audience of the early 17th century. In allowing Miranda to defy the patriarchal traditions of her day in the way she speaks to her father, in her defiance of him, and in her impulsive decision to marry Ferdinand, Shakespeare develops his message of frustration with the absolutism of the monarchy.Among all of the main characters in The Tempest, Miranda seems tosay the least. While her limited amount of speech could present a weakness in her character, Miranda’s scarce but skilful choices of words seem to be a strategy on Shakespeare’s part. By presenting her as a quiet, humble daughter, Shakespeare reveals to his audience a naive construction of womanhood that would estray them from hearing Shakespeare’s ulterior thematic. To discover the meaning and significance of Shakespeare’s underlying message, one must look back to the time period in which The Tempest was written. Elizabeth I’s respected reign had recently ended. Her successor, James I began to rule in a much different manner than Elizabeth; Elizabeth recognized the power of her subjects, James ideas of absolute power placed him in the highest of classes, and allowed him to do as he pleased. This made his reign very controversial and led him to be disliked by many religious groups. When James came to the throne, his family became financial supporters of London’s theatres, including Shakespeare’s company. Shakespeare’s actors would do regular performances for the royal family, and this is where the subtlety in Miranda’s character becomes so vital. Obviously, Shakespeare did not agree with the way James ran post-Elizabethean England. The fact that Miranda is a lone female character in a play in which she defies a level of patriarchy that is similar to the way the current King rules his country is not a coincidence. William Shakespeare is sending a direct message to the King of England that he disagrees with the way he is ruling. Basically, Shakespeare wrote the character Miranda to parallel the rule of Elizabeth, and to clash with the reign of James. Most members of the audience would never hear this message, which would of course be beneficial to Shakespeare because any play-writes who offend the crown could be sent to prison. Shakespeare was, in his own way, outwitting the man who had the most power in England, second only to God.Shakespeare begins this thematic protest in the very beginning of the play. He sets up the limited, and sympathy-evoking life of Miranda early in the first scene, and quickly opposes it with her response to the tempest that is brewing over the sea: “If by your art, my dearest father, you have put the wild waters in this roar, allay them” (Shakespeare 6). Because The Tempest was written in the year 1610, the picture of women that it presents is very different from the average women of the 21st century. Around this same time period, the essayist Richard Steele described women as “…Daughter[s], sister[s], wive[s] and mother[s], mere appendage[s] of the human race” (Davis 15). Obviously, individuality was frowned upon, as was speaking out against one’s father or husband. In this first scene, even though Prospero has the ultimate power in controlling the island, and the tempest, Miranda doesn’t hesitate to reveal her thoughts, and ask her father to stop the dangerous storm. Miranda is able to voice her opinion in a graceful way, (“my dearest father”) however, she still speaks out against her father’s actions. This is an area in which most women and daughters would not be heard. In this act alone Miranda is speaking out against an absolute power figure, her father.Miranda defies her father again when she reveals her name to the enslaved Ferdinand:’…I do beseech you, chiefly that I might set it in my prayers, What is your name?”Miranda. O my father, I have broke your hest to say so!’ (Shakespeare 49)In this circumstance, Miranda has gone behind her father’s back, and specifically ignored a request her father asked of her. Even worse still, she is not supposed to see Ferdinand, and yet she goes to him when she thinks her father is unaware of it. She then offers to do the work her father has assigned Ferdinand to do:’Alas, now pray you, Work not so hard! I would the lightning had Burnt up those logs that you are enjoined to pile! Twill weep for having wearied you. My fatherIs hard at study; pray now rest yourself;He’s safe for these three hours…If you’ll sit down, I’ll bear your logs the while.Pray give me that: I’ll carry it to the pile.’ (Shakespeare, 48)It would be an absolute atrocity for a woman of the 17th century to specifically go against her father’s will and meet with a man that she is not related to either by marriage or blood. This is not to say that courting did not take place in this time period, but rather it was regulated and arranged by the father, or legal guardian.Marriage was also an arrangement made by a young bride’s father. Although, in this particular situation, Miranda decides on her own accord that she will marry Ferdinand:’I am your wife if you will marry me;If not, I’ll die your maid. To be your fellowYou may deny me; but I’ll be your servant,Whether you will or no…My husband then?”Ay, with a heart as willing as bondage e’er of freedom.Here’s my hand.”And mine with my heart in’t…’ (Shakespeare 51)Not only does Miranda not wait for Ferdinand to ask Prospero for her hand in marriage, she asks Ferdinand herself. This of course takes her father out of all aspects of the decision, which would be an extreme rarity for the time:From the moment a girl was born in lawful wedlock, irrespective of her social origins she was defined by her relationship to a man. She was in turn the legal responsibility of her father, and her husband, both of whom she would honour and obey. The duty of a father, was to provide for his child until marriage, when he negotiated a settlement for his daughter with a groom. (Davis 16)On the surface, Miranda’s ideas of getting married seem sweet and innocent, as the reader knows she is a virgin, and in love for the first time. Although, when one looks deeper, this marriage is completely against the patriarchal traditions and regulations of her time, and could even be viewed as a slight towards her father.In writing the play The Tempest, William Shakespeare was not only able to create a character who portrayed the typical constructions of womanhood, but he was also able to use this female image as a mask for an underlying thematic. Miranda was the perfect character to use in a plot full of men to send a message about patriarchy; a message that Shakespeare parallels to absolutism, which in turn subtly mocks the rule of King James I. The fact that Shakespeare’s plays remained so popular and favoured throughout his life leads one to believe that the King never realized Shakespeare’s minor, but clever protest. One can only imagine the anger that King James would feel being ridiculed by any member of the lower class, let alone an actor, or even worse still, an actor playing a woman.

