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In many Anglo-Saxon legends he takes on forms such as troll, ogres, and other subhumans. - if the character was created by Shakespeare, and the name derives from "cannibal" anc "Carib", how could it be in Anglo-Saxon legends? RickK 04:13, 25 Jan 2004 (UTC)

According to my old Arden edn, the basic gist of the cannibal/Carib derivation is correct, but it isn't so cut and dried. There is argument and room for expansion here. The "Anglo-Saxon" bit surely must be spurious. Maybe it could be rewritten to reflect that Caliban is a typal form of the Green Man, but it probably ought to be excluded. A Shakespearean or literary critic would do it best. The Dogandpony 20:12, 17 October 2005 (UTC)


Your first line is incorrect: it states, "He is referred to as a mooncalf, a freckled whelp, "not honored with a human form."" This is a misquotation of the play - if you re-read that passage (Prospero, Act 1 Scene 2) you will see that the ISLAND was not honored with human form - NOT CALIBAN HIMSELF. Prospero is saying the EXACT OPPOSITE here, that Caliban IS the only human form on the Island.


The article suggests that Caliban isn't native, as his heritage is the same as his foreign mother's. While I'm unfamiliar with citizenship in Shakespeare's day, I think it's unreasonable to assume that Caliban isn't a native of the island Prospero finds himself on. Indeed, if the island has ANY native, it's Caliban, who was born there, raised there, and ultimately finds himself there alone again. He's about as native as you get. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 21:39, 11 December 2006 (UTC).

-- (I can't remember my login: I don't intend to be anonymous) Prospero makes much of the fact that Caliban's mother arrived on the island with a son already born. ``Lucy Kemnitzer —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:38, 2 September 2007 (UTC)

It is clearly in Prospero's interest to downplay any claim Caliban may have to the island. Can we be sure he's a reliable source? He himself was not on the island when Sycorax (and possibly Caliban) arrived. Caliban93 (talk) 01:16, 12 April 2009 (UTC)

Regardless of Caliban's place of birth (which is not specified), the island is his home and he obviously has a deep connection to the place. He may not technically be a 'native' depending on the usage of that word but his claim to the island is rather strong. Ultimately, Caliban is more of a 'native' than anyone else, so I slightly changed the opening of the main body of the article to reflect that, as it could have previously been inferred that Prospero was present on the island before Caliban which simply isn't true. Thank you, PamukSoundystem (talk) 21:50, 10 April 2012 (UTC)

Jeanette Winterson[edit]

Doth Jeanette Winterson actually use the neologistic epicene pronoun zirself zirself? If she do, I'd be willing to leave it stand; else I think it should be replaced with standard English. - Smerdis of Tlön 15:33, 26 February 2007 (UTC)

Knives, etc.[edit]

This is not quite what you expect when you click on Caliban (character). Could the author please add essential information for the uninitiated? Again, there are people outside the US reading this! Best wishes, KF 09:10 May 13, 2003 (UTC)

What is THE ANALYTICAL KNIFE? What is this all about? --KF 09:28 May 13, 2003 (UTC)

I'm removing it. While we're at it, is that the correct spelling of "Rousseauean"? it looks a little ... vowelish to me -- Tarquin 10:17 May 13, 2003 (UTC)

removed weirdness below:

Often used by left-leaning Bay Area media people to name ancient hyperlink-journal websites, precursors of today's blogs. A primitive attempt to inculcate themselves as literate, and an important cultural relic of their failed "geek" subculture, circa 1993-2001.

Also the security culture name of several eco-terrorists operating inside the nebulous circles of green anarchy: Cascadia Forest Defenders, the ELF and ALF, Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty. One of them once climbed on top of the Eugene federal court roof and camped there for several days. Federal courts are currently seeking him for questioning in relation to the bombing of three lumber trucks.


Trivia (moved from article) as there isn't a single reference[edit]


The figure of Caliban, or just his name, has been used by many writers, musicians and filmmakers over the years.

