The Tempest : Element of Humour in encounter of Caliban with Trinculo and Stephano in Act 2 scene 2

 Element of Humour in Act 2 Scene 2 :

Question : Bring out the element of humour and its significance in the encounter of Caliban with Trinculo and Stephano in “The Tempest”.

Answer:  In Act 2 Scene 2 of  ” The Tempest “, although there is no development of the story, but the scene is provided as a comic relief and relies on one of the standard comic routines, that is, the state of being drunk. 
      The sight of the monstrous Caliban, Trinculo in the colourful costume of the court jester and Stephano, the self declared king of the island, all move around the scene, intoxicated. This creates a hilarious situation. 
     One of these farcical situations is about Caliban’s encounter with Trinculo, a jester and Stephano a drunkard butler. In this scene, we see the formation of the group of three – Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo – who will stick together until the end of the play. 
    The first farcical situation is seen in the figure of Caliban lying flat on the ground, to hide himself from observation. To Trinculo, he appears as a strange creature, almost like a fish. 
  ” What have we here? a man or a fish ..”
    Trinculo then makes humourous remarks and says that if he had been in England, he would have made money by exhibiting this strange fish to the people. 
     Again he remarks that this creature is not a fish but an islander who has been struck by a thunderbolt.
     The situation where Trinculo takes cover under Caliban’s cloak in order to escape the impending storm is farcical.  
    The second farcical situation is provided by the entry of Stephano, singing in a state of drunkenness. A little later, Stephano sees Caliban and thinks that he is seeing a creature having four legs. Actually Stephano is seeing the two legs of Caliban and two legs of Trinculo. 
    Caliban himself thinks Trinculo as one of Prospero’s spirit who has come to torment him. So he suddenly cries out loudly, Stephano hears his cries and pours some wine down his throat.
    Caliban gets intoxicated and then he thinks that the one who has given him this heavenly drink must be a God. Then Stephano pours a large portion of liquor down Caliban’s throat, who deems it to be  “celestial liquor” sent by some  “brave god”.
     When liquor takes its effect, Caliban wants to worship Stephano and fall onto his feet to pay his obeisance. The situation is quite humourous.
   Caliban remarks that his mistress pointed Stephano out to him when he was in the moon. Stephano agrees to accept his service and asks him to swear that what he has said is true by kissing the Bible.
    But Trinculo shows contempt towards the abominable, most scurvy monster. 
    Trinculo ridicules Caliban  for his stupidity. He calls him a credulous monster, a shallow monster and a puppy headed monster. Thus the whole situation is farcical and there fore humourous. It provides a comic relief to the audience.
    This incident allows us to imagine a brief interval of time during which the love between Miranda and Ferdinand matures. It also initiates the conspiracy designed by Caliban for the murder of Prospero, involving Stephano and Trinculo, revealing the evil nature of Caliban, in particular.
     It parallels the conspiracy hatched by Antonio and Sebastian against Alonso. Both these conspiracies are frustrated because of Prospero’s foreknowledge about them.

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