Summary: Act II, scene ii
Caliban enters with a load of wood, and thunder sounds in the background. Caliban curses and describes the torments that Prospero’s spirits subject him to: they pinch, bite, and prick him, especially when he curses. As he is thinking of these spirits, Caliban sees Trinculo and imagines him to be one of the spirits. Hoping to avoid pinching, he lies down and covers himself with his cloak. Trinculo hears the thunder and looks about for some cover from the storm. The only thing he sees is the cloak-covered Caliban on the ground. He is not so much repulsed by Caliban as curious. He cannot decide whether Caliban is a “man or a fish” (II.ii.
Stephano enters singing and drinking. He hears Caliban cry out to Trinculo, “Do not torment me! O!” (II.ii.
Analysis: Act II, scene ii
Trinculo and Stephano are the last new characters to be introduced in the play. They act as comic foils to the main action, and will in later acts become specific parodies of Antonio and Sebastian. At this point, their role is to present comically some of the more serious issues in the play concerning Prospero and Caliban. In Act I, scene ii, Prospero calls Caliban a “slave” (II.ii.
Stephano and Trinculo, a butler and a jester respectively, remain at the low end of the social scale in the play, and they have little difficulty finding friendship with the strange islander they meet. “Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows,” says Trinculo (II.ii.
More important than the emphasis on the way in which Caliban seems to others more monster than man, is the way in which this scene dramatizes the initial encounter between an almost completely isolated, “primitive” culture and a foreign, “civilized” one. The reader discovers during Caliban and Prospero’s confrontation in Act I, scene ii that Prospero initially “made much of” Caliban (II.ii.
The reader can see these events in Act II, scene ii, with Trinculo and Stephano in the place of Prospero. Stephano calls Caliban a “brave monster,” as they set off singing around the island. In addition, Stephano and Trinculo give Caliban wine, which Caliban finds to be a “celestial liquor” (II.ii.
By this point, Caliban has begun to resemble a parody of himself. Whereas he would “gabble like / A thing most brutish” (I.ii.