Caliban as the “Other”

In the text A Different Mirror, Takaki studies Shakespeare’s play The Tempest.

The wild and restless character of Caliban has been used as a metaphor for the relationship between colonizers and the “other.” Although early representations of Caliban may have been reflections of the “wild Irish” (during the time, a group Britain viewed as other), we can also use the Caliban metaphor to represent the relationship between whites and blacks dating back to the 17th century.

Here are some portrayals of Caliban in art and theatre:

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Caliban is often shown as rural and untamed. In order to separate Caliban from Prospero and other ‘civilized’ characters, Caliban is costumed either naked or in rugged clothing. He appears sub-human and animal-like in his mannerisms and abilities.
Similar to the treatment of African Americans during times of slavery, characters in The Tempest believed Caliban needed ‘saving’ and ‘civilizing.’ The Caliban metaphor can be applied to the many groups that have experienced cultural othering, African Americans being one example.

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