Painting With Words: Language as Art in The Tempest

In Shakespeare’s romance, The Tempest, Miranda instructs Caliban, “I endowed thy purposes / With words that made them known” (I.ii.357-8), affirming the power of language to transform the insubstantial into a forceful and purposeful entity. As Prospero conjures up tempests, masques, and spells, Shakespeare creates a linguistic pageant of lush imagery, tense staccato exchanges, straight-forward narration, and lyrical songs to intensify different moments in and expose major themes of the play. The Tempest begins with an abrupt, monosyllabic exchange between the Boatswain and Master that evolves into a series of confused, frenzied conversations ­ tempests of language ­ that convey the helplessness, fear, and consternation faced by the crew. The play moves toward elevated poetry delightful music, and masques of mysticism, all of which converge in Prospero’s poignant valedictory speech in which he surrenders his magic powers ­ after asserting his authority as an artist ­ and proceeds to accomplish the prescribed reconciliations that resolve the drama:Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes, and groves,And ye that on the sands with printless footDo chase the ebbing Neptune, and do fly himWhen he comes back; you demi-puppets thatBy moonshine do the green sour ringlets make,Whereof the ewe not bites; and you whose pastimeIs to make midnight mushrumps, that rejoiceTo hear the solemn curfew; by whose aid(Weak masters though ye be) I have bedimmedThe noontide sun, called forth the mutinous winds,And ‘twixt the green sea and the azured vaultSet roaring war; to the read rattling thunderHave I given fire and rifted Jove’s stout oakWith his own bolt; the strong-based promontoryHave I made shake and by the spurs plucked upThe pine and cedar; graves at my commandHave waked their sleepers, oped, and let ’em forthBy my so potent art. But this rough magicI here abjure; and when I have requiredSome heavenly music (which even now I do)To work mine end upon their senses thatThis airy charm is for, I’ll break my staff,Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,And deeper than did ever plummet soundI’ll drown my book. (V.i.33-57)The sound patterns and connotations of Shakespeare’s language convey Prospero’s temperament. Prospero begins by poetically describing the magical inspiration of fantastical creatures, ascends into a charging affirmation of his power to perform the impossible, and concludes in a gentle tone as he lays his magic powers to rest.Prospero employs images of magic to confirm the potency and beauty of artistic power. In calling upon “elves” (33) and “demi-puppets” (36), or dwarves, – both existent only in the imagination ­ he conveys art’s capacity to transcend nature and humanity with airy wonder. Prospero refers to “moonshine” (37), suggesting the enchantment of the “demi-puppets'” activities, and connoting a sense of the unsubstantial or imaginary, which both he and Shakespeare enliven through art. “Elves,” “demi-puppets,” and “moonshine” illustrate the supernatural elements of Prospero’s artistry and contribute a sense of playfulness and jollity to the serious, tragicomic drama. By recalling the influence of these supernatural powers, Prospero affirms his ability to create out of nothing, to perform the impossible using his artistic powers. Just as the “demi-puppets” craft “green sour ringlets,” Prospero creates tempests, spells, and mini-dramas. Shakespeare’s image of “hills, brooks, standing lakes, and groves” relates the beauty of nature reflected in the supernatural creations. Prospero echoes this poetic beauty with cadences of sound that resonate with lulling musicality: “elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes, and groves, / And ye that on the sands with printless footŠ / puppets Š / Šsour ringlets” (33-4, 36-7). The consonance gives the lines a flowing rhythm and incantatory tone that reinforce the mysticism of both the speech and the play.While his speech begins in a mood of happy fantasy, Prospero soon reminds the audience of his artistic powers that, paradoxically, constitute his whole being and also lead to his exile from Naples and temporary unawareness of Caliban’s death plots upon him. While he credits the elves and dwarves for their “aid” of inspiration, he labels them “weak masters” (41) in a parenthetical aside that sarcastically subverts their abilities by comparing them with the magical powers of Prospero, the authoritative “master.” Prospero leaps into a cascading monologue, comprised of images of power, which presents “a portrait of the artist as an old man” who seeks recognition of his magic. Prospero uses a form of the pronoun “I” twelve times during the speech, which confirms his obsession with his own powers and continues the egotism he displays throughout the play, namely in his dealings with Ariel (I.ii.244-304) and Caliban (I.ii.324-9, 344-8, 365-71).Prospero’s ability to accomplish the impossible reveals an irony in the speech, for who can realistically “bedim / The noontide sun,” “call forth the mutinous winds” (41-2), or set “roaring roar” (44) between the heavens and the earth? Prospero affirms art as a vehicle of creativity and transcendence. No task is too arduous or inconceivable for his capacious imagination to construe. Shakespeare also creates a sense of urgency within Prospero, who delivers this twenty line speech in two sentences (33-50, 50-57). Phrases like “mutinous winds” (42), “roaring war,” “red rattling thunder” (44), and “rifted Jove’s stout oak” (45) convey Prospero’s brewing desire to convey the power of his magic. The alliteration in “roaring war” and “red rattling” creates a mood of madness, which characterizes Prospero as a magician, frantic in his outpourings of emotion. Images of natural disaster ­ winds, earthquakes, and the opening of graves ­ parallel the play’s frenetic speech patterns and illustrate the artist’s influence upon the audience’s imagination. Shakespeare juxtaposes the beauty of “the green sea and the azured vault” (43) with the “roaring war” and “red rattling thunder” created by Prospero, which enforces the power of art to transcend reality. While Prospero cannot literally make the earth tremble or the winds blow violently, he can “shake” the “promontory” (45-6) of his enemies’ imaginations, and, within this realm, can order graves to open, spirits to descend, and tempests to occur. “Roaring” connotes “riotous and noisy revelry” (Oxford English Dictionary), which reverts to the play’s opening scene of noisy confusion caused by the creation of the tempest. Prospero’s “noisy revelry” in this speech confirms his need to emphasize the artist’s power to realize the impossible. Shakespeare characterizes both Prospero’s magic artistry and his own linguistic artistry as “potent,” suggesting authority, great power, and commanding influence, all of which Prospero embodies throughout the play. He becomes a “potentate,” both the designer of the play’s dramatic schemes and the emblem of its acute artistry. The language of Prospero’s speech illustrates his fluctuating emotions: complacent happiness, powerful authority, and collected tranquility. After his charging defense of his artistic powers, Prospero demonstrates his control over the dramatic action. “But” (50) signals a shift in temperament, as Prospero decides to “abjure” (51) his “rough magic” (50) and incite the play to its anticipated conclusion. In a parenthetical aside, he admits that even the magician who, “by the spurs plucked up / The pine and cedar” (47-8), needs the assistance of “some heavenly music” (52) in accomplishing his tasks. This reference, “(which even now I do)” (52), opposes his previous aside, “(Weak masters though ye be)” (41), illustrating Prospero’s declining artistic vitality and anticipating the dramatic surrender of his powers.Prospero imparts a commanding authority even in his artistic farewell. He does not delicately set his magic wand aside, but “break[s] [his] staff” (54) and “bur[ies] it certain fathoms in the earth” (55). Similarly, he does not gently place his book of magic in his library, but “drown[s]” it “deeper than did ever plummet sound” (56-7). The hyperbole illustrates Prospero’s obsession with both his art and himself, which he consolidates as a single entity. Despite his powerful emotions conveyed through metaphor, overstatement, and sound patterns, Prospero fades into nothingness by the play’s conclusion. His epilogue is a plea for applause and recognition: rather than boasting about his magical powers, he begs, “Release me from my bands” (E.i.9). This speech illustrates Prospero’s decline from mystical happiness and powerful emotion to a gentle, controlled abandonment of his magic, and leaves the audience questioning whether, after all of his efforts to reconcile his enemies, Prospero really prospers.Prospero notes the “airy charm[s]” (54) that his magical powers effect upon Ferdinand, Miranda, and his enemies. “Airy” connotes something both “imaginary” and “visionary,” but also “composed of air” (Oxford English Dictionary). Prospero gives “air,” or substance, to the unreal through his magic. Similarly, Shakespeare’s drama exists only in the imagination until the reader or actor enlivens it by infusing physical breath to empower the words on the page. Art gives breath to the imagined, the unknown, and the seemingly impossible. Just as Prospero the magician “bedims / The noontide sun” (41-2) and creates the “rough magic” (50) of the tempest, Shakespeare the poet incarnates the unsubstantial through his language. His “gentle breath” fills the “sails” (E.i.11-12) of the reader’s imagination, setting them afloat in the adventurous waters of artistic creativity. On one level, Prospero’s speech initiates his apex as an artistic magician and propels the ensuing resolutions in the larger drama. On another, however, it symbolizes the poet’s power to paint with words, to create an ordered depiction of the imaginary, and to “give,” as Theseus insists in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “to airy nothing, / A local habitation and a name” (V.i.16-17). Works Cited”Airy.” The Oxford English Dictionary. 2nd ed. 1989.”Potent.” The Oxford English Dictionary. 2nd ed. 1989.”Roaring.” The Oxford English Dictionary. 2nd ed. 1989.Shakespeare, William. A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Ed. Wolfgang Clemen. New York: Penguin, 1998.Shakespeare, William. The Tempest. Ed. Robert Langbaum. New York: Signet, 1998.

Love and Magic Intertwined

In William Shakespeare’s final play, The Tempest, the playwright intertwines love and magic, creating one of play’s the major themes. Prospero, the protagonist, uses magic to plan the events of this comedy. The first act of magic is the tempest and the subsequent shipwreck in Act I, scene i. The victims wash up on the shore of Prospero and Miranda’s island. Of the survivors, Ferdinand, Prince of Naples, wanders aimlessly around the island by himself until Ariel, a magical spirit, guides him to Miranda. As planned, they fall in love at first sight; from that point on their relationship is seemingly perfect. However, the inexperience of Miranda combined with Ferdinand’s fragile state of mind, raises questions about their infatuation. The audience can assume one of two things: the first, that their love is real, or the second, that their love is simply the result of Prospero’s magic. Based on evidence in the script, one can conclude that the love between Ferdinand and Miranda is not an act of fate, but rather the result of Prospero’s magic.From the beginning of Ferdinand and Miranda’s relationship, all aspects of their love are too perfect. Ariel’s music, “with its sweet air” (I.ii.448), leads Ferdinand to Miranda. The songs of the magical spirit enhance the aura of love and seal their relationship with a sense of perfection. Miranda’s first words to Ferdinand allow him to recognize her language as his own, “My language! Heavens!” (I.ii.488). Their common tongue permits them to communicate their emotions with ease. “At first sight/ They have changed eyes,” (I.ii.503-504) offering themselves as slaves to one another. Prospero’s magic makes their love an easy task, and seemingly too perfect. As an obstacle, he believes he should “uneasy make” (I.ii.517) their rapidly progressing, adolescent love. However, Ferdinand, performing menial laborious tasks, enjoys every moment, given his undying devotion to Miranda. Together, the mood, the language, and the dedication justify an unconditionally perfect love typically not based on reality. “Real” love, usually has more depth that has been developed through conflict and resolution. In its very perfection, the love of Ferdinand and Miranda seems solely driven by Prospero’s magic.Both the suddenness of their love and their naïveté further suggests a magical basis for their love. Ferdinand is the third man that Miranda has ever seen, “the first/ That e’er (she) sighed for” (I.ii.509-10). “Nor have I seen/ More that I may call men than you, good friend,/ and my dear father” (III.ii.59-61), Miranda asserts to Ferdinand. She has lived a sheltered life, not knowing “One of (her) sex; no woman’s face” (III.i.57-8) and knowing only two men: her goodly father, and Caliban. Caliban is immoral and represents the “animal nature” that Prospero has sheltered her from until now. She has never experienced love or lust making her more susceptible to act on sudden impulses. Ferdinand, on the other hand, has “liked several women, never any/ With so fun soul (as Miranda’s)” (III.i.51). However, he has a similar state of mind to Miranda’s. He speaks of his “drown’d father” (I.ii.459), who he believes to have died in the tempest. Both Miranda and Ferdinand are equally naïve, contributing a great deal to their relationship. To Miranda, Ferdinand is a “thing divine” (I.ii.747). Miranda is Ferdinand’s escape from grieving for his father. She replaces his sorrow with happiness. Prospero uses his magic to orchestrate their love; letting them feel things they have never felt before.Although it is clear that Prospero’s magic is the major controlling force in their relationship, there is a possibility that fate works in duality with magic. Although the magic is his own creation, Prospero never seems to be satisfied. An example of Prospero’s dissatisfaction is in Act I, scene ii, when Prospero is disgruntled by the extent of his daughter’s new love. While his magic began the infatuation, it seems that fate takes over, diminishing the power of his magic. Critics over the centuries have argued that there is a devious side to Prospero. But, what if there is more to it? What if there is the possibility that fate works in a duality with magic? This assumption would explain not only Prospero’s personality changes, but also the inexhaustible twists in the storyline. It may be that fate does in fact take part in the plot, only to be masked by Prospero’s magic.William Shakespeare often presents the convention of “love at first sight” in his works. In The Tempest, he warns the audience of the illusory nature of this type of love. Although Miranda and Ferdinand’s love seems perfect, it sparks conflict as it does for Miranda and Prospero. Accidentally, Miranda breaks the promise with her father that she would not speak to Ferdinand. But, she is taken over by the magic of the love, controlling her actions. Both characters have focused on nothing but one another; they have no concern for anyone or anything. Because of Prospero’s magic, Miranda and Ferdinand, although in love, are complete strangers. They are simply two naïve adolescents under a spell, acting on impulses.

