Tempest Is One Of William Term Paper

Length: 6 pages Sources: 4 Subject: Literature Type: Term Paper Paper: #98230737 Related Topics: Avatar, Colonization, Colonialism, Spanish
Excerpt from Term Paper :

This is, in fact, the basis of colonization as the natives are subdued and forced to abandon their language and traditions in favor of the colonizers'.

Critics who supported the thesis of "The Tempest" being a description of the Spaniards' experience in the Americas considered Caliban to be a Native American despite the multitude of details that differentiate him from the Indians as they were described in the travelers' reports from the New World. The traits that make Caliban resemble Native Americans are taken into consideration, but the differences are disregarded. The methods of control and torture that Prospero utilizes on Caliban remind of the Spanish; for instance, Prospero and Ariel hunt Caliban with spirit dogs, a method of capturing and torturing Native Americans that the Spaniards used (Skura: 49). However, Prospero also has Caliban pinched by the spirits whenever he curses. This ritual could be symbolical of the Haitian masters of slaves who burned them alive.

The literary critics who argue against the theme of colonization in "The Tempest" claim that rationalization (attempting to justify Prospero's cruelty towards Caliban by making the former seem good, and the latter inherently bad), is a technique which works against colonialism in Shakespeare's play because this way, Caliban is given the chance to exhibit a series of qualities which were not associated with savage men such as Caliban. Caliban represents anarchy, uprising and the unwillingness to surrender. These, however, were general traits shared by most of the natives who were faced with colonialism. In this sense, he is a generalized reflection of "the other" in the English imperialists' drive for hegemony overseas (Marshall: 387). Both Skura and Marshall challenge the idea that Prospero and Caliban are actors in the typical European-Native American colonial narrative. The Indian as the bogeyman which fits...


Skura also points at a very interesting detail which has been largely disregarded by critics. Sycorax, Caliban's mother, came from the Old World hence Caliban can only be considered half-native because although he was born on the island, his mother was not (Skura: 50).

Paul Brown claims that "a sustained historical and theoretical analysis of the play's involvement in the colonialist project has yet to be undertaken" (Brown: 1985, 48 in Coursen: 125). To some extent, Shakespeare first offers a defense of European colonialism in general, only to undermine and ultimately destroy it through Prospero's epilogue. Shakespeare destroys the myth of the superiority of the European settler by making the slave more intelligent than the avatars of the civilized world such as Stephano and Trinculo. Furthermore, even though Caliban offends European morals, and does not abide by them, his intelligence and strength help him resist in face of the settlers. He is forced to learn their language, but his resistance is silent. The fact that he is able to resist Prospero's authority becomes a merit because this authority is questioned repeatedly throughout the play.


Shakespeare, William. The Tempest. Washington Square Press, 1994

Coursen, H.R. The Tempest a Guide to the Play.…

Sources Used in Documents:


Shakespeare, William. The Tempest. Washington Square Press, 1994

Coursen, H.R. The Tempest a Guide to the Play. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2000.

Marshall, Tristan. "The Tempest and the British Imperium in 1611" the Historical Journal 41.2 (1998): 375-400.

Skura, Meredith Anne. "Discourse and the Individual: The Case of Colonialism in 'The Tempest'" Shakespeare Quarterly 40.1 (1989): 42-69.

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