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Successes And Failures Of Patriarchy In Colonialism

3256 words - 13 pages

In “The Tempest”, “Translations” and “Things Fall Apart”, the theme of patriarchy is explored in different settings; the colonisation of the Irish in “Translations”, an unnamed island in “The Tempest” and the Igbo tribe in “Things Fall Apart”.
Prospero is a familial patriarch, shown through his dominant control of Miranda, such as ‘the very minute bids thee ope thine ear. Obey and be attentive’ . Hugh’s control of Manus is familial, as is Okonkwo’s control of his wives and children. Prospero’s control of Caliban and Hugh’s control of the school is societal. Aristotle says that Humanity is divided...those who have the right to command and those who are born to obey , an aspect of clear importance in these texts. The Elizabethan audience had been thoroughly conditioned to accept the doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings. The philosophical theory of the Divine Right of Kings, considered a King to be a representation of God, appointed by God and above the law, only subject to God’s will, thus anyone below the King, is subject to his command. Prospero is presented as the coloniser, coming under threat with the arrival of the ship, whilst Okonkwo and Hugh are not. Inclusively, Prospero and Okonkwo represent the patriarchal period of the time and are perceived as successful societal patriarchs in the eyes of a Jacobean and post-colonial audience, whereas Hugh is not, as he doesn’t set his priorities correctly and realise at first, the implications of colonialism.

The way in which Prospero and Hugh dominate the other characters are similar. Prospero strongly adheres to the Great Chain of Being, which categorised a strict religious hierarchical order, which saw women below men and beasts below women. Prospero, as a societal patriarch, would have been favoured by the Jacobean audience, as he has complete control of Caliban, in accordance to the Great Chain of Being. Likewise, a post-colonial reception would see him a successful societal patriarch, however, they would view him as a bad-tempered, totalitarian figure and they would see him as unduly strict and often petulant towards Caliban , disagreeing with his tactics. Prospero’s ability to use harsh language and physical force to make Caliban complete domesticated duties, such as when he tells Miranda that one of his tasks is to ‘fetch in the wood /fetch us in fuel ’, serves as a tool of subjugation and stigmatisation. Furthermore, ‘Monster’ is Caliban’s most recurrent sobriquet and Prospero dehumanises him by calling him a ‘beast’ and ‘hag-seed’ . Caliban becomes the epitome of monstrousness, a non-human symbol of human iniquity . Aristotle says, Caliban is born to obey as he originates from ‘Argier’ , in North Africa and is seen by a Jacobean audience as a foil or negation of Western cultures and values . Prospero insults Caliban throughout the play, most seen through Caliban’s introduction. Act One Scene Two presents Prospero in his true light, in which we see his totalitarian dominance, such...

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