Wednesday, June 10, 2009

In reference to article by Lupton, Julia Reinhard. “Creature Caliban.” Shakespeare Quarterly, Vol. 51, No. 1 (Spring, 2000), 1-23.

Lupton introduces her essay with various definitions of creature. She then discusses the relationship of Caliban with the likes of Adam and Leviathan – the extremes between human and creature. Throughout her article, Lupton follows the creation of Caliban not only through the composition of Caliban, but also the capacity for change in Caliban.

Lupton throws out ideas that appear to be incredulous, but brings in the support two to three pages later. This style makes for a difficult read because she creates doubt first and then proves her point before repeating the cycle. After absorbing her entire argument, I like the way she started with the Latin breakdown of creature as “creat- indicating the ordered composition of humanity and the –ura¬ signaling its risky capacities for increase and change, foison and fusion” (2). Lupton rightly describes a creature as a slave to its Creator, but equates Prospero with Caliban’s creator. Prospero does become Caliban’s master, but cannot be seen as his creator. Prospero facilitates the learning process of Caliban, yet is not responsible for the origin of Caliban.
Prospero describes Caliban as an “earthen creature,” giving Lupton the liberty to compare Caliban to Adam. She tries to directly link Caliban to Adam through a “thing made of earth” philosophy, raising, however, an objection to her own statement later in the same paragraph stating that Caliban “bears no obvious resemblance to his Creator” (8). In this passage, referring to God as the Creator, Lupton relies on the Biblical theory that man is created in the image of God. Two thoughts come to mind: 1) Caliban cannot be equated with Adam because Caliban is not human and does not resemble Adam, meaning Caliban cannot resemble his Creator, and 2) Because God does not take a form, it is implied that every and all beings are created in his image (God is in all) – in this case, Caliban does bear resemblance to his Creator. Either interpretation leaves a hole in Lupton’s argument. Through an erroneous argument, she is right in both cases.
Lupton contradicts herself when she states that Caliban is a creature “without a reflex toward the Creator and also without recourse to a subjective or sexual relation” (13). She later discourses on Caliban’s attempt to rape Miranda and “desire to have ‘peopled . . . / This isle with Calibans’” (18). I agree that Caliban is destined to be alone, but his dialogue shows that he has a desire to leave a legacy. Leaving a legacy would add meaning and legitimacy to Caliban’s life (reminiscent of Shakespeare’s theme in the “young man” sonnets). Lupton then notes, “Caliban shares Adam’s sexual passion, but like Leviathan, never finds a mate” (21). In doing so, she has conceded that Caliban does have sexual desires, and he could have had a sexual relationship with a human. However, she draws a comparison of Caliban to a monster, Leviathan – away from any comparison of Caliban to a human. Her logic shows that because Caliban is commanded not to have sex with Miranda, his only female option on the island, he is associated with Leviathan, a male beast that has no possible female counterpart anywhere in the world. The loophole rests in the possibility that Caliban could have had sexual relations with Miranda. Lupton’s process could be applied to a priest – is he a monster to be compared to Leviathan because he has been commanded not to have sex?
After seeing a performance of The Tempest, I was interested in studying more about Caliban – who he really is. Lupton answered a few questions for me while raising even more questions. In reading this article, the disagreements that I have in Lupton’s views forced me to create my own views on Caliban, and I thank her for inducing that effect in me.

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