The Key Difference Between Segismundo and Caliban—An Education

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From Stephen Rupp’s “Reason of State and Repetition in The Tempest and La vida es sueño”:

“He realizes he could call his father to account for denying him not only his patrimony, but also the most fundamental of human liberties.  His understanding is, however, dangerously one-sided, in that he does not recognize limitation of any kind on his own conduct” (310). 

Essentially Rupp’s argument comes down to the same focal point that Sears’s did.  Segismundo and Basilio need to learn to rule within certain parameters.  They are neither completely free, nor completely chained.  They have to find a happy medium between controlling, and realizing they do not have ultimate power.  And also they need find a balance between being educated, focusing on their subjects, and having Christian morals.     

However, despite the idea of finding a way to break from the repetition of constant political upheaval found in both The Tempest and La vida es sueño, I noticed another correspondence between the two works as I was reading.  I thought that Segismundo did not just relate to Ferdinand as Rupp stated, but also to Caliban.  Caliban in a sense is Segismundo without the benefit of some sort of an education. 

Caliban, like Segismundo, is a “hybrid.”  Segismundo calls himself a monster and acts without thought for other people; he says he will kill Clotaldo with his bare hands in an animalistic fashion.  Caliban and Segismundo are both tempted by women and both will do whatever they deem necessary to maintain control of their land (Caliban through reproducing with Miranda and Segismundo through usurping his father).  The main difference between the two characters is that Segismundo even without having experience in the real world has been given an education. 

So my question to you is, if the only thing separating Segismundo from being as animalistic as Caliban is his education, what does this tell us about both human nature and education?       

Read what my classmates have to say about this topic. 


james lohr said:

Ahh...the happy medium. I believe that it tells us that we are of both worlds. Many people forget how our ancestors survived day to day hunting and gathering...we lived by instinct, and we are in fact animals. Animals kill for similar reasons to humans, for food, as well as for control. The only difference between us and the animals is our "education", but no matter how high in the ivory tower one may reside, their mind is still controlled in part by thousands upon thousands of years of instinct.

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