The Sensitive Beast: Shakespeare’s Presentation of Caliban

Caliban is certainly one of the most complex and contradictory characters in Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”, at different points embodying the poetic, the absurd, the pathetic, and the savagely evil. For this reason, he is also one of the most interesting and fiercely debated of Shakespeare’s characters. It is hard to imagine how Shakespeare intended Elizabethan audiences to respond to the character of Caliban. He was doubtless very popular, since he was created during a time of increased exploration, an era during which tales of monsters and strange new worlds began to return to England. However, there is far more to Caliban than his monstrous appearance, and although the play was written primarily for entertainment purposes, Caliban’s role surpasses that of the island’s “devil creature”. Indeed, the question of Caliban’s importance is still debated hundreds of years after his inception: is he the savage, inherently evil beast that Prospero considers him, or is there more to Caliban than first impressions would suggest?Caliban is certainly not a pleasant or polite character. He has the appearance of a “freckled whelp hag-born, not honoured with a human shape” and “a very ancient and fish like smell.” These descriptions encourage the audience’s disgust for Caliban’s monstrous appearance. There is also cause for thinking that Caliban is rather stupid: Prospero refers to him as “dull thing”, and his allegiance to Stephano on the basis of “celestial liquor” is so ill-advised as to be asinine. As the conspirators carry out their ridiculous plot against Prospero, Shakespeare makes the trio into laughable characters, presenting Caliban as a comic character unable to formulate or carry out a plan. However, it is Caliban’s insolence and ingratitude that inspire Prospero’s and Miranda’s dislike. Caliban himself tells us that when they first arrived on the island they “strok’st [him], and made much of [him]…and then [he] loved [them]”, but Prospero immediately points out that Caliban then “didst seek to violate the honour of [his] child”, and shows no remorse for the fact. Through this exchange, Shakespeare highlights Caliban’s apparent ingratitude: in Elizabethan times, a father would have been well within his rights to treat his daughter’s attacker far more harshly. Caliban’s abuse of language is also significant in highlighting his abuse of Prospero’s kindness. Indeed, he is a “savage” who “wouldst gabble like a thing most brutish”, before Prospero “took pains to make [him] speak” and “endowed [his] purposes with words that made them known.” However, Caliban has taken language, with its infinite possibilities and advantages, and says that “my only profit on ‘t is I know how to curse.” The fact that Caliban debases such a useful tool which, we imagine, was painstakingly taught to him, again highlights Caliban’s lack of appreciation for other people’s efforts.Many people consider Caliban far more than merely unpleasant: there is reason to find him inherently evil. “Caliban’s natural propensity is for evil. His instincts are to satisfy appetite and to avoid discomfort, and to do these things he will lie, betray kindness, and cheat and base himself to any extent.”1 This idea is certainly held by Prospero, and indeed, Shakespeare does not seem to intend us to form a high opinion of this character. Prospero, whose opinions carry authority with the audience, calls Caliban “the son that [Sycorax] did litter here”, suggesting that he is not only ugly, but inhuman. We also learn early on of Caliban’s past, and of his mother: “This damned witch Sycorax” with “sorceries terrible to enter human hearing.” Caliban’s parentage supports the idea that he is inherently evil, as he has deep roots in the black arts, even though he displays no powers of his own. Prospero also refers to Caliban as “Abhorred slave / Which any print of goodness wilt not take / Being capable of all ill!” In Prospero’s opinion, Caliban’s evil nature cannot be changed by acts of good – he has already tried this, to no effect. Instead, he takes the view that Caliban is a slave “whom stripes may move, not kindness.” It seems that the only thing that Caliban will fully respond to is physical punishment, as he has no appreciation of the acts of kindness bestowed upon him by Prospero and Miranda.There are, however, other sides to Caliban: although rarely shown, they add considerable depth and complexity to his character. There are several moments in the play when Shakespeare evokes the audience’s sympathy for him, such as when he meets Trinculo and Stephano. The plot that these three hatch is the “comedy storyline”, but Caliban does show some interesting characteristics, such as his servile nature. Although he claims to bitterly resent Prospero’s authority over him, instead of becoming his own master, his adoption of a new “brave god” who “bears celestial liquor” can be interpreted as a combination of naivety and servility. Personally, I cannot help but feel a little pity for Caliban as he vows to “kiss [Stephano’s] foot; [He’ll] swear [himself Stephano’s] subject”; Shakespeare does seem to use Caliban’s melodramatic worship of Stephano to show audiences a more innocent side to the character. Although it is obvious that this relationship will rapidly deteriorate, Caliban remains devoted to Stephano for some time before realising the error of his ways.Caliban’s plot to kill Prospero, ironically, highlights some of his better qualities. While his allegiance to Stephano is foolish, and their subsequent plan ridiculous, Caliban is nevertheless able to formulate a conceivable plan even under the dulling influence of alcohol. He also displays some skill in persuading Stephano to join in his plot, telling him about Miranda, “a nonpareil” who “will become [his] bed…and bring [him] forth brave brood.” These persuasive techniques, while crude, are effective, and Shakespeare allows us to see that Caliban does have some degree of intelligence. This also provides a parallel to Antonio, whose persuasive techniques are revealed in a plot to kill his master. When the plot is being carried out, it is Caliban who has the sense to tell the others to “tread softly”, and “speak softly” so as not to jeopardise their plans. He is the only one of the three not to be distracted by Prospero’s gaudy clothes, telling the others to “Let it alone, thou fool; it is but trash.” Here, we see Caliban lead two men, prioritising and giving orders, again suggesting that the character has a measure of intelligence.Caliban is also the only character to show any real appreciation of the beauty of the island and the natural world. He is certainly the character most in tune with nature; he has lived in it all his life, and it is he who shows Prospero “all the qualities o’ th’ isle.” Indeed, it is Caliban who gives a particularly moving speech about the island:Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises.Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight, and hurt not.Sometimes a thousand twangling instrumentsWill hum about mine ears; and sometimes voices,That, if I then had waked after long sleep,Will make me sleep again. And then, in dreaming,The clouds methought would open, and show richesReady to drop upon me; that, when I waked,I cried to dream again. (Act III Scene ii)While Prospero is concerned with his magic and Miranda, for all her virtue, makes little comment about the island itself, Caliban makes one of the most moving speeches of the play, one that has become famous for its poetry and vivid eloquence. This speech certainly shows Caliban’s appreciation of the magical properties of the island, truly calling into question the popular idea that Caliban is no more than a beast or a monster. While he may not have an understanding of “good” as defined by the society Prospero inhabits, he certainly appreciates the beauty in nature and displays a sensitivity almost unrivalled in the play. References to “twangling instruments”, “dreaming” and “the clouds…open, and show riches” imply Caliban’s ability to perceive heavenly images. If Shakespeare did, in fact, include these religious connotations deliberately, he seems to be presenting Caliban as different and uncivilised, rather than evil.It seems likely that Shakespeare did not intend to portray Caliban as a villainous stock character. To the contrary, he includes subtleties and complexities that deepen and strengthen the character. While the play was written primarily for entertainment purposes, it is undeniable that Shakespeare’s own interests and opinions are expressed in his plays. Although he did not intend “The Tempest” to convey an explicit message, several themes and ideas running through the play suggest that Shakespeare used the various characters and situations to raise questions and convey certain beliefs.On a purely entertainment level, Caliban is of vital importance to the play. The plot with Stephano and Trinculo is a comic storyline providing light relief from the more serious plots of Antonio and Prospero. This offers the audience a change of mood and pace, preventing the play from becoming too “heavy”. It also allows the play to cater to a wider range of people, giving it “something for everyone”. It is true that Caliban’s character can be taken at face value, as a stock evil character; an easily-identified “bad” character adds colour and variety to the play. However, Caliban also gives audiences some of the most beautiful poetry found in the play: the “isle is full of noises” speech is renowned for its vivid and atmospheric narrative. All of these elements add to the entertainment value of the play and contribute to Caliban’s dramatic significance.To modern audiences, “The Tempest” is an invaluable treatise on the theme of colonisation. Prospero represents the western, “civilised” world, while Caliban is the “savage” who is subjected to the whims of a new society and social hierarchy. Although it is doubtful that Shakespeare actually intended such a debate to arise from this work, I feel that as 20th-century readers we must question whether Prospero’s claim to the island is a fair one, and whether Caliban should be punished for breaking the rules which Prospero himself has imposed. The natural, “savage” world that Caliban inhabits is shown, through his “isle is full of noises” speech, to have a unique beauty of its own. However, this beauty is rejected by Prospero, who introduces his own language, culture, and principles to the island. Caliban, forced into servitude, alarmingly recalls the victims of the slave trade during the era of colonisation.Shakespeare is by no means making a direct statement about the morality of colonisation: this theme only became truly apparent after the process of decolonisation during the 20th-century. However, it appears that Shakespeare does use Caliban to express the idea that the natural world is not necessarily inferior to civilised society. Indeed, a common theme in many of Shakespeare’s plays is the notion that city or court life only detracts from the natural order of things. In “The Tempest”, it is only through a series of events that the sinners are punished and the rightful Duke returned to power. Similarly, in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, it is the events in the forest that solve the problems of the lovers. Shakespeare seems to present audiences with the idea that civilised society is not always desirable, and warns us never to underestimate the value and the power of the natural world.Caliban is also employed in the theme of forgiveness and redemption: in the final scene, Caliban vows to “be wise hereafter, and seek for grace.” Although there is some debate as to the sincerity of this apology, it does suggest that Caliban realises that what he has done is wrong, and has better intentions for the future. It also brings up the idea of mercy. This is the first time that Caliban has not been punished with physical pain by Prospero – he fears that he “will be pinched to death” – and it is only now that he recognises his faults and aspires to correct them. In this scene, Caliban is also contrasted with the other character who plots against Prospero: Antonio. While Caliban makes some attempt to apologze for his misdeeds by accepting his punishment, Antonio says nothing, suggesting that he does not feel any remorse. He finds Prospero’s forgiveness almost impossible to accept and, in the end, we are left wondering which man is more of a monster.It is clear that Caliban’s character is extremely contradictory: he can be poetic or absurd, pathetic or savagely evil. However, it is the combination of these features which make him such a compelling character. While it is impossible to definitely say what makes Caliban so important to “The Tempest”, it seems evident that the character, in all his complexity, contributes greatly to the richness and variety of Shakespeare’s remarkable world.

