"Savage and Deformed": Stigma as Drama in The Tempest.
The ambiguous and therefore amorphous nature of Caliban's deformity has been a perennial problem in both dramaturgical and critical studies of The Tempest at least since George Steevens's edition of the play (1793), acutely since Alden and Virginia Vaughan's Shakespeare's Caliban: A Cultural History (1993), and enduringly in recent readings by Paul Franssen, Julia Lupton, and Mark Burnett. (3) Of all the "deformed" images that actors, artists, and critics have assigned to Caliban, four stand out as the most popular: the devil, the monster, the humanoid, and the racial other. First, thanks to Prospero's yarn of a "demi-devil" (5.1.272) or a "born devil" (4.1.188) that was "got by the devil himself (1.2.319), early critics like John Dryden and Joseph Warton envisioned a demonic Caliban. (4) In a second set of images, the reverberations of "monster" in The Tempest have led writers and artists to envision Caliban as one of three prodigies: an earth creature, a fish-like thing, or an animal-headed man. Prospero's derisions, "earth" (1.2.313-14) and "mountain" (4.1.255), encouraged Romantic critics like Schlegel, Coleridge, and Hazlitt, as well as more recent writers like Franssen, to imagine the islander as some outgrowth of the ground. (5) Elsewhere, Prospero calls Caliban "tortoise" (1.2.316) and "poisonous" (1.2.319), and Trinculo turns this reptilian aspect amphibian by repeatedly riffing on Caliban's fishiness: "a man or a fish?" (2.2.24), "debosh'd fish" (3.2.26), "half a fish and half a monster" (3.2.28-29). Critics such as John Draper, Barry Gaines, Michael Lofaro, and Michael Saenger have focused on these lines, giving their Calibans fins, fangs, scales, tails, and webbed feet. (6) Meanwhile, some of Trinculo's other offhanded remarks, as when he calls Caliban a "puppy-headed monster" (2.2.154-55) with "eyes... almost set in [his] head" (3.2.9), have led to more mammalian monsters. The third image of Caliban, that of the humanoid, seems to be based on his line about being turned into "apes / With foreheads villainous low" (4.1.248-49). Caliban can be the Cro-Magnon man nineteenth-century critics like Daniel Wilson called "the missing link" in their Darwinian gloss on the character, which was famously staged by Herbert Beerbohm Tree. (7) Fourth and finally, Caliban's Patagonian god "Setebos" (1.2.373), Trinculo's reference to a "dead Indian" (2.2.33), Stephano's line about "savages and men of ind" (2.2.58), Prospero's description of a "thing of darkness" (5.1.275) that is "from Argier" (1.2.265), and Miranda's denigration of Caliban's "vile race" (1.2.358) have most recently resulted in a character that is finally human, yes, but still racially other. Inaugurating the post-colonial reading of The Tempest, the Caliban/Cannibal metathesis has resulted in an American Indian for critics like Sidney Lee, Leo Marx, and Leslie Fiedler, or the role has gone to an African actor like Dijimon Hounsou in Julie Taymore's film. (8)
If Caliban's deformity is usually seen as a sign of his "otherness," therefore, there is no consensus on the exact alterity embodied: is it a cultural, racial, biological, or existential otherness? (9) However inflected, this reading actually reproduces what Shakespeare was satirizing in The Tempest. The costumes of demon, monster, humanoid, and racial other come from decontextualized attention on the epithets aimed at Caliban, the selective reader failing to see that these remarks characterize the interpretive errors of the Italians much more than they do the physical body of the islander. The images of Caliban based on these fanciful slanders therefore reveal a tendency some in Shakespeare's audience share with the Italian characters in the play: without careful attention to evidence, difference is exaggerated to make what is difficult to interpret into something radically strange, even unnatural and inhuman.
Thus, the significance of Caliban's body rests in the gap between what it is and what it is said to be. In other words, on top of deformity, a physical feature of Caliban's body, Shakespeare represented stigma, the social construction of the meaning of difference and deviance. As we would expect, Shakespeare's representation of stigma in The Tempest was deeply influenced by Montaigne's Essayes, but Shakespeare did things with stigma that went beyond Montaigne: Shakespeare associated stigma with magic, and he associated magical thinking with trauma. Above all, Shakespeare associated stigma with drama, not only in the sense that he used the fraught social encounter of stigma to generate dramatic tension, but also in the sense that he dramatized the causes and effects of stigma. He staged meaning being made in a volatile exchange between stigmatizers and the stigmatized.
In this regard, The Tempest provides an important link, conceptually speaking, between Montaigne's skeptical attitude toward stigma in the early-modern age and the explicitly dramaturgical theory of stigma developed in the twentieth century by the American sociologist Erving Goffman. In return, Goffman's theory of stigma opens up for us a reading of The Tempest that avoids the excesses of, on the one hand, the old historicist reading that sees Prospero as the nobleman and Caliban as the natural slave and, on the other hand, the new historicist reading that sees Prospero as the oppressor and Caliban as the oppressed. Arguably, these two perspectives on Caliban--the older reading viewing him as a savage, a fool, a clown, a criminal, a monster, a devil, and a cultural deficiency, and the newer reading which sees him as a stereotype, an oppressed native, and a revolutionary with whom we identify--were inevitable given that stigma necessarily makes someone both a villain and a victim.
From Disability Studies to Stigma
Given the systematic misreading of Caliban's body by characters and critics alike, it is somewhat surprising that Caliban has not yet been addressed in the work being done in early-modern disability studies. (10) At the same time, Caliban's absence in disability studies makes a certain bit of sense because he isn't really disabled. He can fetch firewood just fine. In contrast to Shakespearean characters like Richard III and Falstaff, whose physical abnormalities are configured with impairment and disease, Caliban's deformity is more purely a problem of the social construction of corporeal aesthetics. If so, however, then The Tempest is actually quite compatible with what has been called the "social model of disability" in which it is not one's physical or mental impairment that is disabling, or at least not only one's impairment; instead, what really disables someone is societal reactions (stereotypes, prejudices, hostilities, oppression) to physical difference. This social model of disability was first formulated by British activists in the 1970s, and given academic credibility in the 1990s, but the turn from the physical facts of irregular bodies to the social forces that respond to them was made first and most forcefully in 1963 by Erving Goffman. (11)
Goffman's book Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity (1963) grew out of his groundbreaking earlier work, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1959), which used the language of drama--with its scenes, settings, performances, roles, and so forth--to propose a dramaturgical approach to sociological analysis. In The Presentation of Self he argued that the "self," traditionally understood as someone's essential identity, is actually a mutable image we try to impress upon others by performing certain roles in certain social situations: the "presentation of self is therefore all about "the arts of impression management." (12) In Stigma, Goffman made a similar point, defining (but then quickly redefining) stigma as "an attribute that is deeply discrediting, but it should be seen that a language of relationships, not attributes, is really needed." (13) In this essay, therefore, I turn to Prospero, Miranda, Stephano, and Trinculo--as much as to Caliban--to examine the meaning and operation of stigma in The Tempest.
Treating stigma as a social relationship between "the normals" and those who are tagged as inherently inferior, Goffman's 1963 book argued (returning to the language of drama) that stigma is "one of the primal scenes of sociology": "When normals and stigmatized do in fact enter one another's immediate presence, especially when they there attempt to sustain a joint conversational encounter, there occurs one of the primal scenes of sociology; for, in many cases, these moments will be the ones when the causes and effects of stigma must be directly confronted by both sides" (13).
Back in the seventeenth century, as Shakespeare exploited the representational resources of pastoral romance to dramatize a Utopian island and its primitive society in The Tempest, the problem of stigma--its causes and effects--quickly emerged. I am not suggesting here that Prospero, Miranda, Trinculo, and Stephano on the one side and Caliban on the other are led to reckon with the causes and effects of stigma when they come face-to-face--but we in the audience are. In the "primal scenes" of contact between the normals and the stigmatized in the play, Shakespeare dramatized precisely what Goffman later analyzed: the origin and operation of animosity toward those who are tagged as inherently inferior.
As such, it makes sense that our aesthetic experience with The Tempest is remarkably similar to the social experience of stigma described by Goffman: "mixed social situations make for anxious unanchored interaction"; "all will not go smoothly"; "self-consciousness and 'other-consciousness' occurs, expressed in the pathology of interaction-uneasiness" (18). Coming from the perspective of disability studies, Ato Quayson has described this sort of literary experience as an "aesthetic nervousness" in which "the dominant protocols of representation within the literary text are shortcircuited in relation to disability": "The final dimension of aesthetic nervousness is that between the reader and the text." (14) In this essay, I aim to expand the scope and significance of "aesthetic nervousness" by identifying it as a phenomenon related to stigma rather than merely disability. I opt for the vocabulary of stigma over that of disability (and I would nudge the discourse in this direction) for several reasons.
First, the ethical and political motives of the social model of disability, which have given early-modern disability studies its activist edge, while commendable, do not gel with Shakespeare's dramatic project in The Tempest. In contrast, Goffman's analytical approach to stigma--attempting to explain the problem rather than advocate a political solution--is more helpful, especially if we group The Tempest (as I think we should) with Shakespeare's "problem plays." (15)
Second, Goffman's theory allows for a reading of The Tempest which is more nuanced than the one which views the Italians as the colonizing, disabling, oppressing villains and Caliban as the colonized, disabled, oppressed victim. By bringing audiences to sympathize with both the stigmatized character (the demonized Caliban) and the stigmatizers (the victimized Prospero and Miranda), Shakespeare anticipated what Goffman later argued when insisting that stigma is constitutionally uncomfortable from all angles, including ours in the audience. If Caliban was stigmatizable to Prospero, Prospero is stigmatizable to us today now that the practice of stigma has itself become stigmatized. "Taken through time," as Goffman argued, "The individual is able to play both parts in the normal-deviant drama" (133), a phenomenon occurring in both the text of The Tempest and its critical tradition. What is seen as deviant at the start of the play (Caliban) is understand to be normal by the end of the play. And what was normal in the old historicist reading (Prospero) became what was deviant in the new historicist reading.
