Exoticism is the essential part of Shakespeare’s Romantic comedy. In fact, the word ‘exotic’ was first used in 1599 to mean ‘alien, introduced from abroad, not indigenous’. By 1651 its meaning had been extended to include ‘an exotic and foreign territory, ‘an exotic habit and demeanor’ (OED).As a noun, the term meant ‘a foreigner plant not acclimatized’. During the nineteenth century, however, the exotic or the foreign, increasingly gained, throughout the empire, the connotations of a stimulating or exciting difference, something with which the domestic could be (safely) spiced (Ashcroft et al., 2004: 94).
The key conception here is the introduction of the exotic from abroad ...view middle of the document...
At first, Prospero’s attitude to the island is similar to the attitude of the colonizer who goes to the colonies. It is true that Prospero’s coming to the island is accidental not intentional. He did not come to the island to better his condition. He was made an exile against his will. But as soon as he lands on the island his conduct does not differ from that of a colonist. He subjects the two inhabitants namely Claiban and Ariel of the island and demands unwavering loyalty from them. He uses the island as a colony and very much like a colonist discards it as soon as his use for it is over. That Prospero at heart is a colonist is seen by the fact that he hates the island in spite of passing twelve years there. He calls it “a poor cell”, “a poor court” though the island gives him shelter, provides him substance and creates opportunity to accomplish his mission. Caliban, a native of the island, regards himself as the rightful owner of the place. Due to his self awareness he bluntly states:
“This island is mine, by Sycorax my mother,
which thou tak’st from me”. [In The Tempest : Act-1, scene-2]
“You taught me language; and my profit on’t
Is, I known how to curse; the red plague rid you
For leaning me your language” [In The Tempest : Act-1, scene-2]
He is forced against his will to serve Prospero and Miranda. But Caliban refuses to live by Prospero’s rules and tries to rape Miranda. Thus, Caliban’s awareness about self and others is the essence of post-colonial study. On the other hand, in Twelfth Night we also find the master-slave relationship which is the part of post-colonial study. Olivia and the Duke Orsino, Sir Toby play the role of masters; and Viola, Maria, Feste, the Clowns and Malvolio are the characters who play the servants. Therefore, both the two plays are concerned with exoticism and post-colonial issues.
Remote or distant setting/ Exotic setting
A remote or distant (exotic) place is a notable feature of Shakespeare’s romantic comedy, which exist only in the imagination of the dramatist. In the play Twelfth Night, we see the action occurs on the shores of Illyria. Though some critics have identified it as a region on the east coast of Adriatic, Shakespeare does not really connect the events of Twelfth Night with any definite locality. This ambiguity or uncertainty is also exactly suitable for a romantic comedy. Similarly, The Tempest is also a play which has an exotic setting with an unknown island. This enchanted island is located in unknown sea, far away from our daily business of lives. The very remoteness of the island makes it romantic. So, exotic setting is an outstanding feature of Shakespeare’s romantic comedy.
Mingling tragic and comic element
The exotic setting is use in the romantic comedy in order to mingle both romantic and comic elements. Due to the exoticism, the tragic and comic element elements are mingle together in The Tempest and Twelfth Night .In both plays, the main plot is serious and...