The Fierce and Mighty Sea; The Dramatic Function of the Powerful and Ever Present Ocean in The Tempest

Images of the fierce and powerful sea are prevalent throughout Shakespeare’s The Tempest. The play opens on a terrible storm at sea and all of the ensuing action takes place on an island that, by definition, is surrounded by ocean on all sides. The sea’s menacing force is evident right from the start of the first act, when the Boatswain incongruously challenges Gonzalo to “use [his] authority” against the squall (I.i.18) . By pointing out that no one – not even a royal councilor – has power over the sea, the Boatswain highlights the sea’s irresistible strength. Even the language the characters use to describe the ocean alludes to its threatening prowess. In Act II, scene I (114) Francisco describes Ferdinand’s swim to shore by saying that he “beat the surges . . .whose enmity he flung aside [in order to stay above the] contentious waves.” By personifying the sea as a malevolent adversary Francisco is testifying to it’s overwhelming power. In light of these, and other descriptions, the sea appears to be a symbol of nature’s potent and vicious power.Because of its prevalence and power, the sea constantly reminds the characters and audience that man is helpless and insignificant in the eyes of nature. Throughout The Tempest extensive ocean imagery speaks to the vulnerability of man, regardless of his or her position in society. Yet, there is no point in the play when the ocean actually harms someone. In fact, one of the individuals shipwrecked in the storm of scene one notes that his clothes seem, “rather new-dyed than stained with salt water.” (II.i.62; Gonzalo) This observation raises some questions about the dramatic function of the ocean. After all, if the vision of a fierce sea is meant to illustrate man’s weakness why doesn’t it cause any man physical harm? To answer this question, and fully understand the role of the sea in The Tempest we must look to the passage in Act I, scene ii where Ariel sings to Ferdinand of his drowned father. The song, which begins “Full fathom five”, speaks of a man killed at sea; even though the audience knows that the man being described is still alive. By analyzing this passage in light of the plays actual events we come to see that the sea is an instrument of change and rebirth rather than death. Specifically, by making the characters aware of their own insignificance the mighty sea forces them to reevaluate their lives. In this light the “sea-change” Ariel sings of can be understood as a rebirth rather than a gruesome death. Throughout the play the ocean serves as a testament to peoples vulnerability. From the first scene the audience is clearly shown that man’s greatest powers are futile in the face of nature’s might. Aboard the distressed ship are two of the most powerful members of society; the King of Naples and the Duke of Milan, Alonzo and Antonio respectively. But it does not take long for the audience to see that all of their Œpower’ is meaningless. On line 15 of Act I, scene i the Boatswain chastises Alonzo and Antonio for pestering him during the sea storm. “When the sea is. Hence! What cares these roarers for the name of king?” The Boatswain knows that angry waves have no sense of a person’s rank or station. By making this observation the Boatswain is pointing out the futility of society’s preoccupation with status and position. As per the Boatswains warning, when the boat splits at the end of the scene Alonzo and Antonio end up in the sea just like everyone else on board the ship.As it turns out, the act one shipwreck that strands Alonzo, Antonio, and the rest of the ship’s passengers is not an accident. The audience soon learns that Prospero, who inhabits the barren island the survivors find themselves on, has engineered the entire storm and the ensuing shipwreck. Prospero is Antonio’s older brother, and therefore the rightful Duke of Milan. Antonio robbed Prospero of his dukedom (with the help of Alonzo) twelve years before the start of the play, by setting him out to sea whence he eventually came to the island. Later in the play, while searching for his son Ferdinand, Alonzo complains that, “the sea mocks our frustrate search on land.” Again the sea is personified as a malicious enemy, daring ridicule the king’s desperate search for his only son. Once more the audience is shown that anyone, even the king of Naples is insignificant when compared to the fierce sea. But what of Prospero’s relation to the sea? After all, how can the ocean make Prospero feel helpless and unimportant if he can control it? To see that Prospero is as subject to the will of the sea as any of the men who were on the ship we need only to look at his own description of his journey to the island. “They prepared a rotten carcass of a butt . . . [and] there they hoist us to cry to th’ sea that roared to us, ” he explains to his daughter (I.ii.145). His story presents the audience with an image of a totally helpless man, holding his baby and crying as he drifts on a small craft in the middle of the vast and uncaring sea. Just as pitiable is Prospero’s remembrance of having, “decked the sea with drops full salt.” What could be more futile than crying into the ocean? These lines prove that there is no one in The Tempest who is not rendered helpless by the fierce sea. While everyone in the play is subject to the sea’s vicious power, there is not a single character who is harmed by the ocean’s waves. We can be certain of this since Ariel, Prospero’s spirit/nymph attendant, assures his master that, “not a hair perished” in the ship wreck. Why then is it so important that the characters recognize their insignificance in comparison with the vast ocean? Why is there so much sea imagery is it does nothing to further the plot? We can answer these questions, and better understand the meaning of the play, by looking at Ariel’s song to Ferdinand in Act I, Scene ii. This key passage is sung to Ferdinand as he wonders about the island looking for his father Alonzo, who Ferdinand assumes is dead.SongFull fathom five thy father lies.Of his bones are coral made;Those are pearls that were his eyes;Nothing of him that doth fadeBut doth suffer a sea-changeInto something rich and strange.Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell: (I.ii.400)Immediately after hearing this song Ferdinand assumes that he has heard the tale of his father’s death, “the ditty does remember my drowned father.” But the audience had already been told that no one was harmed in the shipwreck. In fact, the next scene opens with Alonzo searching the island for Ferdinand. What then is the purpose of this song? To figure that out we must look more closely at the song itself and the story of what happens to Alonzo while he is on the island. The first three lines of “full fathom five” definitely suggest the image of a person who has drowned in the ocean, and whose body has subsequently been taken over by the creatures of the sea. But since we know that Alonzo is still alive we must continue to look at the passage in order to see if any other interpretation is logical. Line four seems to suggest that Alonzo in fact alive, since there is, “nothing of him that doth fade.” In light of this interpretation the song seems to be about some sort of fundamental change, as described in likes five and six. Unfortunately this interpretation leaves two important questions unanswered; What is the nature of the “sea change?” and why is the ocean the central image of Ariel’s song? To answer these questions we need only look at Alonzo’s story.Everything we know about Alonzo before he was on the island is either from what the audience hears of Prospero’s story or what they see of him in the storm scene of Act I. What we know from Prospero is that Alonzo was part of the Antonio’s plot to rob Prospero of his dukedom. What we see in scene i is that Alonzo expects to be treated like a king, even while a raging tempest threatens the lives of everybody around him. Both accounts suggest that Alonzo is a power hungry villain who values position and deference above all else. Yet, as the play goes on our opinion of Alonzo changes a great deal. As he searches the island for his son, he repeatedly wishes that he could give his own life in return for that of his son. This implies that he has come to understand the value of family over position. Similarly, when Alonzo finally see Prospero he immediately promises to return his dukedom to him. Once again showing the audience that Alonzo is not the evil man that he once was. In light of this tale it is suddenly quite easy to answer the questions raised by “full fathom five.” The “sea-change” Ariel sings about refers to Alonzo transformation from a tyrant fixated on power to a loving father and honest man. The sea is the central image of the song, because only after the sea forced him to acknowledge his own insignificance and helplessness was Alonzo able to reinvent himself. The implication is that we must be aware of our own vulnerability in order to have a clear understanding of who we are. In The Tempest the sea is what provides the characters with this sense of helplessness and insignificance. In fact this theme of “sea-change” touches many of the characters in this romance. Antonio’s sees him change from a confident duke into a humbled subject and though it is different it is just another example of Alonzo’s sea change. Specifically, Antonio changes because he cannot take the pressure that is the sea-situation has created. Antonio tries to murder Alonzo, proving that he cannot be trusted and that he is a poor leader. It is because he did not successfully endure the situation the sea put him in the audience feels that it is just for him to loose the dukedom to Prospero by the end of the play. Prospero himself undergoes a change, but his is quite different than that of his brother.Antonio was able to take power from Prospero, because Prospero was more concerned with studying than with ruling. He himself says, “My library, was dukedom large enough,” when he is telling his daughter about his life in Milan (I.ii.109). The Prospero that we see in The Tempest is an excellent ruler who seems to be aware of everything that goes on in his realm. When Ariel asks about his freedom in Act II, Prospero uses just the right mixture of pleading and intimidates to make sure he stays focused on the task at hand. This type of rhetoric is clearly a political skill. And later when Prospero’s malevolent servant leads a plot to murder him, Prospero has everything in hand. He is able to ensure that the plot fails and he punishes the offenders. Finally, in Act V Prospero promises that he shall bury his book, “certain fathoms in the earth, and deeper than did ever plummet sound.” This seems to be a total rejection of the life he lived when he ruled Milan. The implication is that Prospero is now going home to be a fain, yet effective ruler. Once again, this is a change that is possible only because Prospero was forced to withstand the force of the sea and recognize his own faults and weaknesses. In other words, being tossed by the sea and stranded on a barren island gave Prospero a chance to see and change everything he had done wrong when he was the Duke of Milan. In The Tempest the sea functions as a catalyst for personal re-evaluation, forcing people to look past their place in society and focus on who they are and what is truly important. Gonzalo, a councilor of Naples, does the best job of relating to the audience the impact of the sea, and the ensuing sea-changes when he notes that in one sea voyage, “Ferdinand . . . found a wifewhere he himself was lost; Prospero his dukedom in a poor isle, and all of us ourselves,when no man was his own (V.i.213)The last part of this passage implies that even those characters not closely followed by the story, were profoundly changed by their sea experience.In the final lines of Act V, scene I Prospero promises that they will ride “calm seas” all the way to Naples. This implies that the role of the sea as a catalyst for personal realization is no longer necessary, and that is indeed the case. This is true because all of the main characters have had to face the force of the sea and they have all proven themselves worthy leaders or unworthy villains ­ no further judgments need to be made. Because of this the sea no longer needs to remind the characters and the audience of man’s insignificance, it need no longer be threatening. Therefore Prospero’s promise may be realized, and all of the ships passengers may return to Naples without further incident, and the audience may go home knowing that all of the crises of the sea and the island have indeed been resolved.

