Montaigne,Shakespeare, And Columbus; The Argument Of Savagery

1282 words - 6 pages

Both Montaigne and Columbus have the opportunity of observing outside cultures immune to the modern society they live in. Both make judgements relating to the preconceptions they have about civilization and modern society. However, each author has a completely different outlook on the civilizations and so called barbarians they observe. Christopher Columbus views himself as superior to the Natives of the lands based off of his preconceptions. Columbus mentions in his writings how great his land, king, and government are and how beneficial they have been. Columbus goes on to say “All these islands are densely populated with the best people under the sun; they have neither ill-will nor ...view middle of the document...

Later, Montaigne goes on to talk about how the Cannibals are no where near as barbarous as modern civilization by comparing the act of war and what is important to society. The Cannibals view war as an act of valor whereas modern society views war as an act of self prospering. Montaigne sees the simplicity of the Cannibals as being the closest thing to perfection. Montaigne’s views on the Cannibals seem somewhat Utopian as if they live the closest life to perfection because of their ignorance to modern society and their simplicity as a civilization. In The Tempest by Shakespeare many of the characters can be compared to Montaigne and Christopher Columbus’s attitudes towards outside civilizations. A great example is Shakespeare’s characters Prospero, Caliban, and Ariel. The Greatest playwright of all time uses his characters to convey his opinion towards Montaignes thoughts on the cannibals.
After reading The Tempest by Shakespeare it is apparent that many of the Characters represent something more than a simple character. Three characters that standout include Prospero, Caliban and Ariel. Montaigne and Columbus’s attitudes are each conveyed through these characters. Shakespeare does a great job of concealing the true meaning of the characters. A great example is Shakespeares character Prospero who seems to represent modern civilization. Prosperos two servants can be said to represent people who embrace modern civilization and those who don’t. Caliban is a representation of the society that does not embrace modern civilization, but is held captive by it and cannot live without the help of the civilization. Ariel on the other hand is a representation of the society which tries to distance itself from modern civilization. Caliban and Ariel both represent the different views that Columbus and Montaigne have. Caliban is an ethnocentric character just like Columbus is in his Letter of Discovery. Ariel is more of a modest character like that of Montaigne and sees himself on the same level as others and is a more accepting character that takes everything into account before he judges.
Caliban is easily seen as Shakespeares representation of a savage. Prospero views caliban as a slave that is inferior to him because of the things he used to practice with the witch. Throughout the story Caliban can bee seen as a blunt and Vulgar character which is easily represented every time he converses with Prospero. Caliban greets Prospero with a curse showing his anger that i built up towards him. Shakespeare wrote the story during the time period where his country was the strongest and most powerful to him which made him naturally deny any outside civilization and give them no credit. Shakespeare believed that anything contrary to his countries customs were savagery. Shakespeare and Columbus both seem to be ethnocentric beings who strongly believe in their own customs. In the text...

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