How does Stephano’s wine affect Caliban in The Tempest?

After Caliban tastes Stephano's liquor in The Tempest, Caliban worships Stephano as a god and swears to be his servant.

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In act 2, scene 2 of The Tempest, Stephano and Trinculo come across Caliban. They don't know what to make of this strange little creature, and Caliban certainly does not make a good first impression by complaining loudly that he is being tormented by spirits and falling down in terror when he first sees Trinculo (whom he thinks is one of the spirits who is tormenting him).

When Stephano arrives on the scene, he thinks that there is no better remedy for whatever Caliban is going through than a good dose of wine. The wine has an immediate and dramatic effect on Caliban. It ends his fit and his fear, and it changes his perspective about Stephano and Trinculo. In an aside to the audience, Caliban says that these two men “be fine things,” and he calls Stephano “a brave god” who “bears celestial liquor.” Caliban then kneels down in worship before the drunken butler and swears to be his “true subject. That liquor, he continues, “is not earthly,” and apparently he will do just about anything to have more of it and to serve the man who has “dropp'd from heaven.”

Stephano, of course, makes a joke out of the whole thing and tells Caliban that he is the man in the moon. Caliban quickly agrees, says that he adores Stephano, and kisses his foot. He promises to serve the “wondrous man” and to give him food and wood.

Many scholars note that in this scene Shakespeare is alluding to the effects of alcohol on the Native people of the New World and showing the danger and the abuse that follows from it.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on

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