Caliban’s Enlightenment

“Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises,

Sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not.

Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments

Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices

That, if I then had waked after long sleep,

Will make me sleep again; and then, in dreaming,

The clouds methought would open, and show riches

Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked

I cried to dream again.” (Shakespeare III.ii.148–156).

Herein Shakespeare gives the rights of The Tempest’s most elegant passage to the play’s most vulgar savage. Is it only the classic, comedic Shakespearean irony or does Shakespeare allude to a more discreet facet of his play? Caliban, the ogre-ish son of a witch, slave of Prospero, drunkenly plots with his newfound master, Stephano, and accomplice, Trinculo, to murder Prospero and rule the island. The trio dance off to execute their plan whilst singing an awry tune, until Ariel, Prospero’s servant spirit, invisibly plays the tune with a sort of flute and drum. This melody “played by the picture of Nobody” halts Stephano and Trinculo who now show some fear, to which Caliban beautifully beseeches them to not fear but appreciate the magic and awe of the island he holds so dear. Previously, Caliban has been known to the audience as the spawn of an evil witch, an attempted rapist, and an unbecoming sub-human (III.ii.0–166). With these lines, Shakespeare graces the audience with a new impression of Caliban, who represents the savage native of the colonies, in order to placate the then accepted notion that the various indigene of the colonies were uneducable, monstrous, cannibals.

And who better to eloquently make a case for the savage than the savage himself? Caliban’s again proves his ability to speak intelligently, even while quite intoxicated. The honesty with which his speech is delivered allows his audience to better empathize with his plight. Additionally, Caliban is the least vulnerable of the visible characters in this moment, because he is accustomed to the “Sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not,” unlike Stephano and Trinculo, who nearly cower at the unexpected noise of Ariel (III.ii.148). The transfer of power is also exhibited in the first lines of the speech when Caliban assures his new master to “Be not afeard” (III.ii.149). This revision of power could also be seen as a metaphor contributing to the metaphor of The Tempest as a representation of colonial interactions with the “New World” and its inhabitants. Shakespeare references the tension in the relationship between colonial Europeans and their native counterparts frequently in The Tempest with Caliban as his main agent.

Much irony exists in Caliban’s trusting the melody created by Ariel, because it is something to be feared. The situational irony lies in Caliban’s belief that the music is a good blessing, intended to “give delight and hurt not”, when it is actually Ariel leading the posse into Prospero’s trap (III.ii.149). In the dramatic plane of irony, the three plotters are to be led by the music into a trap, information unbeknownst to them, but known by the audience. The devices that Shakespeare uses to indicate Caliban’s trust in the music serve to emphasize the present ironies. The music is referenced repetitively as “noises,” “Sound,” and “sweet airs,” which are virtually synonymous. Shakespeare, through Caliban, goes on to hyperbolize the music as “a thousand twangling instruments” (III.ii.150). The concentration on the initial lines of the speech that connote Ariel’s treacherous music with goodness culminate in a blaring irony with Caliban at the heart. This irony is attributed to those like Caliban, whom ironically (as we will see) are his new and old captors and their parties alike.

The ability Caliban has to guide the island’s newcomers seems to be one of the only differences between him and the stranded Europeans. In the latter half of Caliban’s passage the subject transitions from the goodness of the noises to the dreams that the noises evoke. “, in dreaming,” Caliban expresses a hope (III.ii.153). This hope is indistinguishable from the hopes of the many stranded on the island- in essence, it is a hope for power. The words “in dreaming” speak literally of a dream Caliban has whilst easily sleeping just after having awoken from slumber, but the words speak indirectly of his inner desires (as dreams are commonly considered to express) (III.ii.153). In his dream, Caliban looks upon clouds expectantly for he had the strong premonition (as dreams are notorious for providing to their beholders) that “riches” would “drop upon” him (III.ii.154-55). The desire, attained or not, of the “riches” symbolizes what every character in The Tempest (save for Miranda possibly) similarly desires, power. The means by which Caliban plans to reach power is also no better than the worst of the play, Sebastian, who also wishes to murder the one whose power he wants, Alonso. The interruption of awakening that Caliban laments on toward the end of his speech foreshadows that he will not attain the full power that he yearns for.

Caliban’s analogous aspirations shown in this passage as those other characters in The Tempest equalizes him to their level from the perception of the audience. Shakespeare brings a complex image of the single dimensioned character that was brought to him by messengers from the new world. By identifying a peripherally different perspective of the savage in contrast with the colonial European as inherently quite similar, Shakespeare bridges the social aperture between two cultures that when met see each other as uncivilized in, ironically, the same differences.


Works Cited

1. Shakespeare, William, Barbara A. Mowat, and Paul Werstine. The Tempest. New York: Washington Square, 2004. Print.

Works Consulted

1. Caliban’s Dream – The Tempest. Caliban’s Dream – The Tempest. Poetry and Prose, 11 Sept. 2008. Web. 29 Sept. 2014.

2. Crowther, John, ed. “No Fear The Tempest.” SparkNotes LLC. 2005. Web. 2 Sept. 2014.

3. “national association of securities dealers automated quotation.” Roget’s 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition. Philip Lief Group 2009. 30 Sep. 2014. .

4. The Tempest. Dir. Julie Taymor. Perf. Helen Mirren and Djimon Hounsou. Touchstone, 2010. Online.

Liminal Space in The Tempest

It appears that all comedies throughout all ages relies on the accuracy of its meta-commentary, all successful comedies inhabit a illusionary world filled with flickering shadows of truth and mirrors filled with elements of human behaviour. In many ways comedy takes our human experience out of our sheltered reality and into a liminal space that accentuates how strange, and in many ways mad, our life really is. The idea in question, then, is whether The Tempest does conform to this rule and to other conventional laws that a standard comedy does.

