Caliban Upon Setebos Analysis

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Discerning Caliban’s Humanity In literature, interpretations are endless. Some people may view a work in a particular light, while others may have contradictory perceptions. William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, written in 1610, and Robert Browning’s poem “Caliban Upon Setebos”, written in 1864, are two texts that have both similarities and differences. Caliban, who is the magician Prospero’s slave, is a significant character in both the play and the poem. In the play, Caliban is inferior to Prospero; in the poem, he is inferior to the god Setebos. He is portrayed as a subject in both works; however, this subjugation does not dehumanize him. Browning enhances Shakespeare’s play by communicating that Caliban’s humanity is reinforced not only by his emotions, language, and beliefs but also his submission to higher powers, which reveals Caliban’s acceptance of his own powerlessness and mortality. Colonialism was a prevalent issue during Shakespeare’s time, and The Tempest reflects the injustice of how conquered people were rendered powerless by their conquerors. There were frequent…show more content…
In 1859, Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species, which details the scientific evolution of man (Tracy 487). Browning’s poem can be seen as a response to Darwin, since Browning explores the dynamics of religion, especially the ways in which lesser subjects regard the supreme beings (Howard 249). “Caliban Upon Setebos” improves upon the character of Caliban and portrays him as a pensive human who has complicated relations to higher powers. Because Caliban is more aware of himself and the existence of Setebos, he is portrayed as religious. Thus, Browning expresses the importance of faith through Caliban’s contemplation of the higher

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