Third, the vocabulary of stigma (in contrast to that of disability) allows us to see The Tempest as the capstone of a concern that fascinated Shakespeare across his entire career. He had already written several plays and poems exploring the traditions of stigma inherited from classical literature and sixteenth-century pseudo-scientific manuals such as the English astrologer Thomas Hill's The Whole Art of Physiognomie (1556) and the French surgeon Ambrose Pare's Of Monsters and Prodigies (1573). (16) Shakespearean characters like Richard III and Aaron the Moor were marked off by their bodies because physical difference was the insignia of evil in the Renaissance, an aesthetic Shakespeare both exploited and undercut. He both stigmatized his characters himself, as when he made Bottom an ass to signify his stupidity, and dramatized his characters stigmatizing each other, as when Falstaff and Bardolph riff on each other's physical abnormalities. Significantly, many of Shakespeare's stigmatized characters--Richard III, Aaron, Shylock, Don John, Falstaff, Thersites, Edmund, and Caliban, to name a few--occupy a similar dramatic space and serve a similar dramatic function even though they are quite different in their differentness. Goffman's identification of the three types of difference that are commonly stigmatized--(1) physical abnormalities, (2) behavioral aberrations, and (3) racial differences--is not only strewn across this collection of stigmatized Shakespearean characters but is also assembled as a summation of sorts in Caliban. (17) Exhibiting all three of Goffman's stigmatizable features, Caliban is a (1) deformed (2) criminal (3) from another land and (4) a bastard to boot, at least according to Prospero. Caliban is an Uber-stigmatic. Goffman's whole point, however, was that the causes and effects of stigma are the same regardless of the reason that someone is stigmatized. By using the same dramatic strategy to represent characters with physical deformities, racial differences, and bastard births, Shakespeare--like Goffman--was attending not to the specific issues of physical deformity, racial difference, or bastardy but to the more general phenomenon of stigma, understood as discredited difference from cultural norms.
Stigma as Magic
In Othello, to look at one example of Shakespearean stigma more closely, interpretation of the stigmatized body preempts the actual appearance of that body. At first identified only by his race, "the Moor" (1.1.40) receives a series of racist slanders from Iago, Roderigo, and Brabantio--"thick-lips" (1.1.66), "old black ram" (1.1.88), "the devil" (1.1.91), "Barbary horse" (1.1.111-12)--that seem to suggest a character who, like Aaron the Moor, "will have his soul black like his face" (Titus Andronicus, 3.1.205). Dismayed that his daughter loves this devil, Brabantio accuses the Moor of witchcraft, although it was Brabantio himself who invited the Moor into his home and encouraged him to embellish his adventures abroad with magic and romance. In doing so, Brabantio exhibits what social anthropologists have come to call "magical thinking," not only because he asks for a world enchanted with myths and monsters, but also because, once he encounters the unexpected and undesireable union of his daughter and the Moor, he simplifies his world by dividing it into literally black-and-white terms: the black vs. the white, the African vs. the European, the other vs. the self, the bad vs. the good. Yet when "valiant Othello" (1.3.48) appears, addressed now as an individual, not a racial abstraction, he shows himself to be polite, honest, humble, patient, brave, heroic, and worldly wise. In the first act of Othello, therefore, Shakespeare asked us to see stigma as magical thinking and magical thinking as demonstrably wrong, a point punctuated when the Duke says to Brabantio, "If virtue no delighted beauty lack, / Your son-in-law is far more fair than black" (1.3.289-90). Much virtue in "if," as Shakespeare said in a different context (As You Like It, 5.4.103). if virtue is beautiful, then Othello is not black, yet Othello is obviously black, which demolishes the premise of the Duke's conditional: virtue is not necessarily beautiful, beauty not necessarily virtuous, an aesthetic Shakespeare famously explored in the dark lady sequence of his Sonnets.
Shakespeare again grouped stigma with superstition in the statements from the Earl of Gloucester in King Lear. In his first scene, Gloucester stigmatizes his son Edmund as a bastard. In his second scene, Gloucester sees the apparent infidelity of his legitimate son Edgar portended in eclipses, a superstition the bastard Edmund both prompts and mocks. In both Othello and King Lear, therefore, Shakespeare associated stigma with myth, superstition, and magical thinking, a conceit that then culminated in The Tempest, where the stigmatizer is a card-carrying magician.
The stigma in the "savage and deformed" of the dramatis personae enters into the text of The Tempest, for example, when Prospero calls Caliban a "mis-shapen knave" (5.1.268). Like the word de-formed, the word misshapen negates (in a particular case) even as it proposes (in the abstract) a normal physical "form" or "shape"; by the same logic, "savage" and "knave" are negations of normal morality ("civility" and "nobility"). In this line of thought, both bodies and behaviors separate cleanly into the pleasant, the desirable, and the normal on one side and the unpleasant, the undesirable, and the abnormal on the other. This scheme hangs on the Ciceronian proverb that the Elizabethan playwright Ulpian Fulwell made into an interlude, Like Wil to Like (1568), which the social anthropologist James Frazer called the first law of magical thinking, the law of similarity, "that like produces like." (18) More recently, the historian Stuart Clark has characterized magical thinking as "oppositional thinking," and I would like to suggest that Prospero conjures Caliban into a system of what Clark calls "dual symbolic classification":
In ethnographical literature, these [systems] have often been expressed visually by lists of opposed terms and categories drawn up in adjacent columns. This makes it easier to read the two co-ordinates that establish the significance of any listed item--one of them provided by the horizontal axis of the single opposition between that item and the corresponding item in the other column, the other by the vertical axis of multiple analogies between it and the other items in the same column. The presence of many different kinds of paired opposites constitutes the system's conceptual and social inclusiveness and, hence, its complexity. At the same time, the fact that they are all instances of one logical relation and enjoy powerful symbolic associations with each other gives it unity and coherence as a representational scheme.... The analogical associations and mutual reinforcements are such that any item in a column readily elicits the others, or can stand instead of them, in evoking the valencey that governs the whole column. (19)
On Prospero's island, difference is dichotomized into the binary categories of good and evil. Then goods are conflated with goods, evils with evils, as when Miranda calls Caliban an "abhorred slave, / Which any print of goodness wilt not take, / Being capable of all ill!" (1.2.351-53). Here "goodness" imprints beauty on the body, and "ill" ugliness, because the obvious and important distinction between physical appearance and ethical judgment has been erased. (20) The categories now guiding thought are rearranged according to a totalizing binary of the pleasant and the unpleasant. By the same token, Ferdinand's "brave form" is so stunning that Miranda thinks him a "spirit" (1.2.410-13) or even "a thing divine" (1.2.418), assuming a blessed essence from a beautiful appearance: "There's nothing ill can dwell in such a temple" (1.2.458). When this aesthetic scheme is absolute, as it is for Prospero and Miranda, Caliban cannot change his vice to virtue any more than he can change his ugliness to beauty. Caliban's significance can only intensify, as Prospero remarks: "As with age his body uglier grows, / So his mind cankers" (4.1.191-92). Prospero speaks of Caliban using similes, the rhetorical device designed to create correspondence, because Prospero sees Caliban's body and mind as similarly unpleasant, undesirable, and abnormal: the similar emotions Prospero feels in response to each abnormality, the physical and the moral, are thrown back upon the two isolated stimuli, which are then assumed to exhibit a natural connection. Thus, at the end of The Tempest, the physical and the moral coalesce when Prospero visualizes villainy as deformity, saying that Caliban is "as disproportion'd in his manners, / As in his shape" (5.1.290-91). (21)
Treating Caliban's body as the expression of his behavior, Shakespeare's magician epitomizes the structure of consciousness now called magical thinking. This habit of thought was first critiqued in David Hume's Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1748), specifically in the chapter "Of the Connexion of Ideas," which describes the "gentle force" of "attraction" that unites adjacent ideas in our imagination and keeps them connected in our memory, its varieties being three: resemblance, contiguity, and cause and effect. (22) The first writer to apply Hume's thoughts to the study of magic was E.B. Tylor in 1871:
The principal key to the understanding of Occult Science is to consider it as based on the Association of Ideas, a faculty which lies at the very foundation of human reason, but in no small degree of human unreason also. Man, as yet in a low intellectual condition, having come to associate in thought those things which he found by experience to be connected in fact, proceeded erroneously to invert this action, and to conclude that association in thought must involve similar connexion in reality. (23)
Tylor's account of magical thinking helps us see how Prospero experiences the concurrence of Caliban's physical and moral abnormalities as an aspect of the islander's body, as opposed to an aspect of his own interpretation of that body. From Tylor's perspective, it is surprisingly Prospero, not Caliban, who is the primitive man "as yet in a low intellectual condition."
Like Tylor, Frazer also saw magical thinking as a "misapplication of the association of ideas," though Frazer is more famous for working Hume's idea of "attraction" into the term "sympathetic magic," with its two laws, the law of similarity and the law of contiguity, both laws set off against the law of cause and effect that represents scientific thought. (24) As noted, it is the law of similarity ("like produces like") that structures the stigma Prospero saddles on Caliban, although Prospero never tortures an effigy of his slave, which is the classic example of the law of similarity. As Frazer pointed out, there are two parts to magical thinking, the practical and the theoretical, the one a program of action and the other a metaphysic, the former being the magic most on display in The Tempest and the latter being the unspoken set of habits and assumptions that bring the former into existence, which leaves it to the analyst, as Frazer said, "to discern the spurious science behind the bastard art." (25) To do so with Prospero's magic is my intent in this essay, his practical magic having been thoroughly discussed in the context of Renaissance thought on the subject, leaving the magical thinking that underpins Prospero's actions to be discerned in his conflation of Caliban's physical and moral attributes. (26)
Tylor argued that magical thinking begins with the belief that reality works as it does in The Tempest, a belief dubbed "animism," which holds that the material world, often called the "inanimate" world, is actually a playground for spirits both benevolent and malignant, on up to deities and on down to devils, while humans each have a hermetically sealed soul or nature or essence. Thus, Prospero sees Caliban as evil, his evil as innate, and this constitutional malignancy as the origin of both his physical and his moral abnormality, of both his body and his behavior, which therefore signify each other, an example of what Tylor called "mistaking an ideal for a real connexion." (27) Sigmund Freud quoted this definition of magical thinking when comparing his patients to primitive peoples in Totem and Taboo (1913). (28) Ideal connections come from desire, Freud wrote, while real connections are formed from experience, so someone who believes ideal connections to be real affirms "the reality not of experience but of thought" (108). For Freud, the magical thinker and the modern neurotic alike create coherence in an otherwise chaotic world by acting as though their ideas were their reality, a transaction he called the "omnipotence of thoughts" (107). This "idealism" harkens back to the Platonic idealism in which things have essential properties and the universe is as fixed as it is rational, even if our reeling world of appearances argues otherwise. In short, magical thinking begins with animism, idealism, essentialism, spirituality--call it what you will--and so does stigma. While stigma originated in ancient Greece as the punitive practice of branding slaves and criminals, it shifts from this original legal register to a new theological register when one starts to believe that a world of spirit exists behind the world of matter, that some omniscient and active deity is back there branding criminals with corporeal signs, as if God were a bad poet putting canned symbols into the very fabric of existence.
