Tempest: The Tempest and Caliban Essays

Submitted By eekgirl
Words: 1054
Pages: 5

Analyzing Shakespeare’s The Tempest Joseph Warton’s literary criticism, “Observations on the Tempest of Shakespeare”, praises Shakespeare’s creativity and poeticism. Reading the criticism gave me a new appreciation of the beauty behind Shakespeare’s well crafted play. Warton discusses Shakespeare’s inventiveness, variety, and consistency of characters, and calls him the “only poet who possesses the power of uniting poetry with propriety of character” (Warton). Overall, Warton’s criticism speaks highly of Shakespeare, and gives a deeper insight into each element of the structure of Shakespeare’s work. Warton states that Shakespeare “artfully acquaints us” with Prospero. Shakespeare does not blatantly state that Prospero is a magician; instead, it is shown in the words Miranda uses to address her father. Miranda’s short dialogue clarifies that the tempest of the previous scene was Prospero’s doing, which sets up the entire play. The purpose of the chaos and confusion of the first scene is unclear upon first reading it. However, after Shakespeare reveals the back story, through Prospero’s narration, we understand the motives behind Prospero’s anger and frustration that create the violent storm. The storm also serves as a key factor in Prospero’s plot for revenge against Alonso, Antonio, and the rest of the men that drove him out of his dukedom. At this point, we realize why the play is entitled The Tempest. “The action is one, great, and entire, the restoration of Prospero to his dukedom” (Warton). Prospero possesses a few different sides to his character that we see throughout the progression of the play. “The resentment of Prospero, for the matchless cruelty and wicked usurpation of his brother, - his parental affection and solicitude for the welfare of his daughter- and the awful solemnity of his character, as skillful magician, - are all along preserved with equal consistency, dignity, and decorum” (Warton). Prospero begins the story as an angry magician set out to get revenge on his brother. This anger is contrasted with the great love he expresses for his daughter, Miranda. “Oh, a cherubim/Thou wast that did preserve me” (i.ii.152-153). He tells Miranda that she is the only reason that he survived; she gave him hope. We see a huge turning point for Prospero’s character in Act 5 Scene 1. Ariel is the main cause of this change as he tells Prospero about the suffering men; “Your charm so strongly works’ em/That if you now beheld them, your affections/Would become tender” (v.i.17-18). Prospero then responds with, “Dost thou think so, spirit” (v.i.19)? and Ariel says, “Mine would sir, were I human” (v.i.20). At this point, Prospero realizes that if Ariel, nonhuman, can feel compassion, that he must take the high road and choose “the rarer action” of forgiveness (v.i.27-28). Prospero then chooses to give up his magic, and forgives Antonio. Warton applauds Shakespeare for his complete originality in creating Caliban’s character. Shakespeare created Caliban as an opposing character to Ariel. Both are servants of Prospero; Ariel “light and airy” and Caliban of the earth. Caliban is evil by nature, born of the witch Sycorax, “represented as a prodigy of cruelty, malice, pride, ignorance, idleness, gluttony, and lust” (Warton). Caliban’s interactions with Trinculo and Stephano demonstrate his ignorance. He believes Stephano is the man on the moon, and treats him like a god, begging to be his servant. “I prithee, let me bring you where crabs grow. And with my long nails will dig thee pignuts, show thee a jay’s nest, and instruct thee how to snare a nimble marmoset” (ii.ii.143-146). This is ironic because Caliban repeatedly curses and complains about his enslavement to Prospero, but he enslaves himself almost immediately upon meeting Stephano. This kindness and loyalty is exactly how Caliban behaved with Prospero, upon his arrival to the island. “And then I loved thee/And showed thee all the qualities o’ th’ isle”