English_110__Prosperos_Island_and_Calibans_Prison_An_Analysis_of_The_Tempest - Wahlberg 1 Erika Wahlberg Professor Mangin English 110 20 May 2020

English_110__Prosperos_Island_and_Calibans_Prison_An_Analysis_of_The_Tempest

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Wahlberg 1 Erika Wahlberg Professor Mangin English 110 20 May 2020 Prospero’s Island and Caliban’s Prison: An Analysis of The Tempest William Shakespeare’s The Tempest is believed by some historians to be the last play that Shakespere produced alone; part of this theory is one of the main themes of the play being magic and the protagonist of the play, Propsero, gives up his magical powers at the end of the play. This may parallel with Shakespeare’s act of stepping down from being a playwright. Besides the theme of the occult, there is also the greater theme of forgiveness and retribution. Prospero is a man who was once the duke of Milan but was betrayed by his brother Antonio, and was then exiled to a distant island left to raise his 3-year-old child in solitude. The play begins when a tempest, a violent storm, brings a ship boarded by the men who helped exile Prospero from Milan. At this point, him and Miranda have lived on the island for 12 years. For the cast of the play who find themselves on the island, the island acts as an escape for those who rise to power and a prison for those who become disempowered. Caliban’s treatment as an “in-human” slave makes the island, for him, a prison. From the very beginning to the end of the play, Caliban serves as a slave to Prospero. He is the son of a witch named Sycorax who once inhabited the island and enslaved the spirits on the island (spirits in the play act as tools for magic in this fictional world.) Although she dies long before Prospero and Miranda arrive to the island, this background of Caliban being son to a witch, and son of the devil according to Prospero, determines part of his fate for the remainder of the play. His identity is ambiguous, but is overall categorized as a person indigenous to the island and part-human in
Wahlberg 2 form. As Prospero and Miranda occupied the island, Caliban was educated by Prospero to understand the common language and apparently had a good relationship. This dynamic was immediately destroyed as Caliban attempted to rape the young Miranda. Prospero accuses Caliban in Act 1, and Caliban admits it showing his lack of remorse: “Wouldn’t have done! Thou didst prevent me. I had peopled else this isle with Calibans”(1.2.354-356). By this, Caliban is claiming that he would have taken Miranda to father his children. Prospero uses this attack of his daughter as a justification for Caliban’s enslavement. As a character described as monster throughout the play, it is not unsurprising that this is the same man who attempts to attack a woman and holds no guilt. He only remains spiteful against Prospero. Caliban continues to feel justified in his actions, and feels as though he deserves some sort of natural ownership over the island due to a birthright: “[t]his island’s mine, by Sycorax my mother. Which thou takest from me...which first was mine own king. And here you sty me. In this hard rock, whiles you do keep from me the rest o’ th’ island” (2.2. 335-350). Here is is revealed that he not only feels restricted and imprisoned on the island, but also the dynamic between Caliban and Prospero. From the

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