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Caliban: Man or Monster?

One of the greatest dilemmas in creating the role of Caliban in The Tempest is deciding on a balance between the character's manhood and bestiality. This must be carefully considered as Caliban, though not the pivotal character of the play, is certainly one of the most noticeable and individual. In addition, we are meant to find a certain amount of sympathy with the exiled Prospero, and the way we view Caliban's character affects how we let ourselves view his master.

Prospero first speaks of Caliban as "not honored with a human shape.  (i.ii.285-6) We learn that he is a beast of burden for Prospero and Miranda, performing menial chores and labor. He is referred to by many animal titles “ "beast , "freckled whelp , "puppy-headed monster  “ in order to assure us that none of the other characters find him human. He is mistaken for a beast by Trinculo, and constantly called a monster by him and Stephano. And although the epithets abound, we never receive a clear picture of Caliban's true appearance. If one portrays Caliban as a beast, monstrous in appearance like an ape or bear, one can justify the comments made by those newcomers to the island who don't know of Caliban's human parentage. Combined with his coarse, crass behavior, it doesn't reflect particularly poorly on Prospero when he treats Caliban as something dirty and disgusting.

Conversely, we see aspects of Caliban's character that speak of a very strong human nature. He is, perhaps, one of the most eloquent characters in the play. He has a strong appreciation for the beauty of the island, and we can imagine that part of his resentment towards Prospero stems from not being free in his natural setting. He cuts wood and cooks meals for Prospero and Miranda, which shows he can not only learn, but perform tasks skillfully and efficiently. Miranda even taught

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