In literature[edit]

Robert Browning wrote one of his dramatic monologues from the point of view of Caliban, Caliban upon Setebos, in which he views Caliban as a Rousseauian "natural man." Caliban also gives a lengthy monologue in the style of Henry James in W.H. Auden's long poem The Sea and the Mirror, a meditation on the themes of The Tempest.

Ernest Renan's philosophical drama Caliban represents the struggle between aristocratic and democratic principles, represented by Prospero and Caliban.

The American poet Louis Untermeyer (1885–1977) wrote Caliban in the Coal Mines, published in 1914 in his collection Challenge.

Fantasy author Tad Williams retells the story of Caliban from his point of view in the short novel Caliban's Hour (1993).

Inspired both by The Tempest and Caliban upon Setebos, Caliban is revived as a monstrous inhuman beast in Dan Simmons' literary science fiction duology Ilium/Olympos.

Caliban also is mentioned in the Preface of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, albeit very briefly, as quoted below:

"The nineteenth century dislike of Realism is the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass.
The nineteenth century dislike of Romanticism is the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in a glass."

In John Fowles' novel The Collector, one of the main characters, Miranda, constantly compares her abductor, Frederick Clegg, to Caliban. He reminds her of a monstrous savage, deprived of any human emotion.

In P.G. Wodehouse's novel Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit Percy Gorringe, a poet, is mocking the crude Stilton Cheesewright in a poem called Caliban at Sunset.

In James Joyce's novel, Ulysses, Malachi "Buck" Mulligan compares Stephen Dedalus with Caliban. Also, the analogy becomes a political reference in terms of the Irish desire for "Home Rule" in place of British occupation.

"The rage of Caliban at not seeing his face in a mirror, he said. If Wilde were only alive to see you!" - Ulysses, Chapter One: Telemachus

In Jeanette Winterson's novel Written on the Body, the narrator compares himself/herself (the gender is unspecified) to Caliban, chained to a rock, ostensibly by love.

"Caliban" is also the alias of the protagonist in Michael Pryor's 1996 novel The Mask of Caliban.

Nineteenth-century Russia is referred to as the "Caliban of Europe" in Tom Stoppard's play The Coast of Utopia.

"Caliban" serves as a metaphor for U.S. and British imperialism and Anglo-Saxon backwardness in Rubén Darío's "El Triunfo de Calibán" (1898). The same analogy is utilized by the Uruguayan essayist José Enrique Rodó, whose influential Ariel (1900) posits the Shakespearean spirit against Caliban in an argument for the superiority of the more culturally (if perhaps not materialistically) developed Latin America.

In a Hartford Evening Press editorial in March 1860, Gideon Welles described Abraham Lincoln by saying “He is not Apollo, but he is not "Caliban". He is in every way large, brain included, but his countenance shows intellect, generosity, great good nature and keen discrimination.”

Caliban Leandros is a main character in supernatural series by author Rob Thurman. His mother, Sophia, named him after the character from Shakespeare's The Tempest because he is half-human and she saw him as a monster.

C. L. R. James refers to himself, and by extension all West Indians, as Caliban in the preface to his "Beyond a Boundary." "To establish his own identity, Caliban, after three centuries, must himself pioneer into regions Caesar never knew." Caesar is a metaphor for the British colonialists.

"Caliban" appears as a the beast-man from Shakespeare made flesh in Dan Simmons' 2003 novel Ilium. The creature inhabits (along with a holographic Prospero) a dead city built upon an asteroid circling the earth where he eats the humans sent to the 'firmary' for repair after every twenty years of life on Earth or when they are injured or killed before their 100th birthday to be rebuilt.

"Caliban" or "Isaac Asimov's Caliban" is a science fiction novel by Roger MacBride Allen (1993) [Ace Books] exploring the concepts behind Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics, their deleterious effects on humanity in the Spacer Worlds, and potential solutions through New Law and No Law robots. Caliban itself is a No Law robot, neither human nor robot slave, neither man nor beast, or maybe both.

