In The Tempest, how does Trinculo act, and how does Shakespeare present the conflict among Stephano, Trinculo, and Caliban?
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Trinculo is a cowardly, selfish fool, and his words and actions all show this. When he finds Caliban, he thinks of taking him to England to be displayed for money. Then they get drunk together—not a good action when you're stranded on an unknown island. As they do, they start to make plans to overthrow Prospero. As a rule, it's not a good plan to make political plots with someone you consider a sideshow attraction (Caliban).
Because Trinculo speaks in prose throughout the play, we know immediately that he is of inferior social class. He speaks very informally; his language is shallow and base. His childish fear of the storm and the noises on the island demonstrates a comical weakness in character, but his contemptuous mockery of Caliban, and his quick agreement to take part in a plot to kill Prospero demonstrate his total lack of integrity. He is quickly distracted from the plot to kill Prospero when he sees the beautiful apparel hanging on the line and determines to steal it. Trinculo is punished by Prospero in the end, but the rogue can only complain of the discomfort he has endured. He is as foolish in the end as he was in the beginning.
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