Magic may be "real" in the fantastic romance of The Tempest--after all, the play is filled with spirits and charms, which generate much of our awe and enjoyment--but magical thinking is as ill-conceived in The Tempest as it is in life. To Prospero, Caliban's body is the signature of his mind and manners, the sign or stigma that coordinates Caliban as a site of all things evil in contrast to Prospero as the habitus of what is good. As such, Prospero displays the "oppositional thinking" described by Stuart Clark, who argued that the Renaissance was a time when "inheritances from the past and contemporary developments and linguistic taste and religious sensibilities disposed educated Europeans to see things in terms of binary opposition on such a scale that we may think of this as one of the distinctive mental and cultural traits of the age" (35). As Clark also noted, however, the inheritances, developments, tastes, and sensibilities of our own time have led to a wholesale deconstruction of binary oppositions. We are now more inclined to think that Prospero only keeps Caliban around to construct a status of superiority for himself, a stratagem that invites us in the audience to deconstruct this status, exposing Prospero as both colonizer and stigmatizer.
I ground my exploration of stigma in The Tempest in these ideas on magical thinking because stigma is about the ways we use categories to think, especially the ways we use binary categories like good and evil, God and Devil, angel and animal, human and monster, master and slave, beauty and ugliness, self and other, and normal and abnormal to apprehend what is foreign, unfamiliar, or objectionable. If indeed Shakespeare used the conceit of magic to critique the errors of categorical thinking in The Tempest, then this play stands as an amazing anticipation of the discourse of magical thinking that emerged some 300 years later in the writings of Tylor, Frazer, and Freud. At the same time, Goffman's theory of stigma, which positions this term as a compromised interpretive event in contrast to an innate physical attribute, amounts to a remarkably public and pressing manifestation of magical thinking in society. To use Clark's terminology of "dual symbolic classification," stigma operates in The Tempest and in society on the assumption that one item in a negatively valued column bears a natural connection to and thus signifies the other items in that column. If so, "we are likely," as Goffman argued, "to employ categorizations that do not fit" (19), which is precisely what Shakespeare dramatized in The Tempest.
Devils and Deformity: Trauma, Drama, and Stigma
For example, we see the mistakes of magical thinking and stigma alike in The Tempest as Prospero obsessively categorizes Caliban as a slave, a stigmatic, an evil outsider, something foreign and radically other, while Shakespeare characterized Caliban as something closer to home. Before bringing Caliban on stage, Shakespeare had Prospero relate the extraordinary origin of the islander's mother, "this damned witch Sycorax" (1.2.263), preconceiving Caliban as otherworldly, both geographically and existentially. (29) She came from Argier in Northern Africa, so Sycorax and Caliban ought to have dark complexions, but she was actually a "blue-ey'd hag" (1.2.69), not only European like the Italian Prospero but perhaps even Northern European like the English Shakespeare. (30) The notionally foreign and exotic is actually quite familiar, Shakespeare setting the conceptual mold he repeatedly used to manage the character of Caliban.
The Algerians feared, hated, and attacked Sycorax, but "for one thing she did / They would not take her life" (1.2.266-67). What was that "one thing"? Sycorax was pregnant with Caliban, so--following a clause from Renaissance witchcraft manuals--the Algerians banished rather than killed her. They marooned her on an island, and if this were a modern case we might suspect that some disruption to the fetal Caliban during this ordeal directly caused his physical deformity. That is, from a scientific perspective rooted in the "law of cause and effect," Caliban's deformed body could point back to the Algerians that abused his mother, but according to the "law of similarity" in magical thinking Caliban's deformity signifies his villainy. Thus, Prospero projects the mythical avatars of good and evil, God and the Devil, onto his own relationship with Caliban, claiming the islander was "got by the devil himself (1.2.320).
Prospero's fantastic romance of Sycorax and her demonic tryst forecasts her son as a preternaturally dangerous devil-spawn, but when Caliban clownishly slogs on stage he is entirely unimpressive, his body largely unremarkable given the costume the text of The Tempest actually requires. His age can be calculated as 24. (31) Perhaps Caliban is "blue-ey'd" like his mother. He is "freckled" (1.2.283), perhaps because his fair-skinned mother mated with a dark-skinned Algerian (rather than the devil). He wears a "gabardine" (2.2.38 and 111), like Shylock, another of Shakespeare's stigmatized characters. He has "long nails" (2.2.168) and perhaps other unhygienic aspects that cause Prospero to deride him as "filth" (1.2.346) and "savage" (1.2.355). In the play's most memorable epithet, Caliban is "a thing most brutish" (1.2.357), a pun that playfully parallels the brute with the Brit, what is "brutish" with what is "British," the foreign with the familiar.
Most importantly, Caliban has, in Prospero's own words, "a human shape." (32) Shakespeare made Caliban base, dirty, even deformed, but not--as Prospero would have it--demonic. It may be quizzical that Prospero describes Caliban as both a demon and a human, but magical thinking is "pre-logical," as the anthropologist Lucien Levy-Bruhl argued: "It does not bind itself down, as our thought does, to avoiding contradiction." (33) But if Caliban is a human being, a dirty and disgusting savage, an uncivilized man in need of education and civilization--which is what Prospero gave him when they first met, the Italian befriending the islander, inviting him into his home, introducing him to his daughter, and teaching him language (34)--then why does Prospero later stigmatize Caliban as a deformed bastard born of the devil? In other words, magical thinking may explain how and why Prospero stigmatizes Caliban, but why is Prospero thinking magically in the first place?
As the anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski argued, magical thinking grows out of chance, danger, and fear. (35) The same is true of stigma. When we attend to the dramatization of stigma in The Tempest, we realize that deformity is not a sign that Prospero has used to read Caliban's internal, spiritual condition from his external, physical body. If it were, then Prospoero would have never taken the deformed Caliban into his family to begin with. Villainy is not Prospero's analysis of Caliban's deformity; instead, deformity is the platform for Prospero's expression and censure of Caliban's villainy. Here stigma is not an analytical reading of another's body but a rhetorical speaking of one's own anxiety, fear, anger, and hatred. In The Tempest, Caliban's deformity is a venue for Prospero to articulate his rage about things that have nothing to do with physical deformity. Caliban's deformity is a wedge between him and his society because it is made to bear the weight of the social tensions between them.
In this reading, it would be the trauma of his daughter's rape at the hands of Caliban which prompted in Prospero's mind the magical thinking that schematizes life in terms of goods and evils and then associates deformity with villainy. The harrowing backstory Shakespeare gave to Prospero, Caliban, and Miranda shows that stigma does not happen in a vacuum. As Shakespeare crafted this story, Caliban's attempt to rape Miranda provoked two responses from Prospero, one immediate and prudent, another delayed and misguided. Initially, an understandably anxious Prospero treated Caliban like a common criminal. He sentenced Caliban to serve hard time in the "rock" (1.2.343) and to perform community service as well: "He does make our fire, / Fetch in our wood, and serves in offices / That profit us" (1.2.311-13). Incarceration and community service are perfectly sensible sanctions for Caliban's offense, preventing future recurrence and collecting on the offender's debt to society. Over time, however, an inconsolable Prospero has come to comprehend Caliban's attempt to rape Miranda as the manifestation of some existential deficiency in Caliban's "nature."
The disturbed mind craves simplicity. In the wake of his daughter's rape, Prospero has become so distraught that he refuses to believe that he and Caliban belong to the same existential class. Something as offensive as Caliban could only come from, in Miranda's words, a "vile race" that "had that in't which good natures / Could not abide to be with" (1.2.358-62). To Prospero and Miranda, their own race, the human race, is a good race with a good nature. Caliban, doing such radical evil, could not possibly belong to the human race; he must belong to a vile race with a vile nature. Caliban must be, as Prospero says, "a devil, a born devil, on whose nature / Nurture can never stick; on whom my pains, / Humanely taken, all, all lost, quite lost" (4.1.188-90). Referring to the mythic binary of God and Devil, Prospero acts here as though Caliban did not accept his humane hospitality because Caliban could not accept it. As a "demi-devil / (For he's a bastard one)" (5.1.272-73), Caliban's nature is not human nature, Prospero concludes.
Prospero speaks of Caliban's "nature" in the same way that he speaks of Antonio's transgressions back in Milan, crediting an "evil nature" rather than an immoral action (1.2.93). As Goffman described it, stigma operates on the assumption that individuals like Caliban and Antonio possess singular, stable, essential, and absolute identities. But "in imputing identities to individuals," Goffman argued, "the wider social setting and its inhabitants have in a way compromised themselves; they have set themselves up to be proven the fool" (135), which is what Shakespeare illustrated in The Tempest by having Prospero ferociously stigmatize Caliban even though the savage clown resembles the civilized protagonist in some pretty significant ways, as discussed in the next section.
But first I want to acknowledge that this is an exacting, some will think overly harsh account of Prospero. He is, after all, the family of the victim in this case. In a more forgiving reading, John Kunit has pointed out that Caliban's enslavement is not motivated by colonialism or racism; instead, it is the sensible and legal response to Caliban's crime given the conventions of criminal justice in Shakespeare's age. (36) Quite right, but demonization of the criminal is not. The logic of the romance genre, which I discuss more fully near the end of this essay, only works if the protagonist begins the play with some moral failing that makes him available for education. Traditionally, Prospero's failing is seen as his pursuit of magic back in Milan but, in drawing a connection between stigma and magic, I am suggesting that Prospero's demonization of Caliban here on the island is also a part and a symptom of his problem. I further suspect that a large part of the discomfort we feel when experiencing Shakespeare's play, and the pleasure we take from it, is a function of the difficulty we have making and justifying moral judgments about Prospero and Miranda (victimized stigmatizers) and Caliban (a stigmatized criminal).
When Shakespeare wanted to characterize Prospero as a man in need of education, he did so by associating the character with magic (back in Milan) and with stigma (here on the island). In observing this configuration of Prospero's turn to magic and to stigma, we have an opportunity to explore the common denominator of each in Prospero's experience and personality. We might speculate, for example, that Prospero's loss of his wife back in Milan contributed to his turn to magic, just as the attempted rape of his daughter here on the island contributed to his turn to stigma. (37) In both cases, trauma, and the search for a simplified and satisfying universal order prompted by it, is what sends someone on his way to magic, tyranny, and stigma.
