Speaking through Caliban: The Literary Techniques of Robert Browning....an analysis of the poem Caliban Upon Setebos

Essay by shandi38High School, 10th gradeA+, April 2004

download word file, 4 pages ( 6 KB ) 5.0

In "Caliban Upon Setebos" by Robert Browning, Caliban, an enslaved, gruesome character from William Shakespeare's The Tempest, is given a chance to speak his mind on religion, power, and human nature. In The Tempest Caliban's character comes off as coarse, brutal, and often drunken. Browning's poem shows a lighter, more eloquent and sensitive side of Caliban, thus offering restitution to Caliban, who may not have gotten a fair deal in his first appearance. The poem offers Prospero's beastly slave with a touch of charm and aspiration, making it a pioneering work. Using dramatic monologue, irregular form, and symbolism, Robert Browning addresses religious philosophy, the boundaries between man and beast, and uses and abuses of power.

For the last 200 years, Robert Browning has often been considered a master of dramatic monologue. A dramatic monologue is commonly described as a poem with a speaker who is entirely separate from the author and speaks to a silent audience, whether it is the reader or an internal listener.

The purpose of a dramatic monologue is not so much to make a statement about a certain subject, but rather to develop a character of interest. By using a character as the speaker and distancing himself from the poem, Browning is able to explore controversial ideas about religion and society. In "Caliban Upon Setebos", Browning takes on the persona of Caliban to express his own views. In The Tempest by William Shakespeare, Caliban is a slave, who although harboring some malicious intentions, evokes sympathy from the audience due largely to Prospero's cruel treatment of him. In this poem Caliban pauses in his labors to consider the world around him. He ponders the natural order of the island, while the evolutionary beliefs of Charles Darwin seem to loom in the background. Caliban also...