The Tempest blurs the edges of what is real, and what is not, so effortlessly and so quickly throughout the plot that it can be considered toppling over the metaphorical edge of reason towards a chaotic illusion, however, the comedic structure holds the play together and preventing it from entering a genre closer the Theatre of the Absurd with no classic resolution. To achieve this affect Shakespeare initially takes away one of humanities greatest frameworks: time. Although the play moves in a chronological fashion there are no clocks featured and no mention of day by any of the characters when speaking of the island which moves the play away from our relatable world. Prospero mentions time to Miranda when talking about Naples, as he states his usurpation was “one midnight” (i), despite this being a fleeting phrase it separates Naples and the Island, which is separating our world from this new liminal space of The Island. The time element provides certainties when humans are confused of a series of events, and now that it is taken away nothing is provable and therefore cannot be thought of as real or ever happening. Throughout the plot there is also evidence that illusion is powerful on this Island for instance the stage direction “the banquet vanishes”(ii) which is contrary to anything that could actually happen in the real world. Shakespeare then emphasises the distance between The Island and our reality as Gonzalo asks “If in Naples I should report this now, would they believe me?”(iii) The answer is no, but normal rules of physics do not apply to The Island or to any liminal spaces in comedies; the Island is on a membrane of physics. Many parallels can also be made between a dream and The Tempest because many of their characteristics are familiar; in a dream ultimately nothing matters, in the same way that The Tempest follows the structure of, exposition, complication but then eventually resolution which is the joyous event in which the characters end the play in a mood better than they entered it with and so the characters have not really suffered. Throughout the play Shakespeare allows the characters to slip in and out of consciousness under the whims of Prospero at one point there is a stage direction that commands “all sleep”(iv). Shakespeare’s last address also contains the lines “We are such stuff that dreams are made on” (v)This added element of dreaming only adds to the already distorted undefinable new reality found on The Island.

In the Jacobean era it would have been very hard to achieve this effect of The Island being on the edge, and much of how the audience interpreted the play would have been reliant on the staging techniques used by the theatre companies. However, Shakespeare does allow for the difficulties of staging a storm that enters the characters into the realm of illusion and so uses language to show the audience that they are now to view the play with no such certainties. One technique in particular is very effective is the dialogue at the very beginning of the play because the audience can clearly differentiate the social status of the characters onstage due to clothing and the way they speak, characters of higher status speak in iambic pentameter, but then Shakespeare breaks down the foundations of hierarchy by making The Boatswain’s lines commanding and authoritative which is very unusual as they are towards the King Of Naples, such as when he orders them to “”to cabin. Silence!” (vi). The audience can now understand that The Island is not their reality because working class labourers are commanding Kings and Dukes, the antithesis between the Boatswain and the King would be very clear on stage and to some extent amusing for the Jacobean audience.

Many critics have thought about The Tempest as a comedy or a tragedy and as tragi-comedy due to the different elements supporting each in the play. The idea of an overshadowing gloomy presence is achieved throughout by the constant plots of revenge and murder, these include Caliban, Sebastian and Antonio and although the plots are never fulfilled there can still be considered an underlying evil surrounding the characters. Therefore, the play is also on the edge genres; as it contains multi-layered plots but does not maintain the law that in tragi-comedies the controlling characters are ugly. At the time of The Tempest’s release no much debate would have arisen because our modern audience empathises with Caliban. The slightly wistful stage direction “Exeunt Caliban”(vii) has sparked much discussion of whether Caliban gets his resolution, and if not, is the play a comedy? Similarly a modern audience has pondered post-play whether Antonio and Sebastian will be punished any further for their attempted murder or whether they will attempt to overthrow Alonso again, evidence that they will can be found in the line “O’ but one word” (viii) which suggests that Sebastian is so close to killing Gonzalo and has no moral quarrels to do so which makes the modern audience think that another usurpation is imminent. One must also take into account the interpretation of the Jacobean audience because they would argue that the play is not on the edge of the two genres because there is a clear resolution for all the human character; they would go on to explain that Caliban is a stereotypical, one dimensional native who belongs on The Island so he gets his classical “happy ending”. I, as a modern member of a modern audience, respond differently to the Jacobean audience, and I maintain that Caliban has been brought into the realm of humanity and education because of Prospero, Shakespeare makes it explicit that Prospero has done this in the lines “Took pains to make thee speak” (ix) and because of this education Caliban is now trapped on the liminal space forever where he cannot converse or progress on his new education, through this it is clear that Caliban is left in a worse situation than he was before Prospero arrived so he is a tragic character. Once again the Jacobean audience would find this view perplexing because to them Caliban is an aesthetic of exaggeration and anti-humanism that is fundamentally interesting to them, and often humorous. An eminent critic also agreed with their stance stating “We find him (Caliban) only laughably horrible and as marvellous, though at the bottom, a feeble monster, highly interesting, for we see from the first that none of his threats will be fulfilled” (x) Shakespeare has allowed, depending on how he is portrayed, for Caliban to be ridiculed by the audience on a higher level than any other character, the modern audience holds empathy with Caliban which is what makes the genre so hard to define.

Prospero, as a character, can be considered on the edge for a number of reasons. Firstly he is on the edge of being God as he has the characteristic of one; he is omniscient, omnipotent and arguably omnibenevolent. On the other hand the theory that Prospero is a metaphor for God means that the Island has to be intrinsically though as: completely not on the edge. One critic has even likened The Island to The Garden Of Eden “Prospero’s island appears to be an ideal utopia…every character gets what they deserve. Prospero’s island is perfect.” (xi) In my opinion Prospero is not so much as a God because he holds minimal purchase in the real world so he is more as a conjurer and illusionist, all power he has is linked to deception not physical displays of control, even the storm is an illusion because the characters emerge dry from the water. Prospero therefore, for a modern audience, is on the edge of dictatorship and justice. He appears to be a dictator when he sends Miranda to sleep when she wishes to stay awake, or when he makes Caliban serve him as a slave, but he is also presented by Shakespeare as a witty enforcer of justice, such as when he effectively turns Antonio and Sebastian into Il Capitanos from commedia dell’arte as they are arrogant, this is shown when they attack the invisible birds shouting “I’ll fight their legions o’er” (xii) which emphasises their delusion and pompousness, as well as being visibly funny.

In conclusion, I believe that The Tempest can never be solely defined as inhabiting a liminal space and being on the edge because so much of the play’s effect and nature depends on the portrayal of the play and the audience’s era and mood. For me, on a personal level, I think that The Tempest does occupy this liminal space because the boundaries between reality and illusion are so skewed, and even the characters who are typically one dimensional stereotypes but rather complex beings are close to leaving this definition and becoming something else entirely.


(i) Act 1, Scene 2, 128

(ii) Act 3, scene 3, 54

(iii) Act 3, Scene 3, 29

(iv) Act 2, Scene 1, 184

(v) Act 4, Scene 1, 157

(vi) Act 1, Scene 1, 16

(vii) Act 5, Scene 1, 298

(viii) Act 2, Scene 1, 290

(ix) Act 1, Scene 2, 354

(x) The Damn: its history, literature and influence on civilisation vol. 13 Edited by Alfred Bates.