Stigma and Skepticism: The Self and the Other in Shakespeare and Montaigne
Rape is an unspeakably horrible crime, but it is also an undeniably human crime, not the existential evil of the devil Prospero credits to Caliban's family. Human fathers bred all of Shakespeare's other rapists: Tarquin in The Rape of Lucrece, Demetrius and Chiron in Titus Andronicus, Angelo in Measure for Measure, and Cloten in Cymbeline. On Shakespeare's London stage, as in Shakespeare's London society, rape was not some otherworldly evil but, sadly, an ordinary instance of English immorality. Rather than alienating Caliban as an evil "other," the attempt to rape Miranda actually assimilates him to the civil society known to Shakespeare and his audience: the allegedly demonic is all too domestic.
In this regard, Caliban is something of a bait-and-switch designed to implicate the audience Shakespeare was trying to educate. Shakespeare littered Caliban with language drawn from the demonic incubi of Renaissance witchcraft tracts and the preposterous prodigies of the Protestant Reformation, but conceptually the character came from a different discourse. When he was writing The Tempest, Shakespeare was reading John Florio's translation of Michel de Montaigne's Essayes (1571-92): the play famously quotes from the essay "On the Caniballes," which is the single most important source for The Tempest insofar as scholars know of no source for the main action. (38) But Shakespeare borrowed more than Montaigne's words: Shakespeare dramatized Montaigne's philosophy. In this philosophy, as Jean Starobinski has described it, Montaigne brought the noisome body to philosophical import: we humans can know nothing for certain, he thought, except how it feels to inhabit a body that does not behave as it ought to. (39) For Montaigne, embodiment was the sole universal experience of humankind, yet we overlook our common creatural existence and demonize each other as soon as we catch sight of the slightest cultural difference. In his Essayes, Montaigne warily permitted the possibility of demons and prodigies, but more importantly he scrutinized the civilized individuals and cultures who turn others who are unknown or offensive into devils and monsters. In other words, Montaigne explicitly stated the skeptical attitude toward stigma which Shakespeare dramatized in The Tempest and which Goffman later developed into a full-fledged sociological theory.
Prospero's relationship with Caliban therefore demonstrates the thesis of Montaigne's essay "On the Cannibals": convinced of their own splendor, civil societies overlook their similarities with savages to demonize difference and deviance. Montaigne's essay attended to the nuances of "barbarisme," contrasting a definition "in regard of reasons rules" with one "in respect of vs" (104). Maybe the word "barbarisme" describes the Cannibals when "reasons rules" define it, Montaigne said, but against reason he chose judgment every time. His motto was distinguo, "I distinguish," so Montaigne thought that "barbarisme" could not be a pejorative term "in respect of vs": "There is nothing in that nation, that is either barbarous or savage, vnlesse men call that barbarisme which is not common to them. As indeed, we have no other ayme of truth and reason, then the example and Idea of the opinions and customes of the countrie we live in" (101-2). Since we apprehend the world perspectivally, Montaigne turned "barbarisme" from a rational concept into a relative term, from a fixed denigration of uncultured people into a mere negation of the moral norms of one's own nation. Sticking to his motto, distinguo, Montaigne's essay "Of Experience" insists upon a distinction between what is "vnknowne and strange" and what is "savage, barbarous and wondrous" (609). No, Montaigne did not see the Cannibals as noble savages. Rather, he saw in Europe a savage nobility, one in which "treason, treacherie, disloialty, tyrannie, crueltie, and such like... are our ordinarie faults" (104). These sins of civilization offended Montaigne much more than the pantslessness of the Cannibals. From his perspective, to condemn the customs of the Cannibals was to display a myopic European narcissism mistaking foreign for faulty, unfamiliar for inferior, strange for savage. It was this skeptical view of the very idea of savagery that Shakespeare had in mind when writing Cymbeline a short time before The Tempest: "Our courtiers say all's savage but at court. / Experience, O, thou disprovest report!" (4.2.33-34). (40)
Consider how Prospero, as he demoinizes Caliban, also obliterates the resolve of his slave by torturing him with a daily show of physical force. All stick and no carrot, Prospero views Caliban as one "whom stripes may move, not kindness!" (1.2.345). In two of his essays, "Of the Cannibals" (104) and "Of Crueltie" (238), Montaigne observed that, while it is barbarous for Cannibals to eat other humans, it is even more barbarous for Europeans to devise increasingly sadistic means to keep a man alive while torturing him. Arguably one such European, Prospero turns the island in The Tempest into a torture chamber for Caliban: "I'll rack thee with old cramps, / Fill all thy bones with aches, make thee roar / That beasts shall tremble at thy din" (1.2.369-71). The European cruelty critiqued by Montaigne is thus performed by Prospero as he perversely relishes the multifarious pain he has planned for Caliban (I imagine Prospero on the verge of masturbation as he says these lines):
To-night thou shalt have cramps, Side-stitches that shall pen thy breath up; urchins Shall, for that vast of night that they may work, All exercise on thee; thou shalt be pinch'd As thick as honeycomb, each pinch more stinging Than bees that made 'em. (1.2.325-30)
In addition to urchins that pinch and bees that sting, Prospero's spirits injure Caliban in the form of apes that bite, hedgehogs that prick, and snakes that hiss (2.2.9-14).
I detail Prospero's slanders and assaults here because they shape Caliban's own curses, making master and slave similar except in their ability to enact their enmity. Just as Prospero conjures urchins, bees, apes, hedgehogs, and snakes to attack Caliban, Caliban curses Prospero with enchanted animals: "All the charms / Of Sycorax, toads, beetles, bats, light on you!" (1.2.339-40). Just as Prospero animates the island itself to subdue Caliban, Caliban curses Prospero with diseases dealt by the earth, usually the "wicked dew" from infectious swamps (1.2.321-23 and 2.2.1-3). Prospero may complain of "Caliban my slave, who never / Yields us kind answer" (1.2.308-9), but Caliban's unkind answers actually reflect Prospero's own adage toward the islander, "whom stripes may move, not kindness." Shakespeare even had Caliban cite Prospero's instruction and example as the source of his own invective: "You taught me language, and my profit on't / Is, I know how to curse" (1.2.363-64).
As Caliban recalls his education, Prospero would "teach [him] how / To name the bigger light, and how the less, / That burn by day and night" (1.2.334-36), which some commentators have connected with the creation story in the Biblical book of Genesis. (41) That is, Caliban can be a version of Adam, whose name in Hebrew indicates both "ground" and "man." Caliban can be a version of that very first human being who was formed from the ground and who achieves allegorical significance for the entire human race. Thus, in an impressive moment of dramatic ingenuity, Shakespeare managed to make Caliban's dirty and deformed body a sign of the other from one angle and of the self from another. To the Italians in the play, Caliban's deformity represents his villainy and his inferiority, a stigma assumed to operate on the order of nature; to us in the audience, however, that deformity can signify the creaturely embodiment that arrests us all from a Montaignian perspective. Bodying forth the core of human being, something primal and universal, Caliban is earthy and bestial because all human bodies are animal bodies, maybe refined with mental and social sophistication, but still driven and restricted by an animality that can be embarrassing or even appalling to the ethics of civilized societies which try to hide human nature with culture. For someone like Montaigne, culture promoted an artificial picture of human being, each society its own image of normal society, disparaging difference as deviance, because the human mind constantly misconstrues alterity, which Shakespeare illustrated in The Tempest by having the Italians repeatedly call Caliban "devil" or "monster" even though his behavior closely mirrors their own.
"Monsieur Monster": Stigma, Satire, and the Savage Civilization
After Prospero's demonization of Caliban, The Tempest most clearly dramatizes Montaigne's philosophy in Stephano and Trinculo's encounter with the islander: all three act with equal vice, but the "civilized" Europeans mistakenly see the "savage" Caliban as biologically inferior, sloppily drawing from the discourse of monstrosity to apprehend the unfamiliar man. As Jeffrey Kahan has suggested, an image of the prodigious Sea-Bishop in Ambriose Pare's On Monsters and Prodigies may have helped Shakespeare write Trinculo's vignette of Caliban: "What have we here? a man or a fish? dead or alive? A fish, he smells like a fish; a very ancient and fish-like smell; a kind of not-of-the-newest poor-John. A strange fish!" (2.2.24-27). (42) If Trinculo may see Caliban as the Sea-Bishop, his mate Stephano mentions another prodigy, the Monk-Calf, or "moon-calf," as they call Caliban five times in The Tempest (2.2.106, 111, and 135; 3.2.21 and 22). In the sixteenth century, Protestants concocted prodigies like the Sea-Bishop and the Monk-Calf to demean their Catholic opponents, as in this account of the Monk-Calf from Martin Luther: "In this Monster, ther is more then a sufficient warning, for to make vs to vnderstand god is offended & angry with those Moonkish obseruations. For if he loued them, it is most certeine he would haue cloathed it with a frock of a more honester figure." (43) Demonstrating the collapse of moral and physical judgments in magical thinking, Luther asked of the Monk-Calf, "Can any man finde an Apostle more fit for the braine of an Asse, then the head of a Calfe?" (15). The 1579 English translation of Luther's letter came coupled with Philip Melancthon's divinations on the Pope-Ass, and both prodigies were, as the title of the translation said, "the very foreshewings and tokens of Gods wrath, against blinde, obstinate, and monstrous Papistes." (44) Leaving aside the question of whether Luther and Melancthon actually believed these prodigious births to be real, we can say with confidence that they exploited the discourse of prodigies to communicate their theological polemic to Europe and to stigmatize their enemies as deformed monsters. In the context of the Sea-Bishop, the Monk-Calf, the Pope-Ass, or any other prodigious birth in Renaissance Europe, Caliban's deformed body was a site of supernatural meaning, open to divination, but Shakespeare quickly dispelled that magic.
