In making this decision he decides on mercy rather than vengeance and declares that that he will give up his magical powers that made him inhuman and corrupted. “I’ll break my staff, bury it certain fathoms in the earth,” Caliban, the son of evil Sycorax, is acquired as Prospero’s slave when he comes onto the island. Caliban is seen to be inhuman by Prospero.
He argues that the island rightfully belonged to him and mocks the idea of Prospero being the ruler of the ‘Kingdom’ by telling him, “I am all the subjects that you have” As if to say to Prospero ‘you’re not much of a ruler if I am your only subject’. However, Prospero still decides to colonise the island and oppress Caliban. In Shakespeare’s time, around 1950, explorers were still discovering parts of the globe and taking it over. An example of this is the British Empire where they were discovering parts of Africa and colonising them, they would enslave the population and take treasures and goods.
Prospero’s overruling of the island is another example of this, “This thing of darkness, I acknowledge mine. ” Prospero was once kind to Caliban before he chose to enslave him, but his reason for this is arguably justified. He once cared for Caliban until he tried to rape Miranda. Prospero and Miranda tried to nurture him and turn his animal nature into civil and good, but he spurned their education with a degree of contempt, “You taught me language and my profit on’t is I know how to curse. ” As a result of this, Prospero made Caliban his slave and treated him as an animal.
This is closely linked to power and colonisation, as Prospero has taken the ownership of the island which Caliban once had and turned him into his slave. Prospero orders him to do menial jobs around the island and controls Caliban through fear of his power and physical punishment such as painful ‘cramps’ and ‘side stitches’. As punishment may have been deserved for Caliban, it was perhaps not deserved entirely. The way Caliban behaved toward Miranda and Prospero is seen to be horrible and immoral in a civilised human’s point of view, but it must not be forgotten that Caliban is an animal with simple thoughts and instincts.
He does not know or think like a polite civilized human would as he is a feral animal, raised by himself in the wild and therefore has no morals. Prospero does not see this as he is considerably narrow minded. He recognises these ‘ill mannered’ actions of Caliban but fails to see that Caliban is also capable of thought and human sensitivity. As a result of Prospero misunderstanding of Caliban, he too, does not understand Prospero. Prospero treats Caliban with such insolence after he tries to rape Prospero’s daughter and as a result of this, Caliban hates Prospero for enslaving him and simply doesn’t know what he did wrong.
This irrational punishment for a wild creature like Caliban is an example of Prospero being quick to use and abuse his power. When Caliban bumps into Stephano and Trinculo, who are not under Prospero’s power as he did not know they were on the island as yet, he begs to become their master when they treat him humanly and share their alcohol with him, “How does thy honour? Let me lick thy shoe. I’ll not serve him, he is not valiant. ” He then plots to kill Prospero for how he has treated him explaining his intentions with relish, “With a log batter his skull”.
But as much as Caliban is brutal and animalistic, he shows a soft side to his character to show he is not always a brute, “I cried to dream again” He also shows that he has intelligence as he knows to remove Prospero’s power by taking his books of magic and cloak before killing him, “There thou mayst brain him, having seized his books. ” It is frequently shown that he abuses his power, often psychologically torturing and teasing the new inhabitants on the isle. He does this to Alonso when for the whole play he sends Ariel to tell him that his son is dead when he is really alive.
“Thee of thy son, Alonso, They have bereft” This shows Prospero’s sourness and cruelty in deceiving Alonso that his son has died. He also torments Alonso, Sebastian, Antonio, Gonzalo, Adrian and Francisco when he brings in a banquet to tease the men with the food they crave, only to remove it as they are invited to eat. When he punishes Alonso and Antonio, he also punishes the other companions which show Prospero’s indiscriminate use of power. ‘Thunder and lightning. ENTER ARIEL, like a harpy, claps his wings upon a table, and with a quaint device the banquet vanishes.
‘ Prospero does this to torment them. He then sends Ariel down to accuse the men of sin with a speech which he prepared, “all the creatures against your peace” By doing this he is punishing the men by using and abusing his inevitable power over the stranded travellers. As the play continues, Prospero asserts power over everyone. His obsession with power soon causes him become deluded and dictatorial over everybody. He often gloats about his supreme power over everyone, “All mine enemies are all knit up”
Despite Prospero’s control over everyone he pleases, he is not perfect and always in charge. An example of this is when he is celebrating to collaboration of Prospero and Miranda forgets about Caliban and his intentions to kill him, “I had forgot that foul conspiracy of the beat Caliban and his confederates against my life” In reply to this Prospero decides to severely inflict pain on three harmless travellers for doing this by instructing his servant Ariel to lead the group through “Toothed briars, sharp furzes, pricking gorse, and thorns, which entered their frail shins.
” He continues to punish the party further more by sending spirits on Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo, “A noise of hunters heard. Enter diverse spirits in shape of dogs and hounds, hunting them about,” The pain inflicted on Caliban and his party is out of proportion to the threat they really were to Prospero. This shows Prospero’s abusive traits. Prospero clearly finds pleasure in imposing pain and punishment. This is caused by the fact that too much power can corrupt and bring out the worst aspects of ones character, causing them to become power obsessed and deluded.
“Let them be hunted soundly” However, at the end of the play his spirit Ariel makes him realise that if he wants to remain human, he must leave his magical powers behind and return Milan a duke and a normal man and teaches him how to be human again. Ariel shows him how his magical powers have disrupted him and therefore Prospero stops teaching everyone a lesson when he learns a lesson himself that punishment and chasing power to become superior to everyone else leads to corruption and causes him to be inhuman and ruthless to others.
He does not fully gain vengeance on his brother and stops punishing him when he learns to forgive him in the end showing a great change in Prospero’s character from the start of the play where his intentions were to punish his brother and teach him a lesson for what he did to Prospero. To conclude the play Prospero decides to go back to Milan a normal man and relapse to ruling the country again.