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Main Ideas

Themes

Main Ideas Themes

Monstrosity

The theme of monstrosity constitutes the flip-side to the themes of wonder and admiration. Whereas wonder and admiration apply mainly to the beautiful and loving Miranda, monstrosity applies mainly to the ugly and hateful Caliban. The word “monster” appears most frequently in the scenes with Stephano and Trinculo. Upon first laying eyes on Caliban, Trinculo identifies him as a fishy-looking freak, and he imagines exploiting Caliban’s monstrous appearance for profit on the streets of a city: “holiday fools” would willingly part with “a piece of silver” to witness the sideshow attraction. Caliban’s monstrosity derives not from his appearance alone, but from the contrast between his savage appearance and his civilized language. At one point Trinculo expresses surprise that a creature like Caliban should use a term of respect like “Lord.” Although Caliban stands as the primary example of monstrosity in The Tempest, Alonso also uses the word “monstrous” to refer to illusory sounds and visions produced by Ariel.