The Tempest

by: William Shakespeare

Five Key Questions

3) Why does Caliban hate Prospero and Miranda?

Caliban sees Prospero and Miranda as imperialists who took control of an island that he felt belonged to him. In a way, Caliban ironically mirrors Prospero, who was also violently unseated from power. However, whereas Prospero ended up free but in exile, Caliban ended up enslaved in his own home. Caliban resents the sudden and radical shift in his social position, going from the free ruler of the island to the servant of a tyrannical master. In addition to despising Prospero for enslaving him and divesting him of all power, Caliban also resents Miranda for the education she has given him. Miranda describes her efforts as selfless and guided by pity. However, Miranda’s educational program also intends to civilize Caliban, a “savage” who “wouldst gabble like / A thing most brutish” (I.ii.). Caliban sees Miranda’s apparently selfless act as an extension of her father’s imperialism. He also insists that the only good thing about being forced to learn her language is that he can now fully express his hatred: “You taught me language, and my profit on ’t / Is I know how to curse” (I.ii.).