What Is Caliban’s Relationship to Prospero in The Tempest

In Shakespeare’s play, Caliban is ultimately seen as Prospero’s slave. Their relationship highlights one of the central themes of The Tempest concerning colonialism and imperialism. He is the only native inhabitant on the island and is not treated well by his master. Caliban wishes ill to Prospero and wants to finally take back his land.

Long before the events of the play, Caliban lived on the island with his witch mother. After her death, he inherited the land. We can assume that he was pretty happy with such circumstances. However, Prospero and his daughter, Miranda, arrived there to find a new home. Not thinking about it for too long, Prospero concluded that Caliban needs to be educated and civilized. Most likely, such a view was based on the islander’s looks and manners. In the play, he appears as a half-monster in rubbish clothes. Since they spoke different languages, Prospero organized some lessons. Instead, Caliban had to serve him. Those were the first signs of a typical colonizer’s behavior.

Soon enough, Caliban realized that he was cheated. The magician took away his freedom and his land, giving nothing in return except disrespect and mistreatment. Obviously, the islander started showing aggression and dissatisfaction, which is shown in the play. Caliban curses his master and constantly seeks revenge. However, Prospero threatens his servant with magic, so it never goes on to active measures. Such a relationship is a representation of colonization which Shakespeare wanted to highlight. His main idea is that everything would be much better off if colonizers chose peace and trade instead of using force to take what they desired.

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