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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What happens in Browning’s “Caliban upon Setebos”?

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

Yet the alcohol also makes him more cleverly manipulative, to the point where you wonder whether he is going to get the upper hand, like the Slave in Hegel’s dialectic of Master and Slave, or the slaves in Nietzsche’s Christian revolt against the noble Ancients.

Fool to gibe at Him! What’s more, he quickly gets tipsy on fermented vegetable juice, and experiences the sensation of maggots in the brain.

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. It’s a fiction created out of an earlier, Shakespearean fiction, and a mimicking and impersonation of an unreal yet vivid creature who can never be known with certainty, coming as he does from an earlier and inexhaustible text. Setebos isn’t much like the Christian God, and is closer to the sort of demiurge detected by the Epicureans setebps Gnostics.

British and American Poetry in the Age of Evolution. cliban

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.

In the meantime, Setebos, like habit, guarantees the continuity of life on the island, and must be evaded or appeased, according to circumstance.

There scuds His raven that has told Him all! And who is Caliban’s Master? Setebos, Setebos and Setebos! Last night I was talking with a friend who read aloud a passage from Dr. Caliban has been told by his witch mother Sycorax who is now dead, about a god, Setebos, uppn lives in the moon:.


Department of English

Built on the Johns Hopkins University Campus. He’s not omnipotent, and rather than blessing his creation he capriciously torments or spares it. It would be possible to produce a more complex explanation for the adoption and effect of these graphic signs. Caliban both worships and dreads Setebos, and hopes that eventually he will be conquered by the Quiet, or fall into a long decrepit doze. He xaliban be a part of the natural order but he has achieved some form of individuation, self-awareness and individual agency.

Browning, in bestowing on Caliban this distinctive rough yet immensely sophisticated language, will put into his mouth many more such two-term compounds as “eft-things. His dam held different, that after death He both plagued enemies and feasted friends:.

Setebow through the poem Browning himself setfbos with, vexes, Caliban, and us, in the sympathetic mockery of his tough Camberwell intelligence and in the piling of quotation upon quotation, allusion upon allusion, from the many remembered volumes of his father’s magical library. Rather, he’s a wanton but devilishly clever boy, projecting his discomforts and frustrations onto all he observes, can conceive, caliabn can “vex,” or trouble.

But now, having temporarily evaded their supervision, his speech has the tone of a resentful and mischievous Victorian teenage boy. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless. Browning here seems aware of how arguments such as Newman’s can be appropriated, taken out of context, and used on incursions into the scientific sphere to justify the enterprise of natural theology, even if Newman’s argument for the existence of God is not being used for that purpose in the passage under discussion.

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

And feels about his spine small eft-things course, Run in and out each arm, and make him laugh:. Browning is keenly aware of the not very subtle anthropomorphism that underwrites the postulation of a personate deity whose attributes as an individual are both knowable and known, not to mention the solipsism of such a postulation. Rent from DeepDyve Recommend. Do you see the bearing of all this as I seem to see it? Unfortunately for him, Caliban forgets that this disposition also applies to the speculation he is indulging in, with consequences we will come to.


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 his own existence: Caliban isn’t quite the Missing Link between man and apes.

Rather, he lovingly and imaginatively dramatises him, without disguising his faults and limitations. Setebos, Caliban believes, created everything but the stars. I find the poem ironical rather than satirical. By the end of the poem, though, the thought is far more complex because the relationship between creator and creature has been subjected cliban a shuttling process, leaving in doubt even the priority between the two.

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. Yet something important is going on: Browning probably composed the poem inand seems to have absorbed detail from Darwin ‘s The Voyage of The Beaglebut not the concepts of The Origin of Speciesstill less of The Descent of Manwhich was not published until He identifies strongly with Setebos as creator, and he imagines emulating him, perhaps by making a bird and sending it off to snap up flies, and sehebos replacing its broken leg with three legs.

When anyone tells me that he has such a conviction, I look at a beggar who holds the philosopher’s stone according to his profession. He arbitrarily kills or maims calihan crabs, while saving others, as they scuttle down to the sea. 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.