Tempcolon Comparing Language In Shakespeare's Tempest And