Caliban Character Analysis: The Tempest Essay Example

Caliban, a fictional character of a Shakespearean play, is complex yet mysterious. In The Tempest, he is mistreated and silenced by Prospero, the main character of the play. Other works of literature such as poems, however, give Caliban a chance to speak his mind freely and express his true feelings. William Shakespeare's The Tempest is a play where a former ruler by the name of Prospero is exiled to a remote island and seeks revenge to those who have wronged him, but learns to forgive them all in the end. On the other hand, the poem “En el Jardín de los Espejos Quebrados, Caliban Catches a Glimpse of His Reflection” by Virgil Suarez is about Caliban expressing his own thoughts while having some alone time. The Tempest portrays Caliban as an angry and vengeful character while the poem “En el Jardín” shows him as a more hopeful and likeable character but also connecting some similarities in his character through both works of literature.

In The Tempest, Caliban shows anger and resentment towards Prospero. Caliban curses to Prospero, saying “Drop on you both! A southwest blow on ye and blister you all o’er!” (Shakespeare Ii 321-324). This curse that Caliban directed at Prospero already shows how much Caliban hates Prospero. This first impression of him makes readers automatically believe that Caliban is a very angry and vengeful character. Further into the story, Caliban also says, “Beat him enough. After a little time I’ll beat him too / seized his books / Batter his skull,” (Shakespeare IIIii 77- 83). This further reveals Caliban’s resentment for Prospero, telling sailors he just met to help kill him. He even proceeds to tell these sailors exactly how to kill Prospero as well! Throughout The Tempest, it is repeatedly shown that Caliban is character full of vengeance and is an antagonistic character.

On the other hand, in the poem “En el Jardín,” Caliban is shown as a hopeful person. He says to himself, “How could he be the man in love with such a woman? ‘Por qué no?’” (Suarez 20-21). This shows that Caliban, despite knowing about his own malformed appearance, still has hope that he could be with Miranda. This also reveals more about Caliban’s inner thoughts since he is speaking to and by himself. He also tells himself, “...he isn’t the only one damaged by history, by the way storms surge and ravage, uprooted royal palms everywhere, roof shingles like buried hands,” (Suarez 22-24). By telling himself this, he is comforting himself and saying that he isn’t the only one that had to suffer. This reveals him to be hopeful and have a positive connotation about his character. Both these instances in the poem show that Caliban is more than just a ruthless monster, but a complex character with deeper feelings with hope inside.

However, Caliban still shows some similarities in both works of literature. In the poem, it says, “He thinks of the old man’s daughter, her feather-soft hands, the way she’ll smile up at her dresser mirror, as if she knows this secret of slatted images on a pond’s surface,”(Suarez 6-9). In this section of the poem, Caliban describes Miranda as a sweet and angelic woman but does so in a somewhat sorrowful yet dreamy tone. Caliban’s thoughts show that he is in love with Miranda in a positive way, unlike The Tempest does in the first act. Prospero tells Caliban, “...not kindness!...In mine own cell till thou didst seek to violate the honor of my child,” (Shakespeare Ii 345-348). In Prospero’s exclamation, it shows that Caliban tried to violate Miranda and “take her honor”. This has a negative connotation to it and reveals that Caliban is more obsessed about Miranda, not in love like the poem is portraying. In both works, Caliban takes a liking to Miranda but one has a positive connotation while the other has a negative one.

All these examples conclude that Caliban is shown as an angry character in The Tempest yet portrayed as calm and hopeful in “En el Jardín”. New works on old characters can always change many perspectives, whether it’s about the story or just the personality itself. One should always keep an open mind on accepting these different point of views, and these two works alone can show that one should never jump to conclusions.



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