In The Tempest, the hucksterism of Trinculo and Stephano pits the solemn theological interpretation of prodigies against a shrewd secular commercialization that Shakespeare located specifically in England, as Mark Burnett has discussed. (45) Taking aim at the disreputable merchant and the daft consumer alike, Shakespeare satirized London's abject fascination with physical difference, which overlooks the overwhelming similarities between familiar and foreign bodies. After mistaking Caliban for "a strange fish," Trinculo continues, "Were I in England now (as I once was) and had but this fish painted, not a holiday fool there but would give a piece of silver" (2.2.24-30). Like Renaissance physiognomists and Protestant prognosticators, savvy English merchants inventoried the anomalies of physical form to assign them value, not ethical or theological value, but financial value. Physical deformity was a business in Shakespeare's England, and business was good: "There would this monster make a man," says Trinculo, "Any strange beast there makes a man" (2.2.30-31). Here, in one of the sharpest moments of The Tempest, Shakespeare played with the meanings of the word make for a twofold satire. First, a monster makes a man in England because the calculating businessman easily attains commercial success shilling prodigies in a profligate market. Second, a monster makes a man because, from Shakespeare's perspective, there was no difference between monsters and Englishmen: what men call monstrous was routine English behavior. As the Englishman Barnabe Rich put it in 1606, "There is nothing more formall in these dayes then Deformitie it selfe." (46)
For example, as Trinculo continues, "When they will not give a doit to relieve a lame beggar, they will lay out ten to see a dead Indian" (2.2.31-33). The English would refuse charity to help a citizen suffering the disadvantages of disability while eagerly throwing away money to see a dead Indian whose physical difference from an Englishman was actually rather modest. After their racial difference was observed, both the Englishman and the Indian were human, as Caliban is in Trinculo's epiphany: "Legg'd like a man; and his fins like arms! Warm, o' my troth! I do now let loose my opinion, hold it no longer: this is no fish, but an islander, that hath lately suffer'd by a thunderbolt" (2.2.33-36). Note the cognitive trajectory of Trinculo's vignette: Caliban starts as something unknown, unfamiliar, and entirely other; then he transforms into half-man and half-fish; finally he becomes fully human. Concluding this transformation of the other into the self, and emphasizing the unity of the foreign and the familiar, Shakespeare conjoined the "man" Trinculo with the "monster" Caliban by folding the Italian into the islander's gabardine to escape the approaching storm. (47) Trinculo and Caliban tucked in together under the gabardine is perhaps the greatest emblem of Goffman's argument that "the stigmatized and the normal are part of each other" (135). Goffman explained that almost everyone has some aspect of his or her identity or history that could be stigmatized, and so "the normal and the stigmatized are not persons but rather perspectives" (138). This is what Montaigne argued in his essay "On the Caniballes," and this is what Shakespeare dramatized by patterning Propsero, Trinculo, and Stephano on top of Caliban.
Stephano stumbles upon Trinculo and Caliban under the gabardine and mistakes the two men for "some monster of the isle with four legs" (2.2.65). Like his enterprising countryman Trinculo--but very much unlike the fervent churchmen Luther and Melancthon--Stephano thinks about the money rather than the meaning to be made of the monster: "If I can recover him, and keep him tame, and get to Naples with him, he's a present for any emperor that ever trod on neat's-leather" (2.2.68-70). Stephano sees the monster as an opportunity to ingratiate himself in the Italian nobility, a point Shakespeare has him repeat in order to emphasize the commodification of Caliban: "If I can recover him, and keep him tame, I will not take too much for him; he shall pay for him that hath him, and that soundly" (2.2.76-78). Coming upon a prodigy, Luther and Melancthon made themselves prophets of God's will, but Trinculo and Stephano seek a different kind of profit, hoping to make money off the man they mistake for a monster. (48)
This attempt to monetize physical abnormalities points both backward to the human curiosities kept in Renaissance courts--as in Diego Velazquez's 1656 masterpiece Las Meninas--and forward to the modern freak shows in which people and creatures with physical abnormalities are paraded out on a stage for the abject fascination (simultaneous horror and delight) of the normals in the audience. (49) As the most obvious referent of royal power in the play, Prospero is implicated in Stephano's comments: like the Renaissance prince who brought physical abnormality into his court, partly in an effort to affirm his own normalcy and magnificence, Prospero needs Caliban at his side to maintain his own identity as a virtuous and noble duke. At the same time, we in Shakespeare's audience are also implicated in Stephano's comments insofar as--like the modern freak show--we are observing the exceptionally enigmatic Caliban on stage from the safety of our position in the audience. It is quite possible that we, like Prospero, use Caliban to affirm our sense of ourselves as normal. Maybe we love Caliban as a character so much because, tightly confined within the play as he is, he allows us to observe what is most strange about our world without the danger of it touching us directly.
As Trinculo and Stephano soon learn, however, Caliban is not much of a monster at all: what seemed strange and wonderful is revealed to be common and ordinary. To punctuate this point, Shakespeare emphasized Caliban's alterity as Stephano and Trinculo indefatigably repeat the word "monster" in acts II and III (17 instances in II.ii., 18 in III.ii.), yet the adjectives attached to "monster" counteract this alienation, revealing the notionally foreign as altogether familiar. For example, when he mistakes Stephano for the man in the moon, the superstitious Caliban is "a most poor credulous monster" (2.2.146-47); when he drinks Stephano's wine, the inebriated Caliban is "an abominable monster" (2.2.158-59); when he prostrates himself to Stephano, the abject Caliban is "a most scurvy monster" (2.2.155). Superstition, drunkenness, and treason: these are the three iniquities the Italian fops attribute to their "monster," though they are three undeniably human activities, nothing extraordinary about them, and they appear equally in the savage islander and the civilized Italians alike. Caliban is superstitious, but so are Trinculo, Stephano, Gonzalo, Miranda, and Ferdinand. Caliban is treasonous, but so are Trinculo, Stephano, Antonio, and Sebastian. Caliban gets drunk, but so do Trinculo and Stephano. By writing the vices of his savage into his civilized characters as well, Shakespeare fashioned The Tempest into a satire of a savagely civilized Europe. As Caliban graduates from "monster" to "man-monster" (3.2.12), Stephano and Trinculo degenerate into what we could call "monster-men." And Shakespeare's satire of this phenomenon climaxed in Stephano's very best epithet for Caliban, "Monsieur Monster" (3.2.18), the identical sounds that begin ("Mons...") and end ("... e[u]r") these words indicating the strong similarity between the civilized ("Monsieur") and the savage ("Monster"), only slightly separated by a single letter ("i/t") to acknowledge the cultural and individual differences of human beings.
In sum, whether we think of Prospero and Miranda or of Stephano and Trinculo, Shakespeare's Italians repeatedly stigmatize Caliban as exotic, strange, monstrous, and demonic; but his behavior is actually what Montaigne would call "civilized." In magical thinking, a demonic or monstrous body signifies some demonic or monstrous behavior, yet Caliban's immoralities are the daily villainy of Milan, or indeed of Jacobean London. Caliban's actions are only as monstrous as those Shakespeare saw around him in England, recasting that notionally sophisticated nation as a savage society. As Montaigne asked in his Essayes, "If we terme those things monsters or miracles to which our reason cannot attaine, how many such doe daily present themselves vnto our sight?" (87-88).
The Politics of Renunciation: Monarchy, Magic, and Stigma
Of the five vices Shakespeare assigned to Caliban--rape, cursing, drunkenness, superstition, and treason--the last is the most important for the main plot of The Tempest, for the savage islander is the political equal of the civilized Europeans, not just Trinculo and Stephano but also Prospero and Antonio. Between Prospero and Antonio, Shakespeare offered tyranny and treason as the two greatest obstacles to the kind of divine right monarchy King James had asserted in England as recently as March 21, 1609. (50) The Tempest only obliquely alludes to Prospero as a divine right ruler--he thinks he was "blessedly holp hither" (1.2.63) to the island "by divine providence" (1.2.159) after being deposed and deserted at sea--but Prospero clearly shows the symptoms of divine right monarchy: he is a magician and a patriarch. As James Frazer argued, the monarch is a magician insofar as he claims to understand, represent, and manipulate the invisible agency that organizes and operates the world, as Prospero does when he orders the tempest that opens the play. (51) That claim to have access to the realm of spirit is also what underwrites Prospero's account of Caliban as an evil being whose essence is brassed out in his appearance, as I have sought to illustrate. Insofar as stigma is magic, therefore, it is closely bound up with the divine right monarchy that Prospero represents. If this is so, then Prospero's abjuration of magic in act V may also be a renunciation of both monarchy and stigma.
In The Tempest, a fissure in both monarchy and stigma first surfaces during Prospero's masque, performed by Ariel to celebrate Ferdinand and Miranda's betrothal, but interrupted by Caliban. In England, the masque was King James's favorite way to celebrate and simultaneously cultivate the golden age mythology of monarchy. (52) Its logic appears perfectly in Prospero's dramatis personae: divinity (impersonated by Juno) blesses royalty (Ferdinand and Miranda) with felicity and fertility (Ceres). Just as summertime beams images of ease and abundance into the golden age tradition, the anointed monarchy brings prosperity to its nation, with a promise of everlasting joy in the family dynasty perpetuated by marriage. Prospero's masque animates this tranquility with dancing nymphs, yet their partners--the reapers responsible for containing the abundant growth of a fiercely fertile world--are eerily out of place in the golden age image of monarchy. I would like to suggest that it is no accident that these harbingers of death appear at precisely the moment copulation (as the corollary to fertility, abundance, and dynasty) enters into the monarchical masquer's mind: "Prospero starts suddenly, and speaks; after which, to a strange, hollow, and confused noise, they heavily vanish" (4.1.138sd). What does Prospero say when he "speaks" in this moment of shock? He starts talking about "the beast Caliban" (4.1.140). Could it be that Caliban's animalistic attempt to mate with Miranda left such a traumatic imprint on Prospero's mind that the creaturely Caliban creeps into Prospero's pastoral paradise as soon as the monarchical masquer thinks of his daughter having sex with Ferdinand? Even the squeaky-clean propagation of a golden age dynasty requires the kind of creaturely intercourse Caliban sought from Miranda, with all its fluids. In this reading, there is no escaping the bestial body humans bear, which always embarrasses our attempts to valorize humanity with inflated ideologies like the golden age myth of divine right monarchy. Or, as Montaigne might say to Prospero (the royal) and Gonzalo (the royalist), "Both Kings and Philosophers obey nature, and goe to the stoole," and also to Miranda: "And so doe Ladies" (611).
Arguably, this notion that human beings are animalistic, are emphatically unmagical creatures like Caliban, is the very realization that allows Prospero to turn The Tempest from revenge tragedy into romance in act V. Shakespeare marked that moment with a quote from Montaigne's essay "Of Crueltie": "The rarer action is," Prospero says, "in virtue than in vengeance" (5.1.27-28). (53) What does Prospero do to change the genre of the play? He opens himself up to education, specifically to the education that teaches a royal sovereign to live as a human, not as God's lieutenant on Earth. Despite the royalist rhetoric of the king's two bodies, he has only one, the same as the rest of us, the same as Caliban. As Prospero realizes, he does not need magic to be a better ruler than Antonio, which is the insight that allows Shakespeare to bring Prospero back into political power in Milan. Thus, Prospero's education culminates in an abjuration of magic, which--given the cluster of ideas associated with magic--amounts to a renunciation of divine right monarchy and also a renunciation of stigma. For, just as Shakespeare linked magic with stigma in act I of The Tempest, Prospero's abjuration of magic in act V heralds an "acknowledgment" of Caliban.
