You are Caliban. Prospero has sent you to fetch wood in Act I, scene ii. You are alone when you suddenly hear thunder and you see somebody (Trinculo, Act II, scene ii) approaching. Write your...

You are Caliban. Prospero has sent you to fetch wood in Act I, scene ii. You are alone when you suddenly hear thunder and you see somebody (Trinculo, Act II, scene ii) approaching. Write your thoughts and feelings.

I would like to know how I must proceed to answer this emphatic question. I am very weak at emphatic questions and I would be grateful if you could give me advice on how to tackle the above question about The Tempest by Shakespeare.

Expert Answers
Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The first step, of course, is to thoroughly understand the text involved. In this case, you must understand the text between Prospero and Caliban in Act I, scene ii, as well as the early text involving Caliban, the thunder, and Trinculo in Act II, scene ii.

To briefly summarize, Shakespeare is providing the "backstory" pertaining to Prospero and Caliban: he is providing the means of meeting and the relationship that developed between Prospero and Caliban before going on in Act II to use Caliban to help advance the plot when Stephano walks past him. Caliban and his mother ("dam") lived alone in isolation on the island when Prospero and Miranda were cast, marooned, upon the island. Prospero teaches Caliban language, which he was without, and elements of basic astronomy, generally taking Caliban into his care. Caliban repaid Prospero by trying to seduce Miranda to produce heirs: "I had peopled else / This isle with Calibans." As a result, Prospero, needing Caliban's services, used his wizardry to trap Caliban in a "rock" ("confined into this rock"), free only to fulfill Prospero's commands of service:

... here you sty me
In this hard rock, whiles you do keep from me
The rest o' the island.

Later, when Caliban is obeying Prospero's commend to collect firewood, there is the sound of fierce thunder--the thunder of a tempest--and Caliban recollects Prospero and hurls curses and abuses upon him even though he knows the spirits that obey Ariel might be anywhere and might, under Prospero's orders, punish him for speaking out against Prospero and for not fulfilling his tasks properly.

... His spirits hear me
And yet I needs must curse. But they'll nor pinch,
Fright me with urchin ... unless he bid 'em;

This is the situation that Caliban is in when he hears the thunder and sees Trinculo, one of Ariel's fairy spirits, approaching. Caliban is fearful of what Trinculo might do to punish him for being slow about wood gathering. For this reason Caliban falls to the earth to pretend to be part of the ground hoping that Trinculo won't notice him and thus won't punish him: "I'll fall flat; / Perchance he will not mind me."

The second step--now that you have re-read the passages and are sure that you understand what they are saying and what is occurring--is to think about what Caliban's words and actions indicate his feelings are. He actually has two sets of feelings: he has emotions toward Prospero and he has emotions toward the spirits of Ariel. Toward Prospero, his basic emotion is anger (there are more complex emotions that you can identify, but the basic one is anger or rage). Toward the spirits, his basic emotion is fear (again, there are more complex emotions you can identify, but the basic one is fear and even dread).

Your third step is to think about how Caliban might express these feelings and the rationalizing thoughts that underscore them. Actually, Caliban has told a lot already about his thoughts of why he feels as he does and about what his feelings are. It is up to you to identify and  understand his comments and rewrite them in your own language and in your own style to (1) reflect accurately Caliban's thoughts and emotions and to (2) enlarge accurately upon what he thinks and feels by adding accurate details.

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The Tempest

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