(xi), The Tempest summary

(xii) Act 3, Scene 3, 54

Fantastical Elements within the Tempest

The “fantastical” elements of The Tempest by William Shakespeare are made evident by the introduction of Ariel, the spirit, Caliban, the son of a witch, and Prospero, a banished duke who has mastered occult powers. Despite what seems to be an expression of gratitude and repayment of debt for their respective rescue from imprisonment, both Ariel and Caliban submissively serve Prospero because they are enslaved by his powers, and are essentially mere instruments to his intricate plan to regain his usurped power. Shakespeare uses the characterizations of Aerial and Caliban and their interactions with Prospero upon an isolated island in the first act to illustrate themes of power, hierarchical order, and law and justice.Ariel is a spirit that appears to be indebted to Prospero and assists Prospero with his own powers as a servant, yet at the same time, Ariel’s relationship with Prospero is not one as simply defined as master and slave. Without a doubt, Ariel is obedient to his “noble master” (1.2.357). Ariel’s exaggerated language when he “answer[s]” (1.2.225) to Prospero with “[his] best pleasure” (1.2.225) and “[his] strong bidding task” (1.2.227) is to the point of sycophantic as he strives desperately to appease Prospero. Prospero also does not pass upon opportunities to re-assert his dominance over Ariel such as when Prospero lets forth a barrage of sarcasm and rhetorical questions when Ariel timidly proposes of his impending freedom. Prospero denounces him as a “malignant thing” and that “if [Ariel] more murmur’st, he will rend an oak / And peg [Ariel] in his knotty entrails till / [Ariel] has howl’d away twelve winters” (1.2.349-1.2.351). Prospero’s hypocrisy is evident, since he seems to force Ariel into submission in a similar way like what Sycorax once did. Yet Prospero does not treat him as a lowly slave. To him, Ariel is more of a respected yet subordinate servant. Despite the fact that he is only a servant, Ariel possesses and controls powers of the elements, that includes flame that “cracks / Of sulphurous roaring” and “dreadful thunder-claps” that he uses to ground the ship at Prospero’s command. Prospero describes Ariel to be a “spirit” (1.2.229) and a “nymph o’ the sea” (1.2.359), further implying that Ariel is a pure figure that represents nature and its elements itself. Shakespeare insinuates that the relationship between Ariel and Prospero is one of mutual dependence, to a certain extent, as Prospero requires Ariel’s elemental powers, while Ariel serves to liberate himself from Prospero’s “earthly” yet constraining magic.Caliban, unlike “quaint” (1.2.380) Ariel, is at the bottom of the social order on the island, condemned to menial labor and be a lowly slave to Prospero, yet in many ways he seems to be also an exaggerated manifestation of Prospero himself. From a literal perspective, Caliban is the offspring of a social outcast, a witch, and a seemingly uncultured brute. This characterization is demonstrated both in his speech and Prospero’s remarks towards him. Prospero refers to Caliban as the “freckeled whelp, hag-born not honored with / A human shape” (1.2.336-1.2.337) that Sycorax has “litter[ed]” (1.2.335) on the island. The pun in Prospero’s description points to Caliban as a social outcast, a piece of litter and garbage, even on an island with four beings, and also hints that Caliban is a foul spawn of an animal. Furthermore, Caliban’s speech is rampant with insults that Miranda describes as “gabble” (1.2.428) of a “thing most brutish” (1.2.429). However, Caliban’s characterization signifies more than an “abhorred slave” (1.2.422) who is “deservedly confined”(1.2.435). In fact, Caliban is an exhibit and embodiment of Prospero’s dark and concealed defects. Caliban, similar to Prospero, is a victim denied of his rightful power. Prospero, once “a prince of power” (1.2.68), is in a comparable situation to that of Caliban, who describes himself as his “own king” (1.2.409) until Prospero denied Caliban “the rest o’ th’ island” (1.2.411). The vile and coarse language that Caliban uses is a physical representation of Prospero’s unseen yet hinted frustration towards Antonio, “a brother…so perfidious” (1.2.86). Caliban’s “profit”(1.2.437) on the language that Prospero has taught him is to “know how to curse” (1.2.438). It seems that Prospero’s own frustration and anger transfers to Caliban who has learned language from Prospero. Prospero’s cold and calloused appearance is a façade of his hidden rage that he feels from Antonio’s betrayal. Caliban is thus a representation of the exasperation that Prospero fails to express himself.The characterizations and interactions of the island’s inhabitants illustrate the reversion of the new law to the old, intrinsic wickedness of humans, and an inversion of hierarchical order. Prospero once treated Caliban “Filth as [Caliban] art, with humane care” (1.2.415), until Caliban “didst seek to violate the honor of [Prospero’s] child” (1.2.417-1.2.418). Prospero once imposed upon Caliban, the New Law, to which Prospero later rejects and reverts to the Old Law as he imprisons Caliban, which fundamentally reinforces that Caliban, as characterized in the first act, is a vile and animal-like brute “got by the devil himself” (1.2.383) and intrinsically encompasses all evil that can be only dealt with by the Old Law. When Prospero commands Caliban to speak by calling him “earth” (1.2.376), Caliban’s unprincipled baseness becomes a figurative reference to all mankind’s earthly and inner vices such as shown in Antonio’s fraternal betrayal and Prospero’s desire to regain power are all indicative of the human capacity and tendency for evil. This capacity of wickedness is further supported in Prospero’s commanding dominance over Ariel, who is the representation of nature as demonstrated in his elemental powers. Ariel is a forced “correspondent to [Prospero’s] command” (1.2.353), yet does “[his] spiriting gently” (1.2.354). Prospero’s use of Ariel’s powers to fulfill his own inner vice, in itself is an inversion of the natural hierarchy, wherein the power of nature should be inherently dominant over the entire existence of mortals.In the first act of The Tempest, Shakespeare characterizes Ariel as a subjugated entity of nature, and Caliban as the lowest of an earthly being. Prospero has seemingly convinced himself that he has the right to rule over Ariel since he rescued him from evil, yet the command over Ariel itself has proven to be an abnormal inversion of the natural hierarchy. Shakespeare’s characterization of both Ariel and Caliban, and portrayal of the interactions between the island inhabitants effectively supports the idea of the existence of a deep and intrinsic human vice.

Caliban: The Monster?

