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Thread: the tempest: caliban's age

  1. #1
    Registered User naphelge's Avatar
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    the tempest: caliban's age

    hi gang,

    I was wondering if anyone had any idea how old Caliban is likely to be in (Shakespeare's) The Tempest?

    I know Miranda was ~3 when she came to the island with Prosp. 12 years ago making her ~15 during the events of the play.

    I also know Sycorax, (Cali's mother) was booted from Algiers to the island while she was pregnant with Cali, but I cannot find any kind of reference for a timeline on when that supposedly occurred.

    I know Ariel was locked in the tree by Sycorax for 12 years by the time Prosp. freed him upon coming to the island, which puts Sycorax on the island at least 12 years before Prosp, making Cali at least 12 years when Ariel was locked in the tree + 12 more years that Prosp. and Miranda have been on the island = 24 years at least.

    Since Sycorax incarcerated Ariel in the tree for not being able to stomache carrying out her evil bidding, it makes sense to assume that Ariel was likely imprisoned shortly after Sycorax's arrival on the island...does that sound logical enough (except we all know what results from assuming)?

    I am just not sure how well that reasoning will hold up in my paper, so any more concrete ideas, sugestions, or opinions on how to more accurately guesstimate Caliban's age during the events of the play are welcome and appreciated.

    thanks,
    nap
    The very existence of flame-throwers proves that some time, somewhere, someone said to themselves, "You know, I want to set those people over there on fire, but I'm just not close enough to get the job done".
    ---
    The late great George Carlin.

  2. #2
    Registered User naphelge's Avatar
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    I originally posted this question in general lit forum b/c I was hoping for some feedback, sometime this year. I see it has since been moved to the more specific Tempest forum that is dead and has not seen any activity since March i think I read for the last post???

    how much sense does it make to move posts into forums that are so specific they remain unvisted for the most part?

    Really silly!
    The very existence of flame-throwers proves that some time, somewhere, someone said to themselves, "You know, I want to set those people over there on fire, but I'm just not close enough to get the job done".
    ---
    The late great George Carlin.

  3. #3
    Dance Magic Dance OrphanPip's Avatar
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    Ha, well I'm sure people have seen it.

    Generally speaking, I think staging of The Tempest usually has a middle aged actor play Caliban, so that's kind of the age I think of for him. I don't think Shakespeare intended there to be a way to know Caliban's age specifically, and besides he's the son of a witch and is a sort of monster, who knows how he would age anyway.

  4. #4
    aspiring Arthurianist Wilde woman's Avatar
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    I'm with OrphanPip; Caliban is supernatural, so it may be futile trying to guess his age, since he may age differently than human beings. One thing to keep in mind is that he's sexually mature enough to desire Miranda.

    How will knowing Caliban's exact age help you develop your paper?
    Ecce quam bonum et jocundum, habitares libros in unum!
    ~Robert Greene, Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay

  5. #5
    Registered User naphelge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wilde woman View Post
    How will knowing Caliban's exact age help you develop your paper?
    Well an accurate speculation of his age could have helped to unearth the sympathetic plight that Prospero is some bad Colonialist who showed up and "stole" the island from Caliban similar to what occured with the NA Indians.

    1) If Cali's age was 12 years when Prosp landed then how much claim does he truely have as native of the island. Unlike the NA Ind. he does not come from multiple generations of people who have made the island their home since the sun began to rise in the east.

    2) If Cali acquired the island b/c Sycorax cleaned house when she arrived by incarcerating inhabitants in trees like she proved apt to do, then what right claim does Cali have to whine and complain that the island his mom stole and left to him has been stolen from him?
    Note: I just realized that point is not dependent upon Cali's age, I guess I still have material for my essay popping thru my head.

    3) If Cali was only 12 years old when Prosp arrived on the island then how capable would he have been to challenege Prosp for the position of the island's magistrate or whatever we want to call him...with either Syc and Cali living alone on the island, and later Cali on his own there is no need for a colonization, but as soon as other people show up, there needs to be some sort of structure set up or else there is bound to be problems...look at what kinds of problems occur with a little organization...letting a child run things, well 'Lord of the Flies' quickly springs to mind here...so how impractical was it for Prosp to set up a colony once on the island? he arrived on the island under very similar pretenses as Sycorax: being banished/exiled from home and seeking out asylum somewhere dry/safe...if Prosp volumtarily went out looking for new islands to conquer and add to a growing list of properties for a conglomerate back in the Old World, then I would have to question his more sinister intentions (a la Columbus/Spain/Engl/Fra...)

    so anyway I was building a case for Prosp to have some of his good nature restored, which has been torn down in the past 30 or 40 years with the introduction of cultural/postcolonial criticism

    BTW... I could not get Kurtz out of my mind as an image for Caliban while reading the play. It seems to me that Cali is Prosp's dark inner self that he does not want to deny he has and punishes hoping it will subside, with of course Ariel being that inner voice we come to rely on more than anyone else's opinion (instinct, gut feeling, intutition, whatever)...perhaps like Tom Hanks Wison in Castaway, who only after 5 years stowed away on an island was having full blown audible conversations with the soccer ball, so I wonder what 12 years would do to a psyche?

    hehe oh well thoughts for another day
    cheers and thanks for replying

    btw: I still think it's silly to shove posts away in the back corner like they do. At least wait a month or something and let the post breath a little out in the general forum and then shelve it away
    The very existence of flame-throwers proves that some time, somewhere, someone said to themselves, "You know, I want to set those people over there on fire, but I'm just not close enough to get the job done".
    ---
    The late great George Carlin.

  6. #6
    aspiring Arthurianist Wilde woman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by naphelge View Post
    so anyway I was building a case for Prosp to have some of his good nature restored, which has been torn down in the past 30 or 40 years with the introduction of cultural/postcolonial criticism
    I hope finding Caliban's age isn't holding up this paper. There's still plenty of textual evidence you could use to support your thesis.

    It seems to me that Cali is Prosp's dark inner self that he does not want to deny he has and punishes hoping it will subside, with of course Ariel being that inner voice we come to rely on more than anyone else's opinion (instinct, gut feeling, intutition, whatever)
    Personally, I think this is a more interesting reading. Usually, I don't like psychoanalytic readings, but it would be interesting to explore Caliban as representative of Prospero's id and Ariel as his superego.

    Good luck with your paper!
    Ecce quam bonum et jocundum, habitares libros in unum!
    ~Robert Greene, Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay

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