"I'd rather be Caliban, a most scurvy monster." in Nancy Mairs's 1986 collection of essays Plaintext.

In music[edit]

Grace Slick references Caliban in her song "Fishman" on the album Baron von Tollbooth and the Chrome Nun saying that Fishman is "the son of Caliban / he roams the ocean land."

"Caliban" is referenced by British heavy metal band Cradle of Filth's song "The Byronic Man" off of their 2006 album Thornography.

"Caliban" is also a metalcore band from Germany.

In film[edit]

In the 1961 film Victim, when the main character, Melville Farr, a lawyer, punches a gay character for mentioning Farr's homosexual past, another character comments that "it is the rage of Caliban on seeing his own reflection".

In the Swedish animated film Resan till Melonia, which is very loosely based on The Tempest, Caliban is depicted as a creature made entirely of vegetables.

In the 1956 American science fiction film Forbidden Planet, which is loosely based on The Tempest, "The Caliban" refers to the deadly and powerful so-called "id monster" that was subconsciously unleashed by Dr. Morbius using the ancient Krell machinery.

In the film Doctor Zhivago, Komarovsky self-deprecates himself as a "Caliban" in his attempt to persuade Zhivago to convince Larissa (Lara) to accept Komarovsky's protection from the Red partisans coming to execute her.

In the film Clash of the Titans, there is a character called Calibos, who bears some resemblance to Caliban.

In the 1960 Italian film La Dolce Vita by Frederico Fellini, when the character Steiner plays a recording of nature sounds, a party goer utters the line "sounds, and sweet airs, which give delight and hurt not."


In Jack Kirby's New Gods saga, the sons of Darkseid are Orion and Kalibak, the latter's name being based on that of Caliban.

"Caliban" is the name of the home planet of the Dark Angels Space Marine Chapter in the Warhammer 40,000 universe.

The video game Silent Hill: 0rigins features a monster known as 'Caliban' that is described as someone's 'twisted memory of The Tempest.'

In 1925, W. H. Auden played Caliban in a Gresham's School production of The Tempest.[1]

Caliban is the name of the intelligent squid in The Web Between The Worlds by Charles Sheffield

The comic book series X-Men Has a recurring character named Caliban.

The webcomic Kevin & Kell partially takes place at a private school, named "Caliban Academy".

In the Outer Limits episode 'The Architects of Fear', star Robert Culp's character, Dr. Allen Leighton, while during a schitzophrenic episode caused by his medically-induced transformation into the creature from the planet Theta, utters the line, "...I am (Caliban), with a PhD."

In the Babylon 5 episode "TKO" it is Caliban who coaches Walker Smith to eventual victory in the 'Mutai', an alien blood match that had previously never been entered by a human.

Pronounciation of Caliban[edit]

Shouldn't it be /Cal-i-ban/ ('i' as in 'bit') in BrE in addition to AmE pronounciation (/Cal-i-ban/, 'i' as in 'Cal-i-fornia') mentioned in the article?


It would be interesting to know how the character has been portrayed in different productions of The Tempest. I've just seen in Spring 2014 a production directed by Aaron Posner and Teller in which Caliban was portrayed by a pair of actors (Zachary Eisenstat, Manelich Minniefee) who were costumed identically (loin cloths, brown stains all over their bodies, wild hair, blackened teeth), spoke most lines simultaneously, and walked around with one carrying the other or in other partner acrobatic postures. The lines mentioning his "four legs" when Trinculo was tangled with Caliban were changed to "six legs", but the character was otherwise treated as a single entity. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:13, 27 May 2014 (UTC)


  1. ^ Wright, Hugh, Auden and Gresham's in Conference Common Room, Vol. 44, No. 2, Summer 2007 online at (accessed 25 April 2008)

The Colonial aspect[edit]

The postcolonial reading has lent him special importance.Since, he represents embodiment of slavery and usurpation on "native land". This striking angle for caliban has been ignored. Somebody, do the character and its significance justice .

Happy sage (talk) 19:01, 4 September 2017 (UTC)