Shakespeare, The Tempest Essay

3304 words - 13 pages

Discuss how Shakespeare treats the theme of colonisation throughout The Tempest.The story of an expedition to colonise part of America may have inspired Shakespeare to write 'The Tempest'. The stories of colonisation are strongly echoed in the play. For example when Trinculo first sees Caliban he wonders how much money he could make from exhibiting Caliban at an English fair.The European greed was a driving force of so-called 'civilisation'. They did not stop to think and consider Calibans feelings. As a native of the island they saw him as the demoralised, detribalised, suffering monster. We see this when Stephano and Trinculo call Caliban names such as 'moon-calf' and 'ignorant monster'. It can also be seen when Stephano sees Calibans nervousness as a fit and thinks he can recover him with wine and tame him so that he can be sold. Stephano says,'He's in his fit now, and does not talk after the wisest.He shall taste of my bottle...It will go near to remove his fit...'These are examples of how the colonisers would have acted. They would not have considered the natives feelings and would have stolen their land and enslaved them, brought them back to Europe and sold them like animals. The colonisers behaved as if they were superior to the natives of the islands they were colonising. They thought that their way of life was much better than the natives and forced their ways upon the natives. However they did not do this in a nice way. Instead they were barbaric and in there own way savage about it. They would steal the natives land and enslave them and force their language and religions upon them. At the beginning of the play Shakespeare's attitude towards colonisation seems to be ambiguous.In 'The Tempest' Shakespeare establishes the stereotypes of the coloniser and the colonised. Characters that come across, as the colonisers are Miranda, Prospero, Stephano and Trinculo. Caliban is made out to be the colonised native. However Shakespeare does not allow characters to fit neatly into one stereotype. The first colonisers we come across are Prospero and Miranda. They behave as colonisers in different ways. They are presented as colonisers in that they stole Caliban's island. We see evidence of this in Act 1 Scene 2 when Caliban says, 'This island's mine by Sycorax my mother/Which thou tak'st from me...' however further on lines 348 and 349 we learn that Caliban tried to rape Miranda and was not sorry for it. He wished he could have succeeded as he says, 'Thou didst prevent me - I had peopled else/This isle with Calibans.' This seems to be the reason for Prospero treating Caliban this way and shows Calibans savage, vindictive nature.They are also presented as colonisers by the way they economically exploit Caliban and view and treat him as inferior. This is evident in Act 1 Scene 2 when Prospero calls to Caliban and says,'Come forth, I say; there's other business for thee.Come, thou tortoise, when?'This quote shows they have exploited him by making him...

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