Some few odd lads, and Caliban a monster once again (5.1.253-266) #StormTossed

PROSPERO     [to Alonso]      How fares my gracious sir?

There are yet missing of your company

Some few odd lads that you remember not.

Enter ARIEL, driving in CALIBAN, STEPHANO and TRINCULO in their stolen apparel.

STEPHANO    Every man shift for all the rest, and let no man take care for himself, for all is but fortune. Coraggio, bully monster, coraggio.

TRINCULO      If these be true spies which I wear in my head, here’s a goodly sight.

CALIBAN        O Setebos, these be brave spirits indeed!

How fine my master is! I am afraid

He will chastise me.

SEBASTIAN                                        Ha, ha!
What things are these, my lord Antonio?

Will money buy ’em?

ANTONIO                                           Very like. One of them

Is a plain fish and no doubt marketable. (5.1.253-266)


Prospero is enjoying this; this is his last reveal, and the stakes are now pretty low. Alonso had surely forgotten about his butler and his jester, and of course none of the other Neapolitans, or even Ferdinand, have seen Caliban before. To describe them as some few odd lads is a nice touch: they are certainly odd, but lads is pushing it, albeit it’s quite a friendly introduction. Ariel seems to be moving at speed, driving them in, maybe even with a whip, certainly chasing them. Stephano and Trinculo are still in their stolen apparel, looking ridiculous, perhaps even wet. And Stephano is frightened, but also still drunk (and stupid); he gets his words mixed up, and rather than saying, every man for himself (which would make sense in what he imagines to be a desperate, life or death situation) he says, every man shift for all the rest, and let no man take care for himself, unless this is an anticipation of the Three Musketeers (all for one, and one for all) which doesn’t sound very like Stephano, selfish, foolish coward that he is. He surely means to endorse individualism here, rather than cooperation and mutual aid. All is but fortune; they’re at the mercy of fate, it’s all down to chance and good luck now. A final, craven, encouragement to Caliban: coraggio, bully monster, courage, the Italian making him sound less like a genuine Neapolitan and more like a swaggering braggart soldier. Perhaps he wants Caliban to get in front and do any fighting required. At any rate, Stephano seems to fear imminent danger, and even death. Trinculo is rather quicker on the uptake: unless my eyes deceive me (that is, they are not true spies) here’s a goodly sight. He could be referring to the King, his masters and even to the others, perhaps especially the Master and Boatswain; he could also have spotted Miranda. But Caliban knows at once that the game’s up, calling on Setebos, his so-called god, and imagining that these too are all Prospero’s spirits. And he notices Prospero’s changed appearance: how fine my master is! But mostly, he’s afraid of Prospero; I am afraid my master will chastise me. Unkind words of reproach and rebuke? Curses? Or the dreaded pinching?

The parallel is neatly underlined between Trinculo and Stephano, and Antonio and Sebastian. The former sought to kill Prospero and take over the island; the latter planned to kill Alonso and claim the throne of Naples. They have all been thwarted in their attempts, even though the drunkards have even sought to dress the part, in their stolen apparel, their superficial desire for glitter and fine things (here also contrasted with Prospero’s proper, reassumed finery). Most of all, Sebastian and Antonio have exactly the same reaction as Trinculo and Stephano previously had to Caliban: what things are these? Could they be sold for profit? And Caliban is again the freak, a plain fish, and no doubt marketable, thought of solely in terms of his potential for being put on display as a monster, making money for his masters.


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