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Write a note on the relations between Prospero and Caliban.


Caliban is half-human an half-monster. He is the son of the witch Sycorax who had been banished from her native land on, account of her misdeeds and had settled down on this island. After the death of his mother, Caliban was the only human shape to be seen on the island till Prospero and Miranda arrived there.

In the beginning Prospero used to treat Caliban kindly. Prospero had even taught Caliban the language of human beings. But Caliban proved most ungrateful. One day he tried to violate the honour of Prospero’s daughter, Miranda. After that incident, Prospero made Caliban a prisoner in a rock and began to use him for all sorts of difficult, menial jobs. But instead of repenting of his misconduct, Caliban felt sorry in not succeeding in his evil purpose of seducing Miranda. Prospero  warned Caliban that he would make him suffer painful torments if he showed any unwillingness to carry out Prospero’s orders. Caliban promised to behave properly, because in his heart he realised that Prospero’s magic was even more powerful than that of the devil Setebos.

Caliban is perfectly incorrigible. He is incapable of any moral improvement. He does not appreciate Prospero’s kindness at all and inwardly continues to be hostile to him and his daughter. He is in the habit of receiving Prospero and Miranda with curses and with words of filthy abuse. He does carry out Prospero’s orders like carrying fuel-wood, but his hatred for Prospero continues to be fierce. In a soliloquy Caliban tells us how Prospero has been tormenting him in all possible ways by employing his Spirits against him.

Because of his intense hatred for Prospero, Caliban would very much like him to be killed. He instigates Stephano to murder Prospero and thus become the lord of the island. He complains that Prospero has usurped the island which formerly belonged to Caliban’s mother and to Caliban. He, therefore, seeks redress from Stephano. Stephano is tempted by the prospect of becoming the lord of the island. Caliban tells him that Prospero is in the habit of sleeping in the afternoons and that the aftemoon would be the best time to murder him. But, says Caliban, the magic books of Prospero must first be seized because without them Prospero would have no supernatural powers. Caliban then further tempts Stephano by telling him that Prospero has an extremely beautiful daughter. Stephano promises to kill Prospero in order to marry his daughter and become the lord of the island, with Caliban and Tn’nculo as his deputies. Ariel has, however, overheard the whole SCheme and will duly convey it to his master, Prospero. When the conspirators are on their way to execute the conspiracy, Stephano and Trinculo are grieving over the loss of their wine-bottles which they had dropped in the pond. Caliban reminds them of the project they have in hand. But just at this time Trinculo catches sight of the splendid wardrobe hanging on the line and draws the attention of Stephano to it. They are both greatly attracted by the showy garments and get busy in grabbing as many of them as they can lay their hands upon, Caliban repeatedly urges them not to waste their time but to go ahead with the plot to murder Prospero. Stephano and Trinculo pay little heed to the appeals of Caliban. At this stage, a number of Spirits appear in the shapes of dogs and hounds. As directed by Prospero, these Spirits chase away the conspirators who take to their heels in a state of confusion. Prospero then gives ‘ an order to the Spirits to torment the conspirators in every possible way.

Thus till the very end the relations between Prospero and Caliban remain unpleasant and unfriendly. All Prospero’s beneficence fails to reform Caliban. Caliban represents the evil passions which cannot be changed into goodness. It is not his love of freedom that makes Caliban hostile to Prospero, but his innate wickedness which cannot appreciate Prospero’s goodness. As for freedom, Caliban does not attach much importance to it, because he is quite servile towards Stephano and offers to live as Stephano’s slave on the island.

Dipendu Das

Dipendu Das

Author of Resonating Voices and Resounding Minds. A writer, poet, blogger and web developer. Administrator and Founder of ExamsTopper. Alumnus of Stepping Stone Model School, Alipurduar. Currently pursuing BA. LLB. (Hons.) at the prestigious NLU National University of Study and Research in Law (NUSRL), Ranchi. His work has been published in more than 21 nations around the globe.

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