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The Tempest - Caliban

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Natasha Collett

on 30 April 2013

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Transcript of The Tempest - Caliban

Critical readings of Caliban A monstrous villain or an
abused islander? -Caliban has often been viewed by critics as a symbol for colonial injustice and a representation of the victims of colonial expansion. His name is an an anagram of 'Canibal', immediately associating him with flesh-eating savages.
-Civilization corrupts rather than uplifts. Frank Kermode writes - Caliban is "compelled to speak the language of civilization, to him anotherprison, all he can do is curse". This echoes Rousseau's idea that "man is born free and is everywhere in chains". Society and the power structures within it are oppressive and restrictive.
Kermode maintains that the colonial readings of 'The Tempest' "are secondary to the beautiful object itself". The focus on oppression and exploitation undermine the poetic beauty of the play.
-Paul Brown maintains that there is a beauty and quality to the isalnd beyond the "powerful harmonics of the coloniser", which "the other may use to resist, if only in a dream the repressive reality which hails him a villain" Caliban
'The Tempest' "We'll visit Caliban, mu slave" "I'll rack thee with old cramps // fill all thy bones with aches" Prospero and Miranda describe Caliban as a monstrous villain, a slave. The degrading and derogatory language illustrates his inferiority. Aggressive language, and the threat of physical punishment and trauma, evokes a certain level of sympathy for Caliban from the audience. "You taught me language, and my profit on't // Is I know how to curse" Deliberately menacing and provocative language - illustrates his defiance to Prospero. "From bogs, fens, flats, on Prsoper fall, and make him // By inch-meal a disease". Alliteration and plosives illustrate his anger and sense of contempt towards Prospero. lexical field of illness and disease increases Caliban's vulgarity. -Caliban is not only the most interesting character in 'The Tempest', but one of the most complex and debated minor characters in all of Shakespeare. Caliban "Some generations of critics see Caliban as representing freedom, whilst others see him as merely savage" - Joanna Williams (emagazine) "Caliban's rhetoric invests the island with reality" - Vaughan -Bestial/Monstrous interpretations
-Often played with a physical deformity
-Primitive/Darwinian presentations
-The modern victim of oppression "dark flesh... wild and ragged" Dramatic interpretations The diverse range of presentations of Caliban on stage illustrates the complexities of his character. 'Be not afeared' speech (Act 3, Scene 2)
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