The concept of monstrosity, at an explicit representational level, has followed a set pattern in literature, but it has been politically deployed and modified differently in different contexts. Etymologically, the word “monster” is derived from the Latin monstrum, meaning “that which reveals” — a warning or a portent. It is often used to refer to misshapen or deformed creatures. In Elizabethan England, with the various voyages, discoveries, and travel narratives of the time — such as The Wonders of the East, the Liber Monstrorum, or the Travels of Sir John Mandeville — the connotations of the term extended to the other races. In fact, representing another culture as monstrous often served to justify its displacement, or even its extermination. William Shakespeare’s work boasts of richly crafted characters such as Iago (from Othello), Macbeth, and Edmund (from King Lear) who are often deemed monstrous due to their moral degeneracy and malignancy. Nicholas Royle asserts, “Shakespeare is relentlessly concerned with making up monsters, with what is ‘unacceptable,’ ‘intolerable,’ and ‘incomprehensible’ in characters,” often associating ontological differences (for instance, dark skin in the case of Aaron, the Moor [from Titus Andronicus]) or deformity (the hunchbacked Richard III) with moral depravity. However, it is only in The Tempest (1611) that Shakespeare creates a literal monster in Caliban. Although he dwells on the idea of human bestiality in A Midsummer Night’s Dream when the character of Nick Bottom is transformed into a being with the head of an ass, that monstrosity is treated in the comic mode, and upon Bottom’s transformation back to his normal state, the very idea is relegated to the status of a dream, thereby denigrating its subversive potential. It is only in The Tempest that there is a profound investigation of the concept of monstrosity in human nature, especially — but not exclusively — in the figure of Caliban. In fact, the play is remarkably open to complex and even contradictory interpretations of the nature of monstrosity, which can be thoroughly explored on the basis of the text. The primary focus of this paper is on Caliban, but an attempt is to link the portrayal of that character to the larger question of what constitutes the notion of monstrosity itself, as well as its changing connotations within the context of changing Anglo-American attitudes, and finally to locate the subversive possibility of the interchangeability of the human and the monster by exposing the fragile boundaries that separate them. The implicit threat from the monster’s body arises from its amorphousness and its propensity to change. Because of its fluid nature, the monster’s body presents a disturbing hybridity, which defies the classificatory system of signification. The monster thus becomes an ideal deconstructive symbol, disrupting “the totalizing conceptions of nature and destroying taxonomic logics, at once defining and challenging the limits of the natural” (Milburn). Derrida writes that, “A monster is always alive… Monsters are living beings… A monster is a species for which we do not yet have a name… it frightens precisely because no anticipation had prepared one to identify this figure.” Throughout the text of The Tempest, the precise nature of Caliban’s monstrosity is nebulous. In the 1623 folio, Caliban is described in the cast of characters as a “savage and deformed slave”; since then he has been variously identified as a drunken beast, a perverted form of Montaigne’s noble savage, a Darwinian “missing link,” a “fish man,” and an “ape man,” among others. He comes closest to what David Williams’ taxonomical characterization regards as “Nature Monstrous”: deformed figures of nature that are products of human and animal components combined, or combinations of parts of animals of different species. Conversely, the vague but persistent references to his deformity make it difficult to oust him from the category of what Williams calls the “body monstrous,” which includes the deformation of the body in terms of size, head, or unusual construction or in terms of the use of various body parts. The “freckled whelp,” for example, is the product of the illicit intermingling between the Algerian witch Sycorax and the Devil himself; his ruling deity is Setebos, who was worshipped by the Patagonian natives. He is referred to as “earth,” “hag-seed,” “fish,” “monster,” “a thing of darkness,” “puppy-headed,” “tortoise,” “misshapen,” and “moon-calf” on different occasions in the text. However, none of these terms give a clear idea of either his exact deformity or the precise nature of his monstrosity. Moreover, despite regarding Caliban belonging to a “vile race,” Miranda does recognize that, even with his grotesque features, his form is essentially human; her reference to Ferdinand as “the third man that e’er I saw” inevitably precludes the possibility of the first two being anyone other than Prospero and Caliban. This classification is reaffirmed in Prospero’s implied comparison of Ferdinand, the handsome young prince (“a thing divine”), and Caliban when he states: “to the most of man this is a Caliban.” Jeffrey J. Cohen suggests that “the monster signifies something other than itself; it is always a displacement, always inhabits the gap between the time of upheaval that created it and the moment into which it is received, to be born again.” The monster functions as a dialectical other who is created to maintain the difference in the world of its creators. In fact, it is always a construction, a projection of the fears and anxieties which demonize the subject in the first place. The criterion itself is arbitrary. Any kind of disparity — whether racial, cultural, sexual, or political — can be projected onto the monstrous body. Apart from his physical monstrosity, Caliban is Prospero’s and Miranda’s racial other as well. Even in twentieth-century performances of The Tempest, Caliban’s grotesque physical features were often toned down, but in most cases it was still a black actor (or one adorned with black face paint) chosen to perform the role of the monster. The exaggeration or even distortion of the racial other as a monstrous aberration is a trope found from the classical period onward. In this context, Prospero’s fear for the honor of his daughter can be seen as a fear of the contamination of the purity of the race as well as a fear of miscegenation. It is Caliban’s attempted violation of Miranda’s honor that earns him the wrath of Prospero and for which he is punished. This anxiety is, however, not uncommon; in a patriarchal social formation, the feminine and cultural others are anyways relegated to the margins. Their intermingling therefore is not merely a challenge to the homosocial order of patriarchy: the “unholy” alliance can also lead to a loss of identity. Caliban himself is the product of such a union between the witch Sycorax and the Devil himself. On the other hand, Caliban’s response to the charge of rape associates him with a separate order of existence; as a being that exists in the state of nature, the desire for sexual union without a cultural bond is not unnatural to him, and racial difference does not prefigure as a hindrance to it. Cohen states that the monsters can claim an independent identity only after they are assembled as such through a process of fragmentation and reconfiguration. However, since the difference itself is arbitrary, the monster challenges the system itself — that is, the world of its creators who created the difference in the first place. Observed in this light, Caliban’s attempt to procreate with Miranda — to people “the isle with Calibans” — is not just a manifestation of his raw sexuality, nature taking over nurture. Rather, it is also aimed at removing the difference that has been arbitrarily written on his body. Moreover, Caliban’s plan to assassinate Prospero can be seen as a continuation of this project, as the latter is the cultural apparatus that has produced the meaning in the first place and consequently marginalized him. It is Prospero who brings the cultural norms of his Milanese society to the “uninhabited” island and imposes them. His adherence to those sociocultural norms is evident later in the Ferdinand-Miranda scenes, too; he is constantly on guard despite his own plan to unite the two. In fact, Prospero’s paternalism does not allow any scope for the exercise of any kind of agency in the case of either Caliban or Miranda. Caliban is Prospero’s monster-slave. However, it is not because of the latter’s superiority or the inherent inferiority of the “vile races.” Rather, it is through magic that Prospero keeps Caliban confined to his rock and makes him perform all of his menial tasks. Caliban himself is acutely aware of this. He knows that it is necessary to separate Prospero from his books of sorcery if his plan to kill Prospero is to succeed: “remember / first to possess his books; for without them he’s but a sot as I am, nor hath not / one spirit to command — they all do hate him / as rootedly as I” (Tempest). Although Caliban does not know about the specific presence of Ariel, his observation is not untrue. Prospero might have freed Ariel from the cloven pine where Sycorax had imprisoned him, but he himself is no different. Upon hearing Ariel’s demand for freedom, Prospero calls him “malignant thing” and threatens him: “I will rend an oak / and peg thee in his knotty entrails till / thou has howled away twelve winters” (Tempest). Moreover, from Ariel’s list of activities performed for Prospero, it becomes clear that the latter has used Ariel to indulge his whims and fancies on many an occasion. From this perspective, there is not much difference between Antonio, who usurped Prospero’s kingdom, and Prospero himself. Moreover, by endowing Prospero with supernatural powers and not Caliban, despite his unnatural origins, Shakespeare inverts the hierarchical power relation between the man and the monster. As a consequence of this inversion, not only is Caliban placed in a position of subjugation, but he is also not feared by anyone despite his horrific appearance; in contrast, the human Prospero is dreaded by all. Prospero’s attempts to civilize Caliban can be seen as metaphorically destroying the racial-cultural other — destroying the monster by bringing him under his own influence. His inability to do so on the one hand leads him to an acknowledgement of his own failure: “this thing of darkness I acknowledge my own” (Tempest); but on the other hand, it leads him to vilify the unsynthesizable: “a devil, a born devil, on whose nature / nurture cannot stick; on whom my pains, / humanely taken, all, all lost, quite lost; / and as with age his body uglier grows… I will plague them all” (Tempest). The teaching of language to Caliban by both father and daughter takes on a new meaning in this cultural context. Language becomes an essential tool in establishing power over an environment and its inhabitants — what Stephen Greenblat calls “linguistic colonialism.” They take it for granted that they have introduced language to one who “wouldst gabble like / a thing most brutish”; that Caliban might already have his own language is not even considered as a possibility by the former, an oversight that Caliban points out: “you taught me language… I know how to curse. The red plague rid you / for learning me your (my emphasis) language” (Tempest). Contemporary linguistic theories too prove that the first language is acquired unconsciously; it is only a second language that has to be learned consciously.Moreover, there is disparity between how other people perceive Caliban and what his own thoughts and actions reveal. He is shown as having emotions — in fact, he is almost poetically sensitive to nature — and although gullible, he is intelligent enough to have learned another language, and then further to use that language for resistance rather than servitude. Besides, he has an acute awareness of being used and then displaced, at least in the feudal sense, by Prospero, who for him is a usurper: “the island’s mine by Sycorax my mother, / which thou tak’st from me.” In fact, Caliban’s plan with Trinculo and Stephano to assassinate Prospero, gruesome as it is, is the product of natural grievances. In contrast, Antonio and Sebastian’s plan to kill the latter’s brother (Alonso, the king of Naples) is the consequence of lust for power. Unlike Caliban, they are neither displaced nor do they have any legitimate grievance; they aren’t even inebriated. By drawing a parallel between the two scenes, Shakespeare demands a closer investigation of the nature of monstrosity itself while questioning the values and benefits of Jacobean civilization. The physically deformed creature may be mentally depraved, but the well-formed and well-placed characters have an equally dwarfed conscience. For example, Antonio states: “ay, sir [Sebastian], where lies that [conscience]? … I feel not this deity in my bosom” (Tempest). As Jan Kott argues, in the Shakespearean world there is “no distinguishable difference between good kings and tyrants or kings and clowns. … Terror and struggle for power is not a privilege of princes, it is a law of the world.” The influence of the French thinker Michel de Montaigne is palpable in Shakespeare. In his essay “Of the cannibals,” he compares the brutality and fanaticism of the Christians against each other in the French civil wars to cannibalism: “I think there is more barbarism in eating men alive than to feed upon them being dead, to mangle by tortures and torments a body full of lively sense.” Montaigne also states that the cannibals may be called barbarians “in respect to the rules of reason, but not in respect to ourselves, who surpass them in every kind of barbarity.” Thus, the relative extent of “barbarity” is not merely associated with a culture or a particular point of view, but also with degrees. Shakespeare performs a similar task in pointing out the relative nature of barbarity or even monstrosity. The honest old counselor Gonzalo’s speech is almost a paraphrase of Montaigne: “if I should say I saw such islanders / … though they are of monstrous shape, yet note, / their manners are more gentle, kind, than of / our human generation you shall find” (Tempest). This relativism can also be found in Prospero’s comments about Ferdinand when he is chiding Miranda for her attraction to the former: “to th’ most of men this is a Caliban, / and they to him are angels” (Tempest). Although the character of Prospero is only play-acting in order to raise the worth of his daughter “lest too light winning / make the prize light” (Tempest), the playwright subtly questions the basis for claims to humanity and denial of monstrosity. Shakespeare’s text seems to suggest that monstrosity is something inherent in human beings; civilization can be the guard that suppresses or better still represses it, but it is impossible to completely eliminate it. It is therefore of little surprise that the psychoanalytic school of criticism has often seen Prospero and Caliban as the self and the repressed “other,” respectively. In fact, the monster bears greater similarities to what Julia Kristeva calls the “Abject”; while the Repressed, although it presents a continual possibility of return, disappears entirely from consciousness, the Abject is always at the periphery of consciousness. The threat in this sense from the monster’s body to the self is both conscious and unconscious. To bring some semblance of order and restore stability, it is necessary that the monster be exiled or destroyed. Even Derrida, despite his celebration of monstrosity (material as well as semiotic) as a deconstructive icon and its capacity to violate the “natural” order of things, recognizes that it has an awful side as well. He notes that monsters, “because of their violences, must be continually subjected to deconstruction by their own monstrosities.” Toward the end of the play, Caliban is ousted from the purview of the geographical locus because, despite having already been subdued, the monster remains a potential threat: it can never be fully integrated or assimilated. Yet, conceptually, the monster can never be exterminated: by being the perpetual other, the Abject, the monster validates the category of the self, and in its absence, the binary itself will break down. Works ConsultedCohen, Jeffrey Jerome (editor). Monster Theory: Reading Culture. Minneapolis, London: University of Minnesota Press- 1996.Frey, Charles. “The Tempest and the New World.” Shakespeare Quarterly, Vol. 30, No. 1 (Winter, 1979), pp. 29-41. Published by: Folger Shakespeare Library in association with George Washington University. Stable URL:, Michael (Editor). A Companion to English Renaissance Literature and Culture. Blackwell Publishers Limited, 2000.Ingebretsen, Edward J. “Staking the Monster: A Politics of Remonstrance”. Religion and American Culture: A Journal of Interpretation, Vol. 8, No. 1 (Winter, 1998), pp. 91-116. Published by: University of California Press. Stable URL:, S. T (edited). “The Monster” by Richard Bleiler in Icons of Horror and the Supernatural: An Encyclopaedia of our Worst Nightmares, Volumes 1 and 2.Greenwood Press, 2007.Kott, Jan. Shakespeare Our Contemporary. London: Methuen & Co. Limited, 1965.Kristeva, Julia. The Powers of Horror: An essay on Abjection translated by Leon S. Roudiez. New York: Columbia University Press, 1982.McAfee, Noelle. Routledge Critical Thinkers: Julia Kristeva. London and New York: Routledge, 2004.McCloskey, John C. “Caliban, Savage Clown” College English, Vol. 1, No. 4 (Jan., 1940), pp. 354-357. Published by: National Council of Teachers of English. 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Montreal: McGill Queen’s University Press, 1996.Vaughan, Virginia Mason. “‘Something Rich and Strange’: Caliban’s Theatrical Metamorphoses.” Shakespeare Quarterly, Vol. 36, No. 4 (Winter, 1985), pp. 390-405. Published by: Folger Shakespeare Library in association with George Washington University. Stable URL: