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The Tempest A New Perspective English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 5659 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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After nearly three hundred and fifty years of abuse, Caliban is beginning to be recognized as the true hero of The Tempest. In his play, Shakespeare introduced a monster, half-fish, half-human, whose coarse appetites and even coarser language brutally contrasted with the ethereal presence of Ariel, the noble features of Prospero, and Miranda’s virginal charms. The prototypes created by Shakespeare around 1611 caught the European imagination. For centuries they were taken by other writers, enlarged, developed, but never essentially changed until the 1950’s.

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This comment by Marta E. Sánchez (1976) precisely points to the course of evolution of the criticism of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. The polarity of the acceptable and the unacceptable is still there in the criticism of the play but the positions, alongside the post-structuralist and especially the post colonial bents of literary criticism, have gradually been exchanged by the characters, with the result that the character that was once taken as the assured hero slides into an obscure region of villainy while the apparently wicked one receives a heroic light. As one reads the play, the initial impression one gets of the character of Caliban is that he is depraved. This conclusion generally stems from the way other characters treat him. Throughout the play Caliban is described as a “tortoise”, “fish,” “slave,” “villain,” “monster,” “moon-calf” and suchlike all of which suggest sub-human qualities. On the contrary, Prospero, the traditionally celebrated hero of the play, has been given no such terms of disparagement in spite of his highly questionable behavior. Modern critics have often noted how Caliban’s subhuman characteristics, racially marking him as the “other”, all too conveniently correspond with the various European discourses which rationalize exploitative colonial regimes. If The Tempest is interpreted as dramatizing this colonialism or the European domination of the natives of new lands, Caliban emerges not as a monstrous villain but as a heroic rebel against Prospero’s unjust colonial oppression. There is ample textual evidence to exalt Caliban to the diminution of Prospero as a colonizing tyrant.

The name Caliban is derived from the Greek words ‘kalos’ meaning noble and beautiful, and ‘benausos’, meaning coarse and vulgar, which sum up the ways in which Caliban can be interpreted: both noble and bad. It is up to the value judgement which individual readers will bring to understand this character that any one is rejected in favour of the other. To Caliban’s bad luck, critics have tended to emphasize the implication of the anagram ‘cannibal’ for ‘Caliban’ in order to understand him. But while doing so, nobody has ever thought of making an anagram for ‘Prospero’ which is significantly ‘oppressor’. Prospero, if rightly understood, is an oppressor throughout.

Prospero’s dealings with Caliban from first to last are in an ideal line with the general colonial abuse directed against the colonized. Prior to Prospero’s unwelcome arrival, Caliban was the undeclared king on the island. The way Prospero learns about the essentials of the island from Caliban and then gradually reduces him to slavery is reminiscent of the old traditions of Spanish conquistadors who, while conquering Mexico, Peru, and Central America in the 16th century, would meet the rulers of native civilizations on friendly terms only long enough to discover where the ruler kept his riches, then later plunder their cities and palaces. The fault with Caliban is that he trusts a European so easily to give way to him. But the heroic quality in him is that he does not cringe in Prospero’s magic-aided powerful presence.

Prospero’s first mention of Caliban to Miranda combines his oppression and Caliban’s remonstrance:

We’ll visit Caliban my slave, who never

Yields us kind answer. (I.ii.310-11)

His persistence in treating Caliban as a slave is matched with Caliban’s refusal to “Yield” any “kind answer”. Though Prospero thinks that Caliban is “A freckled whelp hag-born–not honour’d with/A human shape”(I.ii.284-85), he has no qualms about receiving service from this ‘abominable’ creature. His profit-seeking colonial attitude is expressed in the lines where he explains to Miranda why he does not do away with this “villain”:

But, as ’tis,

We cannot miss him: he does make our fire,

Fetch in our wood and serves in offices

That profit us. (I.ii.312-15)

The spirit of “profit” links Prospero with the whole colonizing enterprise of the Whites in Africa in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Prospero’s unreasonable abuse of Caliban is more than manifest in the terms he uses to address him: “Thou earth, thou! Speak” (I.ii.317), “Come, thou tortoise!”(320), “Thou poisonous slave, got by the devil himself /Upon thy wicked dam, come forth!”(322-23), “Thou most lying slave” (347),”Hag-seed” (368) and so on. Caliban resents being called a slave, and to demoralize him further, Prospero persists in calling him so. Again such torture as described in these lines of Prospero —

………….. thou shalt have cramps,

Side-stitches that shall pen thy breath up; urchins

Shall, for that vast of night that they may work,

All exercise on thee; thou shalt be pinch’d

As thick as honeycomb, each pinch more stinging

Than bees that made ’em. (I.ii.327-32)

— is inflicted on Caliban for his insolence or unwillingness to work. This is downright oppression.

Though never a fit match for Prospero’s might, Caliban cannot be mentally broken. At best, he relents a little out of his discretion because he knows Prospero’s magic is so powerful that it would make a slave of his mother’s god, Setebos. It is for this indomitably heroic spirit in Caliban that he can say “I must eat my dinner” (I.ii.332) before doing any further work, or can boldly declare “This island’s mine, by Sycorax my mother, / Which thou takest from me” (333-34). It is as a result of his resolute fortitude and a consciousness of Prospero’s magic-aided undefeatability that Caliban tries to take a different route of victory over Prospero through his caustic but rhetoric curses:

As wicked dew as e’er my mother brush’d

With raven’s feather from unwholesome fen

Drop on you both! a south-west blow on ye

And blister you all o’er! (I.ii.323-26)


All the charms

Of Sycorax, toads, beetles, bats, light on you!(341-42)


You taught me language; and my profit on’t

Is, I know how to curse. The red plague rid you

For learning me your language! (365-67;this is aimed at both him and Miranda)


All the infections that the sun sucks up

From bogs, fens, flats, on Prosper fall and make him

By inch-meal a disease!(II.ii. 1-3).

If Caliban is seen as a dominated subject, it is hard to suggest that Prospero’s domination of Caliban has been complete. It has always run awry. Whatever service Caliban renders to him is done grudgingly. And this unwillingness springs not from Caliban’s laziness or resistant brutishness but from his constant awareness that he is made to serve someone who has no right for this service. Instead, Prospero is supposed to serve him as he is living in his (Caliban’s) island. During Prospero’s beginning days on the island, Caliban was all help for him. He showed him the source of fresh water and all other things necessary for life. Caliban did all this out of his simplicity and an intrinsic generousness which he has inherited from the bounteous nature in a naked contact with which he lives. But a single mysterious fault (that of the attempt of rape) on his part is enough to replace in Prospero’s mind the memories of his benevolent service with an obstinately revengeful memory of a disservice. This is the memory which spurs Prospero to reduce Caliban to an undeserved slavery in spite of the unconditional services he receives from him. This, by no means, is even slightly redolent of the heroic magnanimity and generousness that abound in Caliban who rightly and agonizingly flashes back to his friendly service to Prospero:

………………I loved thee

And show’d thee all the qualities o’ the isle,

The fresh springs, brine-pits, barren place and fertile:

Cursed be I that did so! (I.ii.338-41)

The critics who dismiss Caliban as someone who is irretrievably wicked bolster their argument with the same charge that Prospero makes against him: his attempt “to violate/ The honour”(I.ii.349-50) of Miranda. To make things worse, Caliban is never convinced that it was a crime on his part. Instead, he only laments not having succeeded in his endeavor:

O ho, O ho! Would’t had been done!

         Thou didst prevent me: I had peopled else

         This isle with Calibans. (I.ii.352-354)

Tellingly, Caliban does not lament any thwarted sexual desire, but rather his failure to “people” the island with his children. This, quite contrary to the traditional view, clearly demonstrates that Caliban is not a sexual debauchee. In his apparently (because no standard of morality is fixed or absolute or effective in such a set-up) immoral attempt of rape, he has, in reality, tried to proliferate his replicas (or “Calibans”) through his children so that he could outnumber and thereby overpower Prospero to get his own island back in the end. Though his procedure is abhorrent from a civilized or religious perspective, it is undoubtedly heroic from the perspective of a colonized black native to whom such ideas as chastity or sanctity count little. This also shows Caliban’s love for action to reclaim his island in a direct contrast to Prospero who neglectfully did nothing when he felt his power threatened in Milan by his brother and gets his dukedom back at the end of the play not by dint of any intrinsic human and heroic quality in him but through the help of the supernatural agency.

In the charge of the attempted rape, Prospero represents colonial attitude as well. The words of the charge are “thou didst seek to violate/ The honor.” How did Caliban “seek”? The assumption is that it was an “attempted rape,” but it also could have been verbal. Caliban could have requested that he be allowed to “date” Miranda, and Prospero been so repulsed by the idea (after all he in reality sees Caliban as inhuman) that he reacted against Caliban as strongly as if it had been a rape. In some colonized places, even eye contact, could be represented as “rape” of the white woman. James Baldwin’s Blues for Mister Charlie and   E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India portray such things all the better.

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What exactly happened between Miranda and Caliban remains somewhat mysterious. While the play gives no indication that Miranda consented to be with Caliban while he attempted to rape her, it also provides no definitive evidence that she did not. If Miranda actually consented, her consent may explain why Caliban is so “unforgiving” in his response, and many critics have emphasized as well how “out of character” are the lines Miranda utters after him. She may be trying to conceal her complicity in that action. After all, Caliban has been one of only two men Miranda has seen while on the island and it is natural that she might have given way to him in a natural urge to find someone of the opposite sex to befriend other than the father. Indeed, this may explain why she does not “love to look” at Caliban when he is on stage (I.ii. 312). She may feel guilty, or be trying to hide her complicity in the act that brought Caliban abject slavery. That she now hates Caliban may be a result of her father’s hate for him. Again, when she sees a third man, Ferdinand, it is not a long time before she professes her love to him. Critics have suggested that Prospero’s magic to make the two fall in love was directed not to Miranda but to Ferdinand. It is her essential naivety and inexperience that make her so much credulous of any man to the point that the man has no difficulty to intend to possess her. Probably Caliban understands this very well and this also accounts for the reason why he is not worried at all about Miranda’s consent while making his suggestion to Stephano that Miranda will be his (Stephano’s) wife when they kill Prospero. Thus looked at, Caliban appears in a more positive light showing him to be more sinned against than sinning.

Though Caliban is the child of the Algerian witch Sycorax, much of his moral education, or at least his socialization, has been left to Prospero. Prospero tells him: “I have used thee,/ Filth as thou art, with humane care, and lodged thee/ In mine own cell” (1.2 347-49).Prospero’s claim is that Caliban was at least a potential equal, someone who deserved “humane” care, until Caliban left the realm of civility through his attempt of rape. This is much significant in that it reveals how the colonizers always claim that they bear the torch of civilization to enlighten the lands where the darkness of primitive ignorance is all to be found. But this claim does not stand the test of success for the exploitive nature of colonization itself. Generally speaking, such efforts, whatever amount of seeming philanthropy is attached to them, simply do not work. The efforts of forceful imposition of the colonizers’ cultures upon those of the colonized often miscarry and sometimes result in the perversion of the natives. This tends to make bad what is already good, at least in its native environment and gives the colonizers a false rationale for further exerting the exploitive control over the natives under the camouflage of education. What the colonizers think to be of immense help to the natives may not be ultimately any help at all for them. All this is exemplified in Caliban. Whatever Prospero does to civilize Caliban, has a diametrically opposite result. Caliban attempts to deflower Miranda in direct violation of Prospero’s moral education. Although Prospero and Miranda have tried to give Caliban a sense of language, or “endowed thy purposes/ With words that made them know” (1.2 360-1), Caliban has responded with resistance: “You taught me language, and my profit on’t/ Is I know how to curse”. One can legitimately wonder whether Prospero taught language to Caliban more for his help than for Caliban’s. Both Prospero and Miranda are parasitically dependent on Caliban whom they taught language so that he could be used more productively for their work. Furthermore, later this language serves as one of the vehicles for them to fully give vent to their unjustified hatred for him. Caliban, who has thus been made to suffer a loss of an almost languageless simplicity only to shoulder a burden of the language of his tormentor, heroically and aptly retaliates back through language converted into curses and protestation. The way Prospero uses words to relate histories (of himself, Caliban and Ariel) makes them a source of power for him; so Prospero’s control over Caliban rests largely on his ability to master him through words, and the closer Caliban comes to outdoing Prospero in their cursing-match, the closer Caliban comes to achieving his freedom.

Prospero’s self-righteousness as for the power wielded from his magic and exerted over Caliban and others is tyrannical and typical of colonizers. In a conversation with Miranda while flashing back to his plight in Milan, he calls his brother “perfidious,” “false,” and casts him as a villain. He states his conviction that Antonio’s power, gained at Prospero’s cost in an underhanded way, can claim no justification. But his own power, he implies, over the island, nature, Caliban and others is more legitimate, valid and just because he acquired it through his own knowledge and effort; though it has involved oppression it is no theft like Antonio’s .It is this value judgment which allows Prospero to cast himself as the victim, and Antonio as the villain. This value judgement endorsing his self-justification is highly selfish and inward-looking. Prospero has it preserved only for himself and not for Caliban whom he has ousted in the island and who does rightfully challenge Prospero’s usurpation:

This island’s mine, by Sycorax my mother,

Which thou takest from me. (I.ii.333-34)

Again if Prospero has a mirror in any of the characters, it is Sycorax, whom he repeatedly condemns as a “blue-ey’d hag” or a “foul witch”. By condemning her Prospero unwittingly condemns himself. Despite Prospero’s dislike for Sycorax (which is curious, considering his only knowledge of her is from Ariel), their histories are remarkably similar: both experienced banishment from their native countries, drifted to the island for a new life, and gained control over the island and the spirits (who are the colonized for Sycorax) there. They, in the same way, reflect each other in their failings: both share the same anger, demand servitude from those who are unwilling, and keep others in control through constant threats. These are the very characteristics of colonizers. Though Prospero claims that his magic is white and Sycorax’s black, the way he uses it for reducing others to slavery aligns him with her through their mutual claim of Ariel. As for Prospero’s assertion of authority over Ariel, he claims that his pains to free him indenture Ariel to him. It reflects how colonizers insist on by far heavier returns from those under their control repeatedly referring to whatever amount of service they accidentally do to the natives.

All through the play, Prospero leaves no doubt that he is much efficient as a highly manipulative and authoritative colonizer. Lines 247-300 of Act I, Scene ii of the play where Prospero talks to Ariel about Ariel’s past and his demand of freedom illustrate this best. As Ariel and Caliban share the same status of slavery, Ariel, in a sense represents one of the colonized. When Prospero speaks to Ariel, a magical creature over whom his mastery is less certain than over Caliban, he goes to the length of combining physical and intellectual forms of manipulation to ensure his continued hold over him. He chooses to treat Ariel as a mixture of a pet, whom he can praise and blame as he likes, and a pupil, demanding that the spirit recite answers to questions about the past that Prospero has taught him. Though Ariel must know the story well, Prospero says that he must “once in a month” recount Ariel’s history with Sycorax, simply to ensure that his servant’s fickle nature does not cause him to become disloyal. Every time he retells Ariel’s history, we feel, he must increase both the persuasiveness of his own story and his control over Ariel. This is why he now chooses to claim that Ariel is behaving badly-so that he can justify a retelling of the history, even though Ariel is perfectly respectful. He forces Ariel to recall the misery he suffered while trapped in the pine tree (“thy groans / Did make wolves howl,” I.ii.289-290). He then positions himself as the good savior who overthrew Sycorax’s evil. However, he immediately follows this with a forceful display of his own magical power, threatening to trap Ariel in an oak just as the “evil” Sycorax had trapped him in a pine. In this way, Prospero exercises control both intellectually and physically. By trying to control the way Ariel and Caliban (as a little later he adopts the same strategy with Caliban whom he reminds of his past in association with Prospero’s supposed services and Caliban’s apparent betrayal) think about their lives, Prospero makes it difficult for them to imagine that challenging his authority would be a good thing to do. And by threatening Ariel (and, shortly thereafter, Caliban who has already had the experiences of torture) with magical torture, he sets very high stakes for any such rebellion. For his part, Ariel promises to “do my spiriting gently” from now on.

Caliban, when contrasted with Ariel, has his indomitable protestation against Prospero more strikingly palpable. While he represents a slave who fights for his freedom, Ariel represents the slave who accepts tyranny and becomes his master’s errand boy and busybody. Caliban is a revolutionary while Ariel is the intellectual who sells his rights for some crumbs from his master’s table. He does not have the courage to give vent to his pent-up angry frustration caused by his slavery in the heroic way as Caliban does. While “cannibal” is the anagram of “Caliban”, with an omitted ‘e’, “liar” is the anagram for “Ariel”. Without the earthly courage of Caliban the abstract intellectualism of Ariel is insubstantial, false and a great lie to one’s own self and others as Ariel has been in his meek acceptance of tyranny against his own being.

That Caliban is a naive native, not marked by the civilized cunningness enough to enable him to read into the true nature (which is completely selfish and stupid) of Stephano and Trinculo, is reinforced by the fact that he takes them as his new gods in a similar way that he took Prospero initially. But this time it has been also motivated by his desire to get free from Prospero’s tyranny. This is much clear when he, after hatching the conspiracy with these two people to kill Prospero, rejoices at the future prospect thus:

‘Ban, ‘Ban, Cacaliban


Freedom, hey-day! hey-day, freedom! freedom,

hey-day, freedom!(II.ii.184-187).

