Caliban Inside and Out

Essay by wruz6College, UndergraduateA+, March 2006

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Question: Compare or contrast the ways in which roberto Fernandez Retamar and George Lamming construct national identity through the figure of Caliban. Use Shakespeare's "The Tempest" if you need to to discuss Caliban.

In order to discuss the ways in which Retamar and Lamming have

constructed a national identity through Caliban it is essential to discuss the

cultural background of these writers. Retamar and Lamming are about as

dissimilar as night and day, and this is evident in both the lives that they

have led, as well as the essays that they have constructed. Their

differences have come from their experiences, and how they have

attempted to establish an identity for themselves and their people. It would

be easy to label them the 'pessimist Retamar,' and the 'optimist Lamming,'

or the Communist Retamar, and the Imperialist Lamming, yet this would

oversimplify a definition that is in no way simple. Rather, I shall use the

terms internal and external.

For both of these men have traveled abroad in

their studies, and in their solidifying of the concept of Caliban, each has

chosen a separate point of view to attempt to identify the same ideal. For

Retamar his focus, as well as his point of view is wholly internal, while for

Lamming he looks on from the outside, the external, and writes of what

comes from Caliban, and how the world sees it.

I shall begin with Retamar. Here is a man who had tried early in his

life to give a face to Caliban. Retamar, a Marxist writer, described

Caliban by first pointing out that his very name is Shakespeare's anagram

for cannibal. He is meant to be an Anthropophagus, a bestial eater of his

own kind. This was quite clearly an illustrious exaggeration on the part of

Shakespeare, and yet...