European Colonization In Shakespeare's The Tempest

1306 words - 5 pages

No Critique of European Colonization in The Tempest 

 
Since the 1960s, several critics have found a critique of colonialism in their respective readings of Shakespeare's The Tempest. The most radical of these analyses takes Prospero to be a European invader of the magical but primitive land that he comes to rule, using his superior knowledge to enslave its original inhabitants, most notably Caliban, and forcing them to do his bidding. While the textual clues concerning the geographic location of Prospero's island are ambiguous and vague, there is a prominent references to the "Bermoothes." We know that shortly before he wrote his final play, Shakespeare read a contemporary travel account of the Virginia Company's 1609 expedition to the New World and its experience after being run aground on the island of Bermuda. Enslavement does surface in Prospero's realm. The grand magician/scholar inflicts "pinches" and "cramps" upon Caliban to keep him in line and he manacles the young prince Ferdinand's neck and feet together. The servile state in which he keeps Caliban is plainly and understandably a cause of the "ridiculous monster's" deep resentment toward his overlord, and it is with some justification that the spawn of Sycorax invokes nature's wrath upon his tormentor, as in his curse, "all the infections that the sun sucks up/From bogs, fens, flats on Prospero fall..." (II, ii., ll.1-2).

Caliban himself embodies many of the characteristics that civilized Europeans came to associate with the "primitive natives" of the New World. As in the Elizabethan stereotype, Caliban is without moral restraint, and, more specifically, he is lustful in the same way that Native Americans were viewed in the early seventeenth century as dangerous despoilers of innocent white women like Miranda. And, akin to the "drunken Indian," Caliban's introduction to wine causes his spirits to soar as he exclaims, "Freedom, high-day" (II, ii..l.186) after encountering his new masters and gods, the comic characters of Stephano and Trinculo. Just as Native American tribes would come to distinguish between colonizers from different nations, e.g., favoring the French over the British or vice versa, Caliban becomes disenchanted with Trinculo as a master and proclaims that he will only serve Stephano. For his part, like some great father protecting his children from a European rival, Stephano rebukes Trinculo for his mistreatment of Caliban, saying that "the poor monster's my subject, and he shall not suffer indignity" (III, ii., ll.36-37). All of this closely resembles some aspects of European colonialist stereotypes of the New World's peoples and of their historical subjugation of Indians for their own good.

If Shakespeare's play does comment upon European exploration and colonization in the Western Hemisphere, however, The Tempest does not contain a critique of exploitation, but, instead, an apology for it. Caliban was initially treated as an ignorant child and only...

Find Another Essay On European Colonization in Shakespeare's The Tempest

Art and Nature in Shakespeare's The Tempest

1151 words - 5 pages Shakespeare bid farewell to his.  Prospero's island of paradise is no longer a place for enchantment, but instead a bare island, lacking "Spirits to enforce, art to enchant" (Tempest, 121).  The lonely state of nature without art to enhance it is one of Shakespeare's final points.  Prospero realizes then he must move back from whence his came, to his dukedom in Italy.  The island is now regarded as a place of transition where reality is reaffirmed

Defending Prospero in Shakespeare's The Tempest

1796 words - 7 pages Defending Prospero in The Tempest      In William Shakespeare's The Tempest, the character of Prospero brings about a great deal of debate. Modern literary critics are quick to use him as a poster child for English colonial practice in the sixteenth and seventeenth century. Many see him as person who desires complete control of everything around him from the fish-like monster Caliban to his spirit servant Ariel, even his own daughter

Importance of Language in Shakespeare's The Tempest

1866 words - 7 pages authors evaluate Shakespeare's play The Tempest to be a romance with a "comic subplot", and thereby show how important the interpretation of the language and interaction is in finding meaning in the play. Literary critic Richard Hillman says that, in general, romantic dramas are characterized by their fantasy-like atmosphere with love as the main focus or concern of the play, and they usually exhibit a complete disregard for normal or

Importance of Environment in Shakespeare's The Tempest

2000 words - 8 pages begins with a tempest which invokes explicitly all four elements in their uproars, G. Wilson Knight has shown how constant the "tempest" idea and symbolism is in Shakespeare's thought: the movements of the cruel, ruthless, raging sea are frequently a symbol of the passions and emotions of men. It is Prospero's responsibility then as creator of the tempest to initiate change amongst the men under his rule; he has to bring disorder to order, storm to

Prospero’s Loss in Shakespeare's The Tempest

2061 words - 8 pages . Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1958. xlii. Palmer, D. J. (Editor) The Tempest - A Selection of Critical Essays London: MacMillan Press Ltd., 1977. Shakespeare, William. The Tempest. The Riverside Shakespeare. Ed. G. Blakemore Evans, et. al. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1974. Solomon, Andrew. "A Reading of the Tempest." In Shakespeare's Late Plays. Ed. Richard C. Tobias and Paul G. Zolbrod. Athens: Ohio UP, 1974. 232. John Wilders' lecture on The Tempest given at Oxford University - Worcester College - August 4th, 1999.

