Who are Stephano and Trinculo? What kind of performers would you want to cast for these roles?
Stephano is a boisterous butler of King Alonso, who is stranded on the island. Caliban believes Stephano to be a god because he gave him wine to drink, which Caliban claims is not of this earth. Trinculo is a jester who is friends with Stephano and is also stranded on the Island after their boat is ship-wrecked. As such he has free reign to make comments about other people, to amuse and entertain. He’s been shipwrecked-the social order he is accustomed to at court has been fractured. Trinculo arrives on an island and doesn’t know what will happen to him. Trinculo is desperate to please and is not a natural leader. He’s relieved that Stephano plays the role of leader. He’s cowardly, too. He threatens to beat Caliban but he never does, he also needs an audience. Even when Trinculo is alone he talks to himself.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH CALIBAN?
Both Trinculo and Stephno view Caliban as a savage. They both refer to Caliban as a “monster”. Stepheno and Trinculo hold a position of servitude. Stephano a butler and Trinculo a jester. With Caliban they can switch roles. They feel that Caliban is inferior to them because he is a native of the island. The liquor that Stephano gives Caliban to give clouds his judgement and increases his hatred for Propero. With that being said, Caliban is willing to be their servant. Caliban has a master/servant relationship with Stephano and Trinculo. This is seen in particular with Stephano, because he is the one that supplied the liquor. Stephano the boss and Caliban the gullible subordinate.
If this play may be read as an early analysis of colonial presumption, what do we learn about the imperial project from the comparative merits of Stephano, Trinculo, and Caliban?
The Tempest can be viewed as a culturally appealing play, especially when observed from a post-colonial perspective. Immediately since the first act, we can categorize Caliban as the unfortunate victim of colonization because of Prospero’s dictatorial actions over the island and its inhabitants.
Stephano and Trinculo could easily be a parody representation of Prospero [ or European Colonists ]. Though they were drunk, which I feel adds a comedic tone to the scene, there is still a disturbing feel to how they treat Caliban even in their humor. They consider themselves as superior to Caliban, labeling him as a “monster” or a lesser human. Stephano states “If I can recover him and keep him tame, I will / not take too much for him; he shall pay for him / that hath him, and that soundly.” Stephano’s lack of respect for Caliban is very evident here, where he considers him as some[thing] tamable. He also thinks he can cure his “ague” or fever by offering him his own liquor. Like European colonists, Stephano thinks he could help this poor and unfortunate creature with an element that is “not earthly.” Trinculo is on the sideline, mocking and poking fun of Caliban’s inebriated state, not taking any care for him.
A further observation of these characters’ colonialist actions is found in Stephano and Trinculo’s goal in the desire to take over the island. “I prithee now, lead the way without any more/ talking. Trinculo, the king and all our company / else being drowned, we will inherit here: here; / bear my bottle: fellow Trinculo, we’ll fill him by and by again.” Like European colonialists, Stephano and Trinculo immediately disregard the island’s native inhabitants, wanting to overtake the land and using it for whatever means they feel necessary. Caliban’s naïveté subjects him to serving Stephano and Trinculo blindly, lacking complete self respect and as well as respect for his homeland. It is no accident that while Stephano and Trinculo follow Caliban off at the end of the scene, exclaims Caliban to be a “brave monster!” Can we say this is an allegorical reference to the “Brave New World”?