Who or what is Setebos? What is going on with the pronouns, and why does the speaker, Caliban from Shakespeare’s late play “The Tempest”. Twenty years after Browning had written Caliban upon Setebos he once singled it out as his most representative ” dramatic ” poem.’ For Browning the word. Significant quotes in Robert Browning’s Caliban Upon Setebos with explanations .

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Caliban isn’t an ignorant, incompetent theologian who doesn’t understand the need for revelation, or The New Testament. Last night I was talking with a friend who read aloud a passage from Dr. White blaze — A tree’s head snaps- and there, there, there, there, there, His thunder follows!

Forged from a partnership between a university press and a library, Project MUSE is a trusted part of the academic and scholarly community it serves. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless. Book titles OR Journal titles. Setebos, Setebos and Setebos! The place may seem to be in the West Indies, but it has a universal quality, with creatures and vegetation drawn from diverse and incompatible habitats.

She said that Setebos did not make, but merely toyed with, the creatures of the island.

But perhaps Caliban is the rightful heir to the island? Setebos isn’t much like the Christian God, and is closer to the sort of demiurge detected by the Epicureans and Gnostics. In the poem the polarities are caloban shifting. Newman’s Apology in which he says that “he is as convinced of the existence of God”—an individual, not an external force merely—”as of setebbos own existence: He will switch to the first person when he is excited or indignant.

By the end of the poem, though, the thought is far more complex because the relationship between creator and creature has been subjected to a shuttling process, leaving in doubt even the priority between the two. In one sense Prospero, and yet we hear relatively little about him, or at least, not directly. For instance, they set the spoken monologue and written text in play against each other.

Ssetebos monologue is soon over, so there isn’t time for Caliban to undertake some great or groping spiritual pilgrimage. Who or what is Setebos?


View freely available titles: Do you see the bearing of all this as I seem to see it? Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of capiban humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide. He initially uses the third person, perhaps in case he is overheard, and perhaps because he seems at times to view himself from the outside.

The only thing Caliban can do is lie low and be ready to offer up to Setebos czliban quails and whelks he has been saving for himself.

Department of English

Browning probably composed the poem inand seems to have absorbed detail from Darwin ‘s The Voyage of The Beaglebut not upin concepts of The Origin of Speciesstill less of The Descent of Manwhich was not published until What happens in Browning’s “Caliban upon Seyebos Caliban hints that he is more sea monster than simian, claiming that Prospero has penned a lumpish sea-beast in a rock hole and calls him Caliban.

In his letter of June 27,to Julia Uopn, Robert Browningreports on the following encounter: Further Reading Holmes, John. The vital flame which proceeded from him at first returns to him in our perfected form at last, bearing with it all good and lovely things, and making of all the far-extending Past but one daliban Present, glorious and everlasting. Caliban himself is similarly wilful, saving beetles and killing flies because the former toil away while the latter are gaudily annoying.

The account Caliban gives of Setebos’ behaviour owes much to setebks detailed observation of the island’s flora and fauna. Caliban thinks that some of Setebos’ creatures are finer and more talented than their maker, yet they are also dependent on him for doing anything at all. These were made by the Quiet, a mysterious and indifferent higher god who is the antithesis of the capricious, vindictive and noisily thunderous Setebos.

He also fears him.

Project MUSE – Robert Browning’s Decoding of Natural Theology in “Caliban Upon Setebos”

Rather, he’s a wanton but devilishly clever boy, projecting his discomforts and frustrations onto all he observes, can conceive, and can “vex,” or trouble.

His dam held different, that after death He both plagued enemies and feasted friends: And then, at the end of an hour or so of this monologue, with, apparently, only himself as his audience, Caliban realises that Setebos has found him out: British and Calbian Poetry in the Age of Evolution.


A Sequel to “Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation”Eetebos, like Newman, expresses his conviction of the existence of God and states further the belief that his understanding of the very nature of his detebos existence offers an insight into the nature of God. What is going on with the pronouns, and why does the speaker, Caliban from Shakespeare’s late play “The Tempest”, switch between the third and first person in talking about himself?

But now, having temporarily evaded their supervision, his speech has the tone of a resentful and mischievous Victorian teenage boy. Caliban isn’t quite the Missing Link between man and apes. And calibsn the poem Browning himself plays with, vexes, Caliban, and us, in the sympathetic mockery of his tough Camberwell intelligence and in the piling of quotation upon quotation, allusion setsbos allusion, from the many remembered volumes of his father’s magical library.

What neither Setebos nor Caliban can stand is boastful confidence in any creature. In the meantime, Setebos, like habit, guarantees the continuity of life on the island, and must be evaded or appeased, according to circumstance.

The wind Shoulders the pillared dust, death’s house o’ the move, And fast invading fires begin! Project MUSE Mission Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and sftebos worldwide. Fool to gibe at Him!

Ryals, “in ‘Caliban upon Setebos’ Browning deals with the Higher Critics’ thesis that God is created in the image of man and with the natural theologians’ claim that the character of God can be derived from the evidences of nature.