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Caliban in Shakespeare’s The Tempest

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Sub Topics: Black Magic, Brutal Savage and Reformation of a character

Key Words: Caliban, The Tempest , complex character, Shakespeare, fantasy beings, symbol of gross earthly things and passion, Ariel, Wilson Knight

Caliban: "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."

Act 3, Scene 2, The Tempest

Caliban in The Tempest is a complex character. The idea perhaps first struck Shakespeare as he heard the queer tales of ship-wreck and sailors stranded in enchanted islands and confronted with fantasy beings, neither fish nor man. The fantastic yet wonderful conception of Caliban owes much to these current stories –Caliban in face is conceived as the symbol of gross earthly things and passion, the half-brute half-man. He is also contrasted with the ethereal spirit of air, Ariel. Wilson Knight considers Caliban an ugly creature growing out of the imagery of stagnant pools and earthly wood-land.
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Teaching Duration
55 minutes
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