"This thing of darkness I / Acknowledge mine," Prospero concludes, pointing to Caliban and all his creatureliness (5.1.275-76). Postcolonial critics often point to this line as evidence of Prospero's conquistadorial oppression, but there is something deeper here in the word "darkness," something more poignant in the possessive "mine." Caliban belongs to Prospero in the sense that the animalistic, demonic, monstrous, and savage nature Prospero and others have attributed to Caliban, "this thing of darkness," also belongs to Prospero, as evident in his vengeful actions throughout the play. Provocatively, to own the deformed Caliban is to own up to what we could think of as the congenital abnormality all humans exhibit when set beside the beautified images of ourselves that we construct. Or, as Montaigne put it, "I have seene no such monster, or more expresse wonder in this world, then my selfe.... The more I frequent and know my selfe, the more my deformity astonieth me" (580).
Prospero's acknowledgment of Caliban also points toward what Goffman identified as "the central feature of the stigmatized individual's situation in life": "It is a question of what is often, if vaguely, called 'acceptance'" (8). At the end of The Tempest, Prospero acknowledges himself in the other and the other in himself, and yet--and yet!--some of Prospero's most vicious statements stigmatizing Caliban come in the closing moments of the play, during and after that acknowledgement. It is here that Prospero calls Caliban a "mis-shapen knave" (5.1.268) and a "demi-devil / (For he's a bastard one)" (5.1.272-73), and says, "He is as disproportion'd in his manners, / As in his shape" (5.1.290-91). Shakespearean romance always involves the education of the protagonist, as represented in Prospero's abjuration of magic, but Prospero is not fully able to renounce stigma, the social manifestation of magical thinking. Just as several characters in The Tempest remain charmed under Prospero's spell even after he abjures his magic, stigma continues to circulate in society even after it has been disavowed. In Shakespeare's play and in society, stigma is something that, once established, can never be fully expunged. Once an identity has been discredited, interactions between the stigmatized and those that Goffman calls the "normals" will always be, to some degree, loaded and tense, even after attempts have been made to repair the relationship. Thus, in the modern United States, we have policies such as Affirmative Action and the Americans with Disabilities Act which acknowledge and combat the damages done by stigma, but which are also beset with uneasy identity politics. As I see it, the notion of a Shakespearean "problem play"--in which the apparent resolution of conflict actually covers over lingering questions and uncertainties--is a literary version of Goffman's theory that stigma is and will always be fundamentally uneasy for all involved, even when (or especially when) attempts at reparation are made. From this perspective, the uneasiness that is a constitutive feature of stigma, which Shakespeare transferred from a social situation into a literary document when he staged stigma as drama in The Tempest, is then transferred again from the text to us in the audience, who are left uneasy at the end of the play because we do not know quite what to think when we hear Prospero accepting Caliban in one breath but further stigmatizing him in the next.
Just Deformed: Dramaturgical and Historical Reflections
We are now at a point where we can step back to survey the story of stigma in The Tempest. First, Shakespeare associated stigma with magic. Then, he associated stigma with trauma. Next, he showed the effects of stigma on the stigmatized, especially the way that stigma can create the criminals it claims to describe. Shakespeare suggested, moreover, that the "normals" and the "stigmatized" can actually be quite similar. For this reason, stigma should be disavowed but--and this is crucial--Shakespeare also illustrated how stigma is intractable enough to out-maneuver well-intentioned attempts to squash it.
I would like to conclude by returning to the question with which we began: What does Caliban look like? If not demon, monster, humanoid, or racial other, then what should the actor playing Caliban look like upon his entrance to The Tempest? There is, I believe, one performance especially well suited to the controlled complexity in Shakespeare's characterization of Caliban, both what he is and what he is said to be. To capture Shakespeare's satire of European culture, first of all, Caliban should be biologically similar to the Italians. He should be fully human, perhaps with a fair complexion, which is not unheard of in productions of The Tempest, yet Caliban must also show some sign of difference for the Italians to exaggerate. That is, his appearance must be abnormal enough to inaugurate the Italians' misinterpretations, but normal enough to indicate that Prospero's "devil" and Trinculo and Stephano's "monster" are clearly the embellishments of magical thinking. It is a human being, neither demonic nor monstrous, yet physically deformed, that looks at once very similar to and clearly different from the "normal" Italians. With Montaigne in mind, I would make Caliban's body dirty, defective, dysfunctional, and deformed to signify the creaturely coil that curtails the inflated ambitions of human being. Deformity is the usual body nature yields to expose the normal body culture constructs. At the same time, it is the confusion evident in the cultural invention of stigma that explains how the Italians mistake a deformed human for a devil or a monster.
On stage, screen, and canvas, however, Caliban has rarely been just physically deformed. William Hogarth came close in his painting of A Scene from 'The Tempest', where we see a dwarfish Caliban with a shoulder misalignment and craniofacial defects, but Hogarth reverted to the imagery of monstrosity for scales and webbed feet. (54) Swapping scales for hair--fish for ape--Alfred Kubin also envisioned a stunted Caliban on the brink of humanity, emotion clearly evident in his face, yet his low brow and big nose suggest too much of a caricature to classify this Caliban as human. (55) In 1988, the Royal Shakespeare Company had John Kane play Caliban with only a splotchy skin disease, but this kind of Caliban--fully human yet physically deformed--is exceptionally rare, as if there were no middle space between "normal" and "monstrous." That is, there is no space for the usual--where the character (not to mention the rest of us) could live.
When I say that Caliban should be just physically deformed, I do not mean to suggest that deformity is no big deal, that it is only a slight inconvenience for the person who bears it, for of course the opposite is often true. Deformity can be a defining feature of someone's body, and disability can be a major aspect of someone's identity, yet Caliban nowhere suffers the hardships of disability. With respect to his body, all of Caliban's hardships come from constantly fielding the slanders and assaults that treat him as if he were some hideously inhuman beast. This is why I have insisted that Caliban experiences stigma much more than he experiences disability. What The Tempest and its reception suggest is that people with physical deformities can never be just people with physical deformities. They are born into a world in which their bodies are already saturated with meaning and social conventions such that their identities, both real and perceived, cannot emerge independently and unconditioned.
The reason Caliban has rarely been just physically deformed can be clarified by considering Shakespeare's character among some trends in the intellectual history of stigma in the modern Western world. As I have argued in this essay, the treatment of Caliban in The Tempest (1610) was Shakespeare's satire of the tradition of stigma present in sixteenth-century pseudoscientific manuals such as Thomas Hill's The Whole Art of Physiognomie (1556) and Ambrose Pare's Of Monsters and Prodigies (1573). Shakespeare dramatized the response to this tradition that was explicitly stated in Montaigne's Essayes (1588), an argument with two thrusts, one negative and one positive. On the one hand, Montaigne rejected earlier attitudes toward stigma when he dismantled the simile that sees deformity as an expression of villainy, for this simile is not supported by the evidence of experience; on the other hand, he offered a new interpretation when he argued that this simile is a self-righteous rhetorical construction created and sustained by individuals and cultures who forsake the burden of truth for the pleasure availed by the belief in a beautiful universal order that is both dictated by divine decree and comprehensible to human reason.
Many of Montaigne's early-modern readers accepted the negative strand of his argument about stigma without pursuing the positive. For example, the English essayist Francis Bacon wrote "Of Deformity" (1613) against the like will to like simile of stigma, but Bacon's thoughts travelled in a different direction than Montaigne's. (56) In fact, Bacon expressed the very sentiment that Shakespeare had attributed to the deformed Richard III in 3 Henry VI (1590-91) and Richard III (1592-93): deformity is not the sign but the cause of villainy. Bolstered by John Locke's thoughts on deformity's impact on the table rasa of an infant's mind, Bacon's eighteenth-century students (William Hay, for instance) refined his argument that deformity causes villainy, until it was fully formulated at the start of the twentieth century in Sigmund Freud's essay "The 'Exceptions'" (1916), which is based on a reading of Shakespeare's Richard III. (51) In other words, Richard III resonated more than Caliban with the discourse on physical deformity as it developed during the Enlightenment. Perhaps eighteenth- and nineteenth-century writers did not think of Caliban as a physically deformed human being because Shakespeare's treatment of Caliban's deformity did not operate according to the terms of their most pressing question: Is deformity the sign or the cause of villainy? Having already dealt with deformity in those terms in Richard III, Shakespeare structured his later treatment of deformity in The Tempest according to a different problematic, not the problem of deformity but the problem of stigma.
Those who embrace both the negative and the positive aspects of Montaigne's argument about stigma are most likely to see Caliban as a physically deformed human being. That is, it makes sense to think about a deformed Caliban when one sees abnormality as a category constructed by culture, not given by nature, although this attitude has been rare until relatively recently. To be sure, it surfaced in Hume's caution not to confuse your aesthetic taste for the essential character of an object; in Kant's point that physiognomy works, not as a metaphysical law, but as a cultural aesthetic that creates a distaste for deformity; and in Hegel's argument that humans (deformed or otherwise) have no essential inner character independent of their actions for physiognomists to read. (58) Montaigne's thoughts on physical deformity, however, are most comparable to twentieth-century works of structuralist sociology like Goffman's Stigma (1963) and Leslie Fiedler's "The Tyranny of the Normal" (1983). (59) Like Montaigne, Goffman and Fiedler argued that cultured humans use categorical social identities like normal and abnormal to simplify complex attitudes about deformity and other kinds of difference, but these categories do not hold because no body is perfectly normal. What is normal is not what is usual. The normal body is unusual: the body as it ought to be is not the body as it most often is.
It is the sociology of Goffman and Feidler that underwrites the interdisciplinary academic field now known as disability studies, which was inaugurated by Henri-Jacques Stiker's History of Disability (1983) and developed in the United States in the hands of scholars such as Lennard Davis, Rosemarie Garland-Thompson, Simi Linton, David Mitchell, and Sharon Snyder. (60) In response to the medical model that tries to fix or cure all manner of physical deformity, critics in disability studies treat "deformed" and "disabled" as contested terms that condition social interaction, often negatively, and need to be rethought. If Shakespeare's Richard III was the locus classicus for eighteenth- and nineteenth-century writers interrogating the relationship between deformity and villainy, Caliban can play a similar role for twenty-first-century critics approaching stigma as an epistemological problem. Because Montaigne's skeptical philosophy so powerfully inspired both Shakespeare's characterization of Caliban and our development of disability studies, The Tempest now more than ever stands as a valuable resource, not only for academics to essay the aesthetics of the abnormal body, but also for dramatists to express the ethics of this academic discourse to a wider audience. Were someone to stage The Tempest so that Caliban was just physically deformed, perhaps expressing bewilderment, frustration, and anger when called "demon" and "monster," it would allow academics interested in the cultural valuations of nature's plenty to use the platform of Shakespeare's art to communicate the problematics of stigma to a public audience that often continues to look upon human bodies as if life were a Disney movie.