In his newly-found gods, he, though under an illusion, sees the only avenue to give a solid reality to his protests simmering within against Prospero’s usurpation. He has been so much overwhelmed by the unexpected opportunity to do away with Prospero that he refuses to see that in this process he exchanges one kind of slavery for another. But who can say that Caliban is not taking recourse to being tactful here? That Caliban had long been contemplating the murder of Prospero is crystal clear in how he promptly programmes the entire killing enterprise with these two people. For him alone to liquidate Prospero was almost impossible because the latter has the uncanny power of magic. But as far as these two new fellows are concerned, he can clear them up any time after having them kill Prospero at their own risk. That Caliban will really be licking the feet of these people only because they give him wine in return for his slavery seems implausible considering his longstanding case against Prospero. The Caliban who is so much articulate against slavery with pungent curses can never be dumb only because the masters are changed.

Without delving deep into the play to decide upon the concerns of an oppressive colonizer and mistreated revolting subjects, one can attempt a close examination of the various sounds dispersed throughout the work–including speech, silence, and music-which, as it will be shown, tend to lend support to the view that Prospero is an oppressive colonizer, for he often threatens his enemies and servants with unpleasant sounds and demands silence from others, including his daughter and that Caliban is someone nobler than he is thought of.

The play begins with the crew of a ship being subject to terrifying sounds that Prospero has ordered Ariel to produce. The sounds are all loud: “whistle,” “storm,” “cry,” “thunderclaps,” “fire and cracks,” and “roaring” (I.i.7, 14; I.i..203-5; II.i.2). The terror that these sounds and the accompanying storm inflict upon the mariners is evidenced by their cries: “All lost! To prayers! To prayers! All lost!” (I.i.52).The infliction of these sounds is also made to appear unjust when Miranda pleads with her father: “If . . . you have / Put these wild waters in this roar, allay them. / . . . O, the cry did knock / Against my very heart. Poor souls, they perished!” (II.i.1-9).

Indeed, Prospero often refers to unpleasant sounds as a means of threatening others. “I will plague them all, / Even to roaring,” (IV.i.188-214) he says of Caliban, Trinculo, and Stephano. When Prospero believes Ariel is not providing an eager and willful service, he threatens the spirit with imprisonment in a tree, reminding Ariel that when he was previously trapped, his “groans / Did make wolves howl” (I.ii.289-90). Prospero also tells him, “Thou hast howled away twelve winters” (I.ii.298). Similarly, Prospero threatens Caliban, carrying out his threats and subjecting the ‘monster’ to tortures accompanied by unpleasant sounds. Caliban describes Prospero’s punishing spirits thus:

For every trifle are they set upon me,

Sometimes like apes, that mow and chatter at me

. . . Sometimes am I

All wound with adders, who with cloven tongues

Do hiss me into madness. (II.ii.4-14; italicized emphasis added)

Indeed, it seems that Prospero is fascinated with sounds that represent his power, his ability to control others. He reflects on his work, and in this short speech, he repeatedly employs sounds that emphasize its serious and powerful nature:

Ye elves of the hills . . .

. . . that rejoice

to hear the solemn curfew; by whose aid,

. . . I have . . .

Set roaring war; to the dread rattling thunder

Have I given fire, and rifted Jove’s stout oak

With his own bolt; the strong-based promontory

Have I made shake . . . (V.i.33-47; emphasis added).

Interestingly, this sound-filled speech of Prospero’s contrasts sharply with Caliban’s own most sound-filled speech. Caliban refers to a number of sounds in his famous speech about the island but quiet in a different way:

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 sometimes voices

That, if I then had waked after long sleep,

Will make me sleep again . . . (III.ii.137-42; emphasis added).

Caliban’s sensitivity to these sounds, his ability to appreciate their beauty, and the fact that they affect him very deeply make completely invalid Prospero’s authoritative claim that “stripes may move” him, but “not kindness”(I.ii. 348). All this places Caliban higher at a comparative estimate of him and Prospero. The above extract and the lines that follow it in the play in which Caliban describes how he in his dreams can see the clouds over the island seem to open up softly as if to drop all the riches it hides upon him show how much he is in a perfect harmony with the nature. Only the entrance of the boisterous colonizers like Prospero, Stephano and Trinculo makes an anomaly out of the grand tranquility essentially characterizing Caliban and his natural surroundings. It is easily noticeable throughout the play that Caliban’s use of language is most poetic. Shakespeare gives poetry only to those mouths that he decidedly gives some sort of grandeur. For example, uncouth Stephano and Trinculo have none of this language. But Caliban’s speeches abound with it which really gives him the splendor of a hero.

