Compare prospero and caliban shakespeares the tempest

“Compare prospero and caliban (shakespeare’s the tempest)”

In Shakespeare’s play ‘The Tempest’, Prospero is the main character. He is the usurped king of Milan. He is living in the magical island for twelve years with his daughter Miranda. Caliban is the native of the Island. One of the themes of ‘Tempest’ is Nature Versus Nurture. Prospero is the product of nurture and Caliban is the product of nature. Prospero is the king of Milan, a civilized man. Caliban is a savage. He is the son of witch Sycorax, who ruled the island before Prospero arrived.         Prospero along with his daughter Miranda was driven from his kingdom by his brother Antonio to sea, in to a small boat. They survived and eventually found themselves in the magical island. Prospero by means of his magical knowledge is able to create magical spells with the help of spirits inhibiting the island. He uses his magic and commands spirits like Ariel only to avenge the wrong done on him. As we find in the play, Prospero creates a storm through his magic. A boat is found trapped in the storm, among the passenger are his brother Antonio, King of Naples Alonso and his son Ferdinand, the king’s brother Sebastian and Golzalo, his advisor. But he does not harm any of them. They discover themselves safe in the enchanting island.

Caliban is the offspring of witch Sycorax. On his arrival on the island, Prospero attempts to teach him human language and had no intention of enslaving him. He cannot be improved as tries to rape Miranda. This statement is true as is evident from his speech to Prospero: “O ho,O ho! would’t had been done!/Thou didst prevent me; I had peopled else/ This isle with Calibans”, (Act1, SceneII). Caliban uses the language only to utter powerless curses to Prospero. Prospero by dint of his mystic powers makes him his slave and binds him to a hard rock. Caliban dislikes Prospero as Prospero has usurped his position as the king of the island: “This island’s mine, by Sycorax my mother,/Which thou takest from me. When thou camest first”, (Act1, SceneII).As the son of Sycorax who was the ruler of the island, he is rightfully the king of the isle.

In the play Caliban is described as the deformed spirit. He is the savage slave of Prospero.  Prospero is a refined man, the king of Milan. He is a man is superior to nature. He is not only a man but also the sovereign who posses a higher status in society. His magic is more powerful than that of Sycorax because of its different nature. Sycorax is a goetist so her magic is as potent as that of a demon. Prospero is a theurgist. He does not act for his own benefit but in order to produce what is good. He uses his supernatural powers to test Ferdinand’s love for Miranda. He saves the life of Gonzalo and Alonso and he makes his brother face his crime. When he came to the island, he realized Ariel from the magic of Sycorax. In the end he forgives all including Caliban. He frees Ariel from the position of a slave. Caliban is described as a villain by Miranda. Trinculo, a jester and Stephano, a butler think him as some kind of fish with four legs. Caliban accepts that he tried to ‘violate the honor’ of Miranda but feels no regret which shows his lack of conscience or soul. He curses Prospero through out the play and invites cramps as punishment. He gets drunk along with Trinculo and Stephano. In his drunkenness, he takes drunken Stephano as his master. He along with Stephano and Trinculo plots the murder of Prospero. But in the last act of the play Caliban accepts the goodness of Prospero: “How fine my master is! I am afraid/ He will chastise me”, (Act 5, Scene I). He realizes that he has been a fool in worshipping Stephano, the drunken fool.

In the play, Prospero is the product of civilization and Caliban is the product of wild and untamed nature. He is a savage and remains a savage till the end. Whereas Prospero is the monarch, who uses his supernatural power to get back the kingdom of Milan. When he realizes that he no longer requires his power, he parts from his precious book. Prospero and Caliban can be compared in many ways. Both are displaced kings in their own way and both are trapped on an island. Both try to regain their freedom and their position. In the end Prospero goes back to Milan and leave Caliban along on the island.


A Teacher Resource Guide by Laurie Sales: The Tempest


Everything2 on: The Tempest

17March2007.18March2007<>AM on: The Tempest- study guide


Tempest- by William Shakespeare



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