The author would like to thank Victoria Silver and Julia Reinhard Lupton for comments and conversations about the ideas presented in this essay.
(1.) William Shakespeare, The Tempest, in The Riverside Shakespeare, second edition, ed. G. Blakemore Evans and J. J. M. Tobin (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997). All references to Shakespeare's plays are to this edition and will be noted parenthetically in the text.
(2.) The old historical view of Caliban as an Aristotlean "natural slave" (epitomized in Frank Kermode's influential introduction to the Arden edition of The Tempest [London: Methuen, 1954], lxii]) was replaced in the last quarter of the twentieth century by the new historicist view memorably presented in Stephen Greenblatt's "Learning to Curse: Aspects of Linguistic Colonialism in the Sixteenth Century," in vol. 2 of First Images of America: The Impact of the New World on the Old, ed. Fredi Chiappelli (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976): 561-80. Greenblatt and the new historicists of the 1970s and 1980s were preceeded in their postcolonial reading of Caliban by a number of non-white non-Europeans in the 1950s and 1960s, as discussed (along with a helpful overview of the postcolonial reading) in Jonathan Bate's "Caliban and Ariel Write Back," Shakespeare Survey: An Annual Survey of Shakespeare Studies and Production 48 (1995): 155-62.
(3.) A note in The Tempest, in vol. 3 of The Plays of William Shakespeare, ed. Samuel Johnson and George Steevens (London: T. Longman, 1793), reads: "It is not easy to determine the shape which our author designed to bestow on his monster. That he has hands, legs, &c. we gather from the remarks of Trinculo, and other circumstances in the play. How then is he plainly a fish? Perhaps Shakespeare himself had no settled ideas concerning the form of Caliban" (158). The landmark study of Alden T. Vaughan and Virginia Mason Vaughan, Shakespeare's Caliban: A Cultural History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), perceptively connected the ambiguities of Shakespeare's text with the diversity of its reception (15). Likewise Paul Franssen, "A Muddy Mirror," in Constellation Caliban: Figurations of a Character, ed. Nadia Lie and Theo D'Haen (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1997) saw Caliban as "the most elusive of Shakespeare's characters" whose "indeterminacy is not limited to professional critics and theatre makers: to the other characters within the play, Caliban is somewhat of a puzzle, too" (27-28). Julia Reinhard Lupton, "Creature Caliban," Shakespeare Quarterly 51, no. 1 (2000), also felt that "the uncertainty throughout the play as to Caliban's shape" reflects an "inchoate muddiness at the heart of Caliban's oddly faceless and featureless being" (8). Mark Thornton Burnett, "'Were I in England now': Localizing 'Monsters' in The Tempest," in Constructing 'Monsters' in Shakespearean Drama and Early Modern Culture (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002) affirmed this ambiguity as he pointedly extended it to an insurmountable gap between text and performance (134).
(4.) See John Dryden, The Grounds of Criticism in Tragedy, in Troilus and Cressida (London: Able Swall and Jacob Tonson, 1679), a5; Joseph Warton, The Adventurer 97 (Oct. 9, 1753), 142.
(5.) See August Wilhelm Schlegel, "Lecture XXI," in A Course of Lectures on Dramatic Art and Literature (1815), trans. John Black, rev. A. J. W. Morrison (London: Henry G. Bonn, 1846), 395; Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "Lecture IX," in Lectures and Notes on Shakspere and Other English Poets (1811-12), ed. Thomas Ashe (London: G. Bell and sons, 1883), 142; William Hazlitt, "The Tempest," in vol. 1 of Leigh Hunt's London Journal (London: Charles Knight, 1834), 43; and Franssen, "A Muddy Mirror."
(6.) See John W. Draper, "Monster Caliban," Revue de Litterature Comparee 40 (1966): 605; Barry Gaines and Michael Lofaro, "What Did Caliban Look Like?" Mississippi Folklore Register 10 (1976): 175-86; and Michael Baird Saenger, "The Costumes of Caliban and Ariel Qua Sea-Nymph," Notes and Queries 42, no. 3 (1995): 334-36.
(7.) See Daniel Wilson, "Caliban the Monster," in Caliban: The Missing Link (London: Macmillan and Co., 1873), 78; John E. Hankins, "Caliban the Bestial Man," Publications of the Modern Language Association of America 62, no. 3 (1947): 793-801; Corona Sharp, "Caliban: The Primitive Man's Evolution," Shakespeare Studies 14 (1981): 267-83; and Erika Rundle, "Caliban's Legacy: Primate Dramas and the Performance of Species," TDR: The Drama Review: A Journal of Performance Studies 51, no. 1 (2007): 49-62.
(8.) See Sidney Lee, "The American Indian in Elizabethan England," in "The Call of the West: America and Elizabethan England," Scribner's Magazine 42 (1907): 313-30; Leo Marx, "Shakespeare's American Fable," The Massachusetts Review 2 (1960): 40-71; Leslie A. Fiedler, The Stranger in Shakespeare (New York: Stein and Day, 1972), 230; and Ronald Takaki, "The Tempest in the Wilderness: The Racialization of Savagery," The Journal of American History 79, no. 3 (Dec. 1992): 892-912.
(9.) On the adaptability of Caliban's otherness, see Daniel Jaczminski, "Liberating the Strange Fish: Visual Representations of Caliban and Their Successive Emancipation from Shakespeare's Original Text," in Word & Image in Colonial and Postcolonial Literatures and Cultures, ed. Michael Meyer (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2009): 1-20.
(10.) Caliban is barely mentioned in Disabled Shakespeares, ed. Allison R Hobgood and David Houston Wood, in a special issue of Disability Studies Quarterly 29, no. 4, (2009). He is only mentioned once, in passing, in Wood's "Shakespeare and Disability Studies," Literature Compass 8, no. 5 (May 2011): 280-90. He is mentioned twice, in passing, in Recovering Disability in Early Modern England, ed. Hobgood and Wood (Columbus: The Ohio State University, 2013), 11 and 192nl5. He is mentioned once, parenthetically, in Disability, Health, and Happiness in the Shakespearean Body, ed. Sujata Iyengar (New York: Routledge, 2015), 44. Moreover, it was not Shakespeare's character but the postcolonial reception of the character that was addressed by Susan Antebi, "Caliban and Coney Island: Spanish American Narratives of Corporeal Difference and Performance," Disability Studies Quarterly 25, no. 4 (Fall 2005). For a full review of this discourse, see Jeffrey R. Wilson, "The Trouble With Disability in Shakespeare Studies," Disability Studies Quarterly 37, no. 2 (Spring 2017), http://dsq-sds.org/article/view/5430/4644.
(11.) On the history of this concept, see Tom Shakespeare, "The Social Model of Disability," in the Disability Studies Reader, ed. Lennard J. Davis, 4th ed. (New York: Routledge, 2013): 214-22. The social model of disability has been critiqued and rejected or revised by Tom Shakespeare (no relation to William) and other disability scholars such as Tobin Siebers, Disability Theory (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2008).
(12.) Erving Goffman, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (Garden City, NY: Doubleday Anchor, 1959), 208. It is noteworthy that Goffman's sociological theory of "dramaturgy" was influenced by the "dramatism" of Kenneth Burke, a Shakespearean scholar.
(13.) Erving Goffman, Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1963), 3.
(14.) Ato Quayson, Aesthetic Nervousness: Disability and the Crisis of Representation (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007), 15.
(15.) The category of "the problem plays" comes from Frederick Samuel Boas, Shakespeare and His Predecessors (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1896), who included Troilus and Cressida, All's Well That Ends Well, Measure for Measure, and Hamlet. "All these dramas, introduce us into highly artificial societies, whose civilization is ripe unto rottenness," Boas wrote. "Throughout these plays we move along dim untrodden paths, and at the close our feeling is neither of simple joy nor pain; we are excited, fascinated, perplexed, for the issues raised preclude a completely satisfactory outcome" (345).
(16.) See Bartolommeo della Rocca (called Codes), The Rebirth of Chiromancy and Physiognomy (1504), trans. Thomas Hill as The Whole Art of Phisiognomie (London: John Waylande, 1556); and Ambrose Pare, Of Monsters and Prodigies (1573), in The Workes of that Famous Chirurgion Ambrose Parey (1585), trans. Thomas Johnson (London: Thomas Cotes and Robert Young, 1634).
(17.) Goffman, Stigma, 4.
(18.) See Ulpian Fulwell, Like Wil to Like (London: Edward Allde, 1587); James Frazer, The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion, ed. George Stocking (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1996), 13.
(19.) Stuart Clark, Thinking with Demons: The Idea of Witchcraft in Early Modem Europe (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), 37-38.
(20.) A comparable re-categorization occurs in a famous couplet in the Sonnets when "better" is aligned with "fair" (and, we could add, "right" and "man"), and that alignment is then opposed to "worser" and "ill" (and "colour'd" and "woman"): "My better angel is a man right fair, / My worser spirit a woman colour'd ill" (144.3-4).
(21.) Some twenty years earlier, Shakespeare used the same simile to connect the behavior and the body of his hunchbacked Richard, Duke of Gloucester: "As crooked in thy manners as thy shape!" (2 Henry VI, 5.1.157-58). Then Shakespeare returned to the simile in Titus Andronicus to envision the essence of Aaron the Moor: "His soul black like his face" (3.1.205).
(22.) David Hume, "Of the Connexion of Ideas," in An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, i.e. Philosophical Essays Concerning Human Understanding (London: A. Millar, 1748), 1.26-30.
(23.) Edward Burnett Tylor, Primitive Culture: Researches into the Development of Mythology, Philosophy, Religion, Art, and Custom (London: John Murray, 1871), 1.104-5.
(24.) Frazer, The Golden Bough, 11-12.
(25.) Frazer, The Golden Bough, 12. Note the resiliency of stigma in Frazer's denigration of magic as a "bastard art": what Frazer is saying with this metaphor, without knowing it, is that he is as offended by magic as he is by bastards.
