Empathy in the face of Prospero’s hostile

Empathy is a key characteristic that even human needs to
have. It not only provides the individual with the tools needed to understand
one another, but adds compassion and pity to one’s characteristics. In The Tempest, written by William Shakespeare, the idea of ecocriticism and Caliban’s
perspective on it, shape the ways in which Caliban communicates and interacts
with Prospero. Caliban’s empathy
for the island in The
Tempest is the prime motivation
that helps him reconcile his views and beliefs on the natural world. When in
the face of Prospero’s hostile colonialism, language, and knowledge, Caliban is
forced to accept this new way of living, essentially tearing down his relationship
with the natural world. It soon becomes evident that Caliban’s flaws are
simply the repercussion of his unfair treatment under the tyrannical control of
Prospero. 

 

ECOCRITICALISM

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The physical
environment plays a fundamental part in shaping the individuals identity. The
idea of ecocriticism explores the relationship that mankind has to the natural
world. Shakespeare creates the character of Caliban, a half-human,
half-monster, who is native to the island that Prospero inhabits. His
connection to the island is made clear in many cases when he refers to the
island as his own. By stating that “this island’s mine, by Sycorax my
mother”, Caliban shows his rightful ownership and his inherent connection
he possesses to the land. It is in Caliban’s belief that he is responsible for
maintaining and occupying his homeland in a way that Sycorax, his mother, would
have wanted. Caliban not only has a clear view who should own it, but also of
the island’s beauty, capabilities, and intricacy. When speaking and convincing
Stefano and Trinculo to overthrow Prospero Caliban points out all the aspects
of the island that appeals to him. He says: “Be not afeard. The isle is
full of noises, sounds, and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments will hum about mine ears, and
sometime voices that, if I then had waked after long sleep, will make me sleep
again. And then, in dreaming, the clouds methought would open and show riches
ready to drop upon me, that when I waked I cried to dream again.”. Caliban
explicitly comments on his opinion of the island and what is able to do for
him, other than provide materialist resources. When Caliban dreams of the
island, he is met with “invigorating music that delights his ears”
causing him to want to continue to sleep in order to escape his harsh reality
with Prospero. Caliban describes how his dreams are much more pleasant when
thinking of the island and how it once was. Even when he is compelled to awaken
from his fantasy, he desires to return to his dream where he is able to
disconnect the life he lives under Prospero from his image of the island. This
ecocriticism position that Caliban holds displays his reliance and connection
he possesses to the island. Unfortunately for Caliban, Prospero threatens the
composition and the ways things work between Caliban and the island by
introducing new language and knowledge.