Shakespeare has given us a rich variety of characters. Caliban is his unique creation. He seems to hme been made of many things. Yet he seems to be nothing similar to anything in the world of expericnce. He belongs to the world of the poet’s fancy. All the characters in The Tempest except Ariel and C aliban bclong to the world of reality. Ariel is an airy spirit but Caliban is both earthly and unearthly. Shakespeare has shown his poetic imagination in the presentation of Ariel but his imagination takes a higher flight in the conception of this strange character.
In his physical appearance Caliban is extraordinary. He looks an earthly creature. He is half man and half fish. Caliban is ugly but the conception of Caliban as a unique example of ugliness is itself a creation of beauty. Caliban’s foul smelling body makes even a drunkard tremble. He can be shown as a queer specimen in a civilised market. Prospero addresses him as hag seed and Tn’nculo wonders at his shape.
Caliban adds to the curiosity of the audience and satisfies their fancy. Despite his grossness and ugliness, he appeals to our imaginative sensibility. He is a monster of evil and symbol of wickedness. But he is not wicked like real human beings. His wickedness or devilish nature belongs to the world of a poet’s fancy and imagination. His very unnaturalness is interesting. His savage earthy nature has a beauty of its own. His description of the island is poetic. He seems to love the island with a passion which makes him poetical and a creation of a poet’s imagination.
Caliban speaks in poetry although he is a savage. Prospero’s island is a really enchanted island full of strange music. He appreciates all the charms of Sycorax and all the wonder connected with Prospero’s magic. One of the most highly poetic passages in The Tempest is uttered by Caliban, under the influence of wine.
“Be not afraid ; the isle is full of noises, Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not etc.”
Caliban stands mid-way between man and spirits. He is a creation which combines realism with idealism. He ‘is unlike creatures which we meet in our daily experience. He is also unlike a totally imaginative creature like angels, ghosts and spirits. He is a piece of art though earth’s earthy, a piece of poetry though gross and beast-like.