In addition to using unpleasant noises to threaten others, Prospero also asserts his authority by demanding silence. When Ariel requests his liberty, Prospero demands silent obedience instead. “If thou murmurst,” he tells Ariel, “I will rend an oak / And peg thee in his knotty entrails” (I.ii.296-97). Prospero’s angry insistence on Ariel’s silence, accompanied with numerous reminders of the groans and howlings Ariel once endured and might endure again, suggests a tyrannical personality.

Prospero demands this constant silent submission even of his own daughter. “Ope thine ear,” (I.ii.37) he tells Miranda. “Dost thou hear?” he asks (I.ii.106). Miranda replies, “Your tale, sir, would cure deafness,” which not only suggests the amazing nature of the tale but also hints at the tyrannical manner in which Prospero demands an attentive audience for it (I.ii.106). He also tells Miranda to “cease more questions.” Later he orders her, “Speak not you for him [Ferdinand]” and again “Speak not for him” (I.ii.185, 506). Even more forcefully, he commands her, “Silence! One word more / Shall make me chide thee . . . Hush!” (I.ii.479-81). At the masque for Ferdinand and Miranda’s wedding, when his work is not being afforded the respect he apparently believes it deserves, he orders them both, “No tongue! All eyes! Be silent!” and “Sweet now, silence! / . . . Hush and be mute” (IV.i.125-27, 59). His insistence on their silence seems to be an assertion of his own importance and a demand that they be subject to him and recognize his work as crucial (much as a colonizer might wish to receive gratitude for the good he has done to his subjects).

Prospero’s authoritative insistence on silence contrasts sharply with Caliban’s humble request for it. Caliban asks Stephano and Trinculo, “Pray you, tread softly” and “Good my lord, give me thy favor still . . . speak softly. / All’s hushed at midnight yet” (IV.1.194, 204-7). “Prithee, my king,” he pleads, “be quiet . . . No noise, and enter” (IV.i.215-16). Caliban does not even ask for complete silence, only that all be done “softly,” and he prefaces his requests with “pray” and “prithee.” He is not demanding and, unlike Prospero, makes no threats. If graciousness is an attribute of a true hero, Prospero seems to fall short of it quite contrary to Caliban.

Prospero’s assertions are more like Stephano’s, who says, “Be you quiet, monster” (IV.i.236). Prospero also resembles the morally dubious Stephano (who also seeks to be a colonizer) in the way he orders others to speak. Stephano orders Caliban, “Mooncalf, speak”” (III.i.21). Likewise, Prospero orders Caliban, “Thou earth, thou! Speak” (I.ii.317). Both preface their commands with a derogatory epithet. The resemblance between Prospero and Stephano in using their language implies that all colonizers are essentially the same. Thus an analysis of sounds in The Tempest does tend to undergird the view of Prospero as a tyrannical colonizer and Caliban as a genial and noble personality.

It was the task of a French psychoanalyst, O. Mannoni (1950), to save Caliban for the first time from his detractors and present him not as an object of scorn but as a pitiful victim of colonization. Mannoni proceeds to show that the colonizer (Prospero) in the play is in fact the victim of an inferiority complex, that makes it indispensable for him to be forced to leave his home country (where he was unable to cope with the challenges of a developed society) in order to become a slave-master in an underdeveloped society where he is able to vent his frustrations on the colonized. The colonized (Caliban) in turn suffers from a paternalistic complex. Primitive societies had taught their people to obey and revere their ancients, that is, authority. Thus, they were more than ready to accept slavery and colonization. Mannoni bases his theories on his own study of the Malgaches, the natives of Madagascar. He, however, was bitterly attacked by another psychoanalyst, the black writer Frantz Fanon (1952), not for his conceptualization of Prospero but for his interpretation of the inherited submissiveness of the colonized people exemplified in Caliban. He protests that the colonized are not slavish in nature. They are presented as such in the discourse safeguarding colonialism.

Shakespeare lived in a hierarchical world in which it was assumed that some creatures are by nature better than others. The renaissance idea of the great ‘Chain of Being’ was prevalent. It contributed further to the colonial zeal of the Europeans to look down upon the colonized natives who were far away from the civilized enlightenment. They thought it to be their sacred duty to bring the so called blessings of their culture to these natives. But when in the field, all they proved was merciless exploitation, oppression, dehumanization and suchlike of the natives. The Tempest , rightly reflecting the zeitgeist of the era of its production, apparently seems to ask the reader to see Caliban as occu


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