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Analysis of Shakespeare’s The Tempest – Caliban and Trinculo

Psychoanalytic Analysis of Caliban and Trinculo of The Tempest

From a psychoanalytic perspective, both Caliban and Trinculo of Shakespeare’s The Tempest are interesting characters. Caliban is very sexual and bitter, while Trinculo is at odds with everything: his situation of being washed ashore and wrongly accused of saying things when he did not utter a word, as well as Caliban’s worship of an unkingly man, his drunken friend Stephano. Caliban has obviously not had all of his desires trained to stay within him, despite Prospero’s punishments and Miranda’s schooling. Trinculo, on the other hand, wastes his emotions in a bottle of liquor and knows better than Caliban who is and is not fit to worship.

Caliban is rude, crude, ugly and lazy. Speaking in a psychoanalytic manner, Caliban is going to be remembered as bitter and obsessed with sex. This sexual desire is going to be coincided first with thoughts of his mutation– a feeling of inadequacy– and then more significantly with the absence of his mother. That he had no parents on which to form an Oedipal complex and knows only who his mother was (nothing is mentioned of his father) makes for interesting observations on how he deals with sexuality. We learn that he does not deny that Prospero is the only barrier between him and the rape of Miranda. It is clear that he has developed only so far as Freud’s theory of id, with small touches of the superego. Caliban’s development of the superego is evident only when he does not wish to receive Prospero’s pinches and cramps. He is otherwise all for anything that will bring him pleasure. Being free of Prospero, fulfilling his sexual desires with Miranda and drinking liquor are all on his menu.

Trinculo is unable to forget, as the butler Stephano does, all of his woes into the bottom of a bottle. He is upset by the way that Stephano allows himself to be carried away by the worship and praise of Caliban. He is also dismayed in the unjust treatment Stephano dispenses on Caliban’s behalf as Ariel plays Puckish tricks. Clearly, there is no problem with this jester’s ego. He wants himself to be taken care of. He does not appreciate the way he is treated on the monster’s behalf, because he knows he has done no wrong. Later, Trinculo’s id takes over somewhat as he becomes more intoxicated and no longer has the will to let his ego control his id.

Sacred Rage in The Fifth Column

Sacred Rage in The Fifth Column

In The Fifth Column, the hero, who has become finally indistinguishable from the false or publicity Hemingway, has here dosed himself with whiskey; a seductive and desirous woman, for whom he has the most admirable reasons for not taking any responsibility; sacred rage; the excitement of bombardment; and indulgence in that headiest of sports, for which he has now the same excellent reasons — the bagging of human beings.

You may be afraid, after reading The Fifth Column, that Hemingway will never sober up; but as you go on in the new volume in which it appears, which includes also his most recent short stories, you find that your apprehensions were unfounded. Three of these stories have a great deal more body — they are longer and more complex — than the comparatively meagre anecdotes collected in Winner Take Nothing. And here are his real artistic successes with the material of his experiences in Africa, which make up for the miscarried Green Hills: ‘The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber’ and ‘The Snows of Kilimanjaro,’ which disengage, by dramatizing them objectively, the themes which in the carlier book never really got themselves presented. And here is at least a beginning of a real artistic utilization of Hemingway’s experience in Spain: a little incident in two pages which outweighs the whole of The Fifth Column and all his Spanish dispatches, about an old man, ‘without politics,’ who has occupied his life in taking care of eight pigeons, two goats, and a cat, and who has been dislodged and separated from his pets by the advance of the Fascist armies — a story which takes its place in the category of the war series of Callot and Goya, whose union of elegance with sharpness Heming…

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…ntrol of his world, and he has also, within his scope, provided his own kind of antidote. This antidote, paradoxically, is almost entirely moral. Despite his preoccupation with physical contests, his heroes are almost always defeated physically, nervously, practically: their victories are moral ones. He himself, when he trained himself stubbornly in his unconventional, unmarketable art in a Paris which had other fashions, gave the prime example of such a victory; and if he has sometimes, under the menace of the general panic, seemed on the point of going to pieces as an artist, he has always pulled himself together the next moment. The principle of the Bourdon gauge, which is used to measure the pressure of liquids, is that a tube which has been curved into a coil will tend to straighten out in proportion as the liquid inside it is subjected to an increasing pressure.

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