(26.) On Prospero's magic in the context of Renaissance thought, see for example two articles by Barbara Mowat, "Prospero, Agrippa, and Hocus-Pocus," English Literary Renaissance 11 (1981): 281-303, and "Prospero's Book," Shakespeare Quarterly 52 (2001): 1-33.
(27.) Tylor, Primitive Culture, 1.105.
(28.) See Sigmund Freud, Totem and Taboo; Some Points of Agreement Between the Mental Lives of Savages and Neurotics (1930), trans. James Strachey (New York: Norton, 1950), especially chapter 3, "Animism, Magic and the Omnipotence of Thought."
(29.) Just as Prospero derides Caliban's misshapen body, the Italian also uses physical deformity to describe the island life of Caliban's mother, "the foul witch Sycorax, who with age and envy / Was grown into a hoop" (1.2.227-28), as if this hunchback came as much from the moral error of envy as from the physical fact of aging.
(30.) Sycorax's "blue eye[s]" are a problem for editors of The Tempest. My reading of Sycorax follows that of Leah Marcus, "Introduction: The Blue-Eyed Witch," in Unediting the Renaissance: Shakespeare, Marlowe, Milton (New York: Routledge, 1996): "Blue eyes, in our culture at least, are associated with the Anglo American imperialist and with the 'self,' rather than with the colonized peoples and with the 'other.'... We tend not to think of Africans as blue eyed, even though North Africans of 'Argier' and elsewhere sometimes are" (6).
(31.) See Vaughan and Vaughan, Shakespeare's Caliban, 9n16.
(32.) Shakespeare, Tempest, 1.2.282. The circuity of Prospero's syntax in this passage is worth a note. Speaking to Ariel, Prospero says that, after Sycorax died, "this island" was "not honoured with / A human shape... save Caliban" (1.2.281-84). That is, Caliban was the only human on the island, and Caliban is, indeed, a human.
(33.) Lucien Levy-Bruhl, How Natives Think (1910), trans. Lilian A. Clare (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1926), 63.
(34.) Interestingly, Ernest Renan's Caliban: A Philosophical Drama Continuing 'The Tempest' of William Shakespeare (1878), trans. Eleanor Grant Vickery (New York: The Shakespeare Press, 1896) used education to humanize and "undeform" Caliban: "Little by little, thanks to language and reason, thy deformed features have become harmonized, thy webfingers have separated themselves one from the other, and from a poisonous fish thou hast become a man" (18).
(35.) Bronislaw Malinowski, Myth in Primitive Psychology (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1926), 82.
(36.) John Kunat, "'Play me false': Rape, Race, and Conquest in The Tempest," Shakespeare Quarterly 65, no. 3 (2014): 307-27.
(37.) On Prospero's uneasy relationship with Miranda's mother and with women more generally, see Stephen Orgel, "Prospero's Wife," Representations 8 (Fall 1984): 1-13.
(38.) Michel de Montaigne, "On the Caniballes," in Essayes (1571-92), trans. John Florio (London: Val. Sims for Edward Blount, 1603), 103. For the most recent account of Shakespeare's relationship with Montaigne, see Stephen Greenblatt, "Shakespeare's Montaigne," in Shakespeare's Montaigne: The Florio Translation of the Essays, A Selection, ed. Greenblatt and Peter G. Piatt (New York, NY: New York Review Books Classics, 2014), ix-xxxiii.
(39.) See Jean Starobinski, "The Body's Moment," trans. John A. Gallucci, Yale French Studies 64 (1983): 273-305.
(40.) Note also that, in the second half of his career, after he had come into contact with Montagine, Shakespeare repeatedly referred to the "multitude" as monstrous: "The blunt monster with uncounted heads, / The still-discordant wav'ring multitude" (2 Henry IV, Ind.17-18); "There's many a beast then in a populous city, / And many a civil monster" (Othello, 4.1.61-64); "for the multitude to be ingrateful, were to make a monster of the multitude" (Coriolanus, 2.3.10-11). In these lines, what is normal is also what is monstrous.
(41.) See Lupton, "Creature Caliban," 8, building from a note in The Tempest, ed. Stephen Orgel (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 119n.
(42.) See Jeffrey Kahan, "Ambroise Pare's Des Monstres as a Possible Source for Caliban," Early Modern Literary Studies 3, no. 1 (1997): 4.1-11.
(43.) Martin Luther, "The Monster, in the Figure and Lykenesse of a Moonkish Calfe," in Of Two Woonderful Popish Monsters, trans. John Brook (London: Thomas East, 1579), 18.
(44.) Philip Melanchthon, "A Declaration of the Monstrous figure of a Popish Asse," in Of Two Woonderful Popish Monsters. On the Monk-Calf, the Pope-Ass, and other monstrous constructions built for the sake of social reform, see Julie Crawford, "Protestant Reform and the Fashion Monster," in Marvelous Protestantism: Monstrous Births in Post-Reformation England (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005): 27-61.
(45.) See Burnett, "Were I in England now," 125-53.
(46.) Barnabe Rich, Faultes Faults, and Nothing Else but Faultes (London: Valentine Simmes for Jeffrey Chorleton, 1606), 3.
(47.) The adaptation of John Dryden and William D'Avenant, The Tempest, or, The Enchanted Island (London: J.M. for Henry Herringman, 1670), extends this identification by betrothing Trinculo to Caliban's sister (a new character, also called Sycorax). As Dryden's Ariel puts it, "The Monsters Sycorax and Caliban / More monstrous grow by passions learn'd from man" (72).
(48.) Shakespeare echoes this satire in the final scene of The Tempest, when Sebastian, Antonio, and Alonzo meet Trinculo, Stephano, and Caliban. This late in the play, the audience knows no difference between the monstrous and the human, the savage and the civilized. Speaking in the plural ("these," "them"), Sebastian does not distinguish between Trinculo, Stephano, and Caliban: "What things are these, my Lord Antonio? / Will money buy 'em?" (5.1.264-65). Just as Trinculo and Stephano earlier sought to commercialize Caliban, here an upstart Antonio believes "one of them / Is a plain fish, and no doubt marketable" (5.1.265-66). The exchange concludes with Alonzo specifically "pointing to Caliban" as he says, "This is a strange thing as e'er I look'd on" (5.1.290), but in the demonstrative "this" I hear a summation of the whole scene of stigmatization, including both the Italians and the islander, not just a reference to one character.
(49.) Regarding the way that human curiosities such as dwarfs were used to confer prestige upon princely patrons, see Robin O'Bryan, "Grotesque Bodies, Princely Delight: Dwarfs in Italian Renaissance Court Imagery," Preternature: Critical and Historical Studies on the Preternatural 1.2 (2012): 252-88. On the abject fascination with modern freak shows, see Leslie Fiedler, Freaks: Myths and Images of the Secret Self (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978).
(50.) See King James I, "A Speech to the Lords and Commons of the Parliament at Whitehall, on Wednesday the XXI. Or March. Anno 1609," in Workes, ed. James Montagu (London: Robert Baker and John Bill, 1616): 527-48. The scholarly pursuit of magical powers entailed in Prospero's posture of divine right rule amounts to tyranny, placing himself before his people, while Antonio's own assertion of authority on the basis of greater political merit is belied as treason by a poorly planned coup (he merely pivoted from from Prospero's second-in-command to Antonio's). On the island, Shakespeare embodied the eccentricities of tyranny and treason in one character, Caliban, who is both a deposed divine right monarch like Prospero and an inept political revolutionary like Antonio. This double satire of both his hero and his villain suggests that Shakespeare--like many at the start of the seventeenth century--was probably ready to reject divine right monarchy in principle, but he was also anxious about the political life that would follow a disenchanted throne.
(51.) See James Frazer, Lectures on the Early History of the Kingship (London: Macmillan, 1905), 36. On the connections of magic and divine right monarchy in The Tempest, see Patrick Grant, "The Magic of Charity: A Background to Prospero," The Review of English Studies 27, no. 105 (Feb. 1976): 1-16.
(52.) The classic statement on Jacobean masque culture is Stephen Orgel's The Illusion of Power: Political Theater in the English Renaissance (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975), while my own sense of the masque tradition has been influenced by my (too short) time with Richard Kroll, who argued that royalists wrote masques to advise as much as to celebrate the king; see Restoration Drama and 'The Circle of Commerce': Tragicomedy, Politics, and Trade in the Seventeenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 11 and 125.
(53.) See Eleanor Prosser, "Shakespeare, Montaigne, and the Rarer Action," Shakespeare Studies 1 (1961): 261-64.
(54.) On this painting, see David Dabydeen, "Hogarth and the Canecutter," in The Tempest and its Travels, ed. Peter Hulme and William H. Sherman (London: Reaktion Books, 2000): 257-64.
(55.) On Kubin's painting, see Jaczminski, "Liberating the Strange Fish," 9-12.
(56.) Francis Bacon, "Of Deformity," in The Essaies (London: John Jaggard, 1613).
(57.) See John Locke, An Essay Concerning Humane Understanding (London: Elizabeth Holt, 1690), 1.3.17, 2.1.2, and 2.4.13-16; and Sigmund Freud, "Some Character Types Met with in Psychoanalysis: The 'Exceptions' " (1916), in vol. 14 of Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, ed. James Strachey (London: Hogarth Press and The Institute of Psycho-Analysis, 1958), 312.
(58.) See David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature (London: John Noon, 1739-40), 2.19; An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals (London: A. Millar, 1751): 3-5, and The Standard of Taste, in Four Dissertations (London: A. Millar, 1757): 203-40; Immanuel Kant, Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View (1798), trans. Robert B. Louden (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006): 195-203; and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Phenomenology of Mind, trans. J. B. Baillie (New York: Harper & Row, 1967): 181-83.
(59.) Erving Goffman, Stigma; Leslie A. Fiedler, "The Tyranny of the Normal" (1983), in Which Babies Shall Live? Humanistic Dimensions of the Care of Imperiled Newborns (Clifton, NJ: Humana Press, 1985): 151-59.
(60.) See Henri-Jacques Stiker, A History of Disability (1983), trans. William Sayers (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1999); Lennard J. Davis, Enforcing Normalcy: Disability, Deafness, and the Body (London: Verso, 1995); Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997); Simi Linton, Claiming Disability: Knowledge and Identity (New York: New York University Press, 1998); and David Mitchell and Sharon Snyder, Narrative Prosthesis: Disability and the Dependencies of Discourse (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000).
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|Author:||Wilson, Jeffrey R.|
|Publication:||Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England|
|Article Type:||Critical essay|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2018|
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