Caliban from a Different Mirror

Topics: Colonialism, North America, Indigenous peoples of the Americas Pages: 3 (833 words) Published: March 3, 2013
The Tempest "Claiming Caliban"
Caliban in "The Tempest" was the son of Sycorax, and his character is a symbolic representation of indigenous or "savage" people. His character represents the stereotypes of indigenous or uncivilized people and a direct contradiction of his more "civilized" counterparts, most specifically Prospero who is seen as his conqueror or master, and how he is below that of Prospero and therefore the indigenous people of the Americas were below that of the European colonists. This can also be seen as a reflection of William Shakespeare's view of colonizing North America and what was imagined the American indigenous people were like.

Caliban being both the son of Sycorax and the devil, also seen as the product of nature, is very representative of how European people at the time viewed the natives in the Americas and his treatment foreshadows the brutal interactions between colonists and the American natives. As we see in Prospero's view his impression of him is that of distaste as he calls Caliban "not honored with human shape (I.i.17)". This can be interpreted as Prospero seeing Caliban as not having "human shape" due to his clothing, skin color and earthly look which automatically positions him below that of Prospero and Miranda. It can also be seen as possibly a first impression of a colonialists and how they would see natives in the Americas as inferior due to their lack of clothing and cleanliness. This initial view of Caliban can also be seen to represent the "De-evolution" or "dehumanization" of natives and of what was seen at the time in the African people, as referenced by Takaki in his analyzation of the play where Shakespeare depicted him as a "barbarian" and "savage incapable of nurture (I.ii.37). Using this as not only a description of Caliban's nature but also as justification for the treatement of not only him but also referencing a justification for the mistreatment of indigenous people in Africa and the furture...
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