Mothers in William Shakespeare's The Tempest

2268 words - 9 pages Mothers in William Shakespeare's The Tempest Although Miranda’s mother and Sycorax never actually appear in The Tempest, their memories occupy a precarious position in Prospero’s will to power. Prospero invokes the memory of Miranda’s mother to legitimize his lineage, yet feels threatened by the control she exerts over it. His narration deftly erases his wife’s presence from Miranda’s memory, rendering him the sole purveyor of his

William Shakespeare's The Tempest

3428 words - 14 pages William Shakespeare's The Tempest Generally acknowledged as one of Shakespeare's final plays, 'The Tempest' may be described as a romantic tragi-comedy - where love and contentment prosper despite the threatening presence of evil forces. However, beyond the almost 'fairy-tale' like exterior lies a seemingly direct approach to a greatly topical debate at the time. This was the supposed contrast between civilised and

William Shakespeare's The Tempest

2257 words - 9 pages William Shakespeare's The Tempest Love, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is a “strong affection”, a “warm attraction”, an “unselfish loyal and benevolent concern” for another. It is “to feel a passion, devotion, or tenderness” for another. Love is simple and yet so utterly complex. Love is that which has the power to build you up and when taken away has the potential to knock you down. The Tempest by William Shakespeare is a political

William Shakespeare's The Tempest

1888 words - 8 pages William Shakespeare's The Tempest ‘The Tempest’ was Shakespeare’s last major play and is partly based on a true story about a ship called ‘The Seaventure’ which set sail for America in 1609. However, the ship was blown off course by a storm and ended up in Bermuda. This was the time when people were just beginning to explore the world and Bermuda was thought to be inhabited by spirits, demons and monsters. Shakespeare

The Tempest vs. European Colonialism

1146 words - 5 pages play. For example, there is a ship, the Sea Venture, that crashes on the island of Bermudes and the passengers are stranded here. Similar to how Caliban has a subtle connection to the New World, Bermudes could also be seen in a similar light. Bermudes can be interpreted as the modern day Bermuda. The Tempest alludes to the colonization of Bermuda in 1612 where the indigenous people were taken as slaves similar to how Caliban is taken a slave by

Women in Elizabethan England and Shakespeare's Miranda in The Tempest

3502 words - 14 pages Women in Elizabethan England and Shakespeare's Miranda in The Tempest Treatment of women has evolved much since Elizabethan England. As a preface to the dissection of The Tempest – in particular, the character of Miranda, Shakespeare’s role for women as a whole must be addressed. According to Carolyn Ruth Swift Lenz’s introduction of Woman’s Part, “patriarchal order takes different forms and is portrayed with varying degrees of emphasis

Similar Essays

Tempcolon Essay On European Colonization In The Tempest

2096 words - 8 pages The Theme of European Colonization in The Tempest           The Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries were distinguished times, in which new thoughts and great legends were being born and Europe was changing. People were seeing their world in a new, dazzling light. Humanity's greatest writers, scientists, and composers were beginning to share their gifts. However, underneath these artistic overtones were the political changes, too. There

Caliban In Shakespeare's The Tempest Essay

1868 words - 7 pages Vasco da Gama sparked what has come to be known as the age of European Expansion, when England and the rest of Europe began devoting their energies to exploring and developing markets overseas. When The Tempest was written, these immensely important social events were on the top of everyone’s mind, including, presumably, Shakespeare’s. It is for this reason that the play is often considered an allegory of European discovery and in particular

Tempcolon The Theme Of Colonization In The Tempest

1998 words - 8 pages The Theme of Colonization in The Tempest         Colony-A member or inhabitant of a colony.  A body of emigrants who settle in a remote region but remain under the control of a parent country.  --Webster's Dictionary   Can Prospero be defined as a type of colonist?  He does, after all, impose his presence onto an island already inhabited by somebody else, take over control and enslave his predecessor, while at the same time still

The Theme Of Colonialism In Shakespeare's Tempest

2640 words - 11 pages perils of the struggle of exploration. Also the title of the play is The Tempest which also hints how powerful the storms of the ocean are, that it can determine the fate of many people as seen in the play; and is relatable to real life events such as the one described earlier. The Tempest also reflect the concerns of the times such as the exploration of foreign lands and struggles for power and the colonization of lands as seen in the role of the