An Examination of Nature Versus Nurture in The Tempest

In The Tempest, there is a power dynamic between the powerful over the powerless. Many critics discuss this power dynamic in terms of what it means for the play. One such critic is Frank Kermode, who argues that Prospero’s triumph over Caliban is a representation of art’s triumph over nature. However, Kermode argues this through the eyes of Prospero. Paul Brown, on the other hand, argues that Prospero’s triumph over Caliban is part of a colonialist discourse that sets up Caliban as a strange “other” to confirm the colonizers as superior. Although Brown studies the relationship between Caliban and Prospero, there is one other character who has a similar relationship with the ruler of the island: Ariel. Prospero’s treatment of Ariel and Caliban causes their behavior towards him. Because Prospero rewards Ariel for good behavior, Ariel is obedient and respectful. However, because Prospero treats Caliban as subhuman, Caliban is defiant. Through this reading, nurture wins against nature in The Tempest.

An Examination of Nature Versus Nurture in The Tempest