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Just as Antonio changes to a master role, where Prospero loses his position, he gains another position on the island. He becomes a master and Caliban, a slave. Prospero usurps the island from Caliban. Not fearing that Prospero would take the island from him, Caliban reveals “. . . all the qualities of th’ isle . . .” and regrets ever doing so (1.2.340342). Caliban sells his birthright just as Esau in the bible does, letting down his guard and revealing secrets when he shows Prospero the island. He leaves no room for protection. And Prospero uses Caliban’s own lips to steal away the island with “sorcery” (3.2.50). So, Caliban is seen as aiding in his own demise.
Figure 19: Essay Excerpt on The Tempest
Esau, for a quick bite of Jacob’s soup, sold his birthright hastily without thought or respect to the fact that he was the eldest son.
The “birthright” comes with many privileges. To sell it is to consider the birthright as nothing more than a name instead of the prestige and status it evokes.
The student provides a parallel between the biblical story of Jacob and Esau and the Shakespearean story of Prospero and Caliban. Who knew that such a story was indeed universal and transcendent?
Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.