A character in William Shakespeare's The Tempest.

In histories given by both Prospero and Caliban himself, Caliban is said to be the son of a witch, Sycorax, who came to the island and ruled the natural spirits living there (Sycorax is the one who imprisoned the spirit Ariel in a tree before her death). In his version, also, Prospero asserts that Caliban's father was the Devil himself. Either way, he is always described as ugly, malformed, and generally unpleasant to look upon. Nevertheless, after his mother dies, Caliban is the sole mortal inhabitant of the island, and lives freely ruling himself.

When Prospero and his daughter Miranda are exiled to live on the island alone, they encounter Caliban, who shows them the best places on the island to gather food and fresh water. In turn, they work to teach him how to express himself in words. Eventually Caliban angers Prospero by attempting to mate with Miranda--not necessarily out of a malicious desire to rape, though Prospero would have us believe that, but instead out of a natural desire to people what he still sees as his island. Prospero then enslaves Caliban using his magical powers, torturing Caliban with pinches and other irritations whenever he grumbles about his condition. All this is already in place at the play's start.

Two shipwrecked drunkards--one a foolish gentleman named Stephano, the other a jester called Trinculo--give Caliban a drink of liquor, and amazed by the power of the beverage he proclaims them gods. He soon enlists their aid in a plot designed to murder Prospero; a plot which is thwarted before the play's end.