Shakespeare's View on Slavery

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In The Tempest, by William Shakespeare, the reader is introduced to an interesting character which critiques the master/slave relationship. This character, Caliban, is the slave of a powerful man, Prospero, who treats Caliban cruelly and disrespectfully. Whether or not Caliban deserves this harsh treatment is an issue the reader would have to determine themselves only given the clues Shakespeare has given them. Calibans introduction to the reader is not a flattering one; “A freckled whelp, hag-born not honoured of a human shape… Dull thing I say so; he that Caliban. Whom I now keep in service” (Act 1.2 lines 283-286). If first impressions are everlasting, then our first impression of Caliban is Shakespeare’s way to impose a feeling of disdain on his audience toward Caliban. Caliban is also the son of a witch called Sycorax. During Shakespeare’s era, bloodline is a big determination of social status which would further coax his audience into believing that Calibans slavery is within social boundaries. “Thou poisonous slave, got by the devil himself,” (Act 1.2 line 319) this line is a direct stab at Caliban and his witch of a mother. By calling Caliban “poisonous” and his mother the devil, Shakespeare makes it very clear that the audience should not feel pity on Caliban and his slave hood. Caliban is sowing a situation in which he reaped. Caliban was taking in after Sycorax died and was giving everything needed to thrive by Prospero. Prospero’s daughter, Miranda, even “pitied thee” (Act 1.2 lines 353) and thought Caliban English. Prospero bluntly states his change of heart, “[I] lodged thee in mine own cell till thou didst seek to violate the honor of my child” (Act 1.2 line 346-348). When Caliban is to rebut Prosperos claim he only makes a fool of himself in the process; “Thou didst prevent me” (Act 1.2 lines 350). Caliban simply blames Prospero for his attempt
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