A Different Mirror

A Different Mirror

by

Ronald Takaki

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Caliban is a character in Shakespeare’s play The Tempest. He is indigenous to the island upon which Prospero and the other characters are washed up, and is exploited during Prospero’s attempt at colonization. Takaki argues that Caliban is a racial “Other” who could metaphorically represent many of the ethnic groups discussed in A Different Mirror.

Caliban Quotes in A Different Mirror

The A Different Mirror quotes below are all either spoken by Caliban or refer to Caliban. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Unity vs. Division Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Back Bay edition of A Different Mirror published in 2008.
Part 1, Chapter 2: The “Tempest” in the Wilderness Quotes

This demonization of Indians served complicated ends. The enemy was not only external but also internal. To the Puritans, the Indians were like Caliban, a "born devil": they had failed to control their appetites, to create boundaries separating mind from body. They represented what English men and women in America thought they were not, and, more important—what they must not become. As exiles living in the wilderness far from “civilization,” the Puritans used their negative images of Indians to delineate the moral requirements they had set up for themselves.

Related Characters: Ronald Takaki (speaker), Caliban
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire A Different Mirror LitChart as a printable PDF.
A Different Mirror PDF

Caliban Character Timeline in A Different Mirror

The timeline below shows where the character Caliban appears in A Different Mirror. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 2: The “Tempest” in the Wilderness
Whiteness and the Other Theme Icon
Labor, Profit, and the Building of the Nation Theme Icon
Citizenship, Identity, and the American Dream Theme Icon
...on an island, and colonizes it. The island is inhabited by an indigenous person called Caliban. Takaki explains that it’s easy to see how The Tempest could be a metaphor for... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 3: The Hidden Origins of Slavery
Whiteness and the Other Theme Icon
Caliban could have also been African. Like Indians, Africans were also captured during the 16th century... (full context)
Unity vs. Division Theme Icon
Whiteness and the Other Theme Icon
Segregation vs. Assimilation Theme Icon
...Tempest depicts an “interracial class revolt” in which the white jester and butler conspire with Caliban to overthrow Prospero. The jester and butler at first think of Caliban as a “monster,”... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 6: Fleeing “the Tyrant’s Heel”
Unity vs. Division Theme Icon
Whiteness and the Other Theme Icon
Labor, Profit, and the Building of the Nation Theme Icon
Segregation vs. Assimilation Theme Icon
Citizenship, Identity, and the American Dream Theme Icon
Takaki argues that “Caliban could also have been Irish.” The English subjected the Irish to terrible subjugation, and millions... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 8: Searching for Gold Mountain
Unity vs. Division Theme Icon
Whiteness and the Other Theme Icon
Labor, Profit, and the Building of the Nation Theme Icon
Citizenship, Identity, and the American Dream Theme Icon
Takaki proclaims that “Caliban also could have been Asian.” During the 19th century, certain white Americans believed that the... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 11: The Exodus from Russia
Unity vs. Division Theme Icon
Whiteness and the Other Theme Icon
Labor, Profit, and the Building of the Nation Theme Icon
Segregation vs. Assimilation Theme Icon
Citizenship, Identity, and the American Dream Theme Icon
According to Takaki, Caliban could have likewise been Jewish. In Russia, Jews were “degraded as the ‘Other’” and faced... (full context)