The Tempest: Act V, Scene i & Epilogue - Part 3

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  • Q1

    Who is Caliban? What is your impression on him?


    Caliban is the son of Sycorax, a witch who was banished from Algiers and left in that island. He is an ugly, deformed creature - half human and half fish. Shakespeare projects him in the play as an agent or incarnation of evil. His mother Sycorax was strong enough to control the moon and the tides. Her use of magic for evil purposes is in sharp contrast to Prospero's use of magic for good.

    Prospero finds him in the island and treats him with kindness and care. He takes care to teach him the elements of language and civilization. He also teaches him to speak like human beings. But civility and knowledge is not according to his nature. He uses the language he learned to curse his benefactor because he feels that he has been wronged by Prospero. He tries to outrage the modesty of Prospero’s innocent daughter and Prospero begins to treat him harshly as a slave. He tames and controls him using his spirits.

    Being the son of Sycorax who wielded her magical powers in the island he feels that his is the rightful owner of the island. He thinks that Prospero has usurped his island by his magical powers. So he wants to take revenge upon Prospero and hatches a conspiracy with Stephano and Trinculo to murder Prospero. He tells Stephano that by murdering Prospero he can become the king of the island and he will serve him. He also tempts Stephano saying that he can take Prospero’s beautiful daughter as his wife. He tells him to knock out Prospero’s skull while he takes nap in the afternoon but cautions him to seize his magic books beforehand.

    Prospero takes revenge on Caliban by haunting him with his spirits. He inflicts him with pain and stiffness in his joints. At the end of the play Caliban realizes his mistakes. He acknowledges his faults and expresses regret. He introspects and admits his foolishness in believing in some drunken fools. He is embarrassed that he took a drunkard, a stupid fool for a god and worshipped him. He promises that he will do things wisely in order to get Prospero's favour. He too is forgiven and Prospero recognizes him to be his own.

    Caliban is the spirit of the earth and his basic nature is evil in contrast to Ariel who is the spirit of air. He seems to have inherited his evil nature from his mother. He even refers to an evil god named Setebos whom his mother worshipped. He is a savage beast doing menial jobs for his master Prospero. He hates and curses Prospero but obeys him as he is afraid of his magical powers. Moreover Prospero afflicts him with pain whenever he disobeys him. His shocking action of attempting to outrage the modesty of Miranda fills us with anger and contempt. Thus the audience is made to approve of Prospero’s harsh treatment of Caliban.

    Caliban’s simplicity is revealed when he is taken by the boasting of Stephano. But when he realizes that both Stephano and Trinculo are indifferent to his plan to murder Prospero his admiration changes into contempt. He realizes his mistakes and admits that it is better to serve Prospero rather than serving Stephano.

    In spite of his evil nature Caliban exhibits some positive traits. He delivers some of the most beautiful speeches in the play. His speech describing the beauty and wonders of the island is a good example for his love for beauty and music of nature.

    “Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises,

    Sounds, and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not.

    Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments

    Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices

    That, if I then had waked after long sleep,

    Will make me sleep again.”

    According to some critics Caliban's dark appearance, his forced bondage and his native status on the island makes his a symbol of the European colonial occupation over native cultures in several parts of the world.

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  • Q2

    Read the passage given below and answer the questions that follow.


    You’d be king o’ the isle, sirrah?


    I should have been a sore one then.


    This is a strange thing as e’er I looked on.

    [Pointing to Caliban


    He is as disproportioned in his manners

    As in his shape.—Go, sirrah, to my cell;

    Take with you your companions; as you look

    To have my pardon, trim it handsomely.


    Ay, that I will; and I’ll be wise hereafter

    And seek for grace. What a thrice-double ass

    Was I to take this drunkard for a god

    And worship this dull fool!

    (Act V, Scene I)

    (i) What does Prospero mean when he says, "You’d be king o’ the isle, sirrah?"

    (ii) Give the meaning of:

    “I should have been a sore one then.”

    (iii) What does Prospero say about Caliban?

    (iv) Comment on Caliban’s final realisation.

    (v) Give the meanings of the following words as they are used in the context of the passage:

    a) sirrah b) sore c) grace


    (i) Prospero ridicules Stephano asking him if he wanted to become the king of the island. He conspired with Caliban to murder Prospero and become the king of the island. Their plan was thwarted by Ariel and they were punished by Prospero with soreness and stiffness in their limbs. Now Prospero wants to make him ashamed of his plans.

    (ii) Stephano's reply can be taken in double sense. It means that even if he becomes the king he will be a king of pain due to the soreness that Prospero inflicted in his limbs for his plan to murder him. It can also mean that he will become a ruthless or tyrannical king.

    (iii) Prospero says that Caliban is ugly not only in his body but also in his deeds. By 'deeds' he is referring to Caliban's attempt to outrage the modesty of his innocent daughter and his attempt to usurp the power by murdering him.

    (iv) Caliban realises his mistake. He is embarrassed that he took a drunkard, a stupid fool for a god and worshipped him. Finally he realises that Stephano is no match for Prospero and it is better to serve him. He seems to have a bit of remorse and repentance. He promises to do things wisely in order to get Prospero's favour.

    (v) a) sirrah: an impolite form of address

    b) sore: experiencing pain

    c) grace: good will

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  • Q3

    Read the passage given below and answer the questions that follow.


    These are not natural events; they strengthen

    From strange to stranger.— Say, how came you hither?


    If I did think, sir, I were well awake,

    I’d strive to tell you. We are dead of sleep

    And—how we know not—all clapped under hatches;

    Where, but even now, with strange and several noises

    Of roaring, shrieking, howling, jingling chains,

    And mo diversity of sounds, all horrible,

    We were awaked; straightway at liberty;

    Where we, in all her trim, freshly beheld

    Our royal, good, and gallant ship; our master

    Capering to eye her: on a trice, so please you,

    Even in a dream, were we divided from them

    And were brought moping hither.

    (Act V, Scene I)

    (i) Alonso says, "These are not natural event." Which events is he referring to?

    (ii) Where was the Boatswain? Who brought them to Prospero's cell?

    (iii) Narrate Boatswain's experiences in the ship.

    (iv) What did the Boatswain see when he awoke from his sleep? How did his companion react?

    (v) Give the meanings of the following words as they are used in the context of the passage:

    a) clapped b) capering c) moping


    (i) Alonso is referring to the events happened since the onset of the tempest. A huge storm batters their ship and the survivors wakes up on an island, a song puts them all to sleep again, a banquet disappears from their sight, a voice rebukes them of their crimes, the sight of Ferdinand playing chess with a beautiful maid and then the appearence of the Captain and the Boatswain before them.

    (ii) The Boatswain was in the ship. It was Ariel who separated the Captain and the Boatswain from others and brought them to Prospero’s cell in a dull and semi-conscious state.

    (iii) Boatswain recounts the events of the storm. They were all fast asleep and they didn’t know how all of them were stowed below the deck, where they heard strange and varied sounds of roaring, shrieking, howling and rattling of chains. The sounds were so terrifying that they woke up. All of a sudden they realized that they were free.

    (iv) When awoke from his sleep the Boatswain saw their good and brave royal ship, in all her equipment. The Captain was dancing with joy to see her.

    (v) a) clapped: thrown as prisoners

    b) capering: dancing merrily

    c) moping: in a dull and semi-conscious state

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