Changing Rooms, with Caliban and two Neapolitan drunks (5.1.290-300) #StormTossed

ALONSO         This is a strange thing as e’er I looked on.

PROSPERO     He is as disproportioned in his manners

As in his shape. Go, sirrah, to my cell;

Take with you your companions. As you look

To have my pardon, trim it handsomely.

CALIBAN        Ay, that I will; and I’ll be wise hereafter

And seek for grace. What a thrice-double ass

Was I to take this drunkard for a god,

And worship this dull fool!

PROSPERO                                         Go to, away.

ALONSO         [to Stephano and Trinculo]

Hence, and bestow your luggage where you found it.

SEBASTIAN    Or stole it, rather.

[Exeunt Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo] (5.1.290-300)


Alonso is politer than Sebastian and Antonio, much: this is a strange thing as e’er I looked on; it’s a wondering response, rather than a particularly disparaging one, especially given that Alonso has certainly seen plenty of strange things in the last few hours… Prospero is more dismissive, but also quite restrained, agreeing that Caliban does indeed look strange, implicitly, and that he is every bit as deformed? monstrous? ugly? in his behaviour and morals is Prospero’s point; inside reflects outside, and vice versa. This doesn’t quite accord with Prospero’s next instruction, though: he sends Caliban, and Trinculo and Stephano, to his cell – to trim it handsomely. This probably means to tidy up and clean, but it also has an incongruous suggestion of freshening up the interior decoration. Changing Rooms, with Caliban and two Neapolitan drunks. (But what does that suggest about Prospero’s plans?) Prospero does suggest that he will pardon Caliban, and Caliban seems to appreciate this: I will (look to have your pardon, as well as doing the housework), and I’ll be wise hereafter and seek for grace. This is sometimes taken as suggesting that Caliban will reform, a kind of conversion, even, especially given the juxtaposition of grace (which here might be meant specifically in the Christian sense, as well as referring to Prospero’s favour) with his repenting of his taking this drunkard for a god and worshipping this dull fool! And that’s pretty much that for Caliban, his last lines in the play, briskly dismissed by Prospero (Go to, away, get on with it then), with Stephano and Trinculo following on, ordered to put back their glistering apparel, their luggage, where they found it – or stole it, rather, adds Sebastian, anxious to have the last word, to be seen to be on the side of the winners, the authorities, the forces of order. And that’s his last lines too. All the main characters have finally, briefly, been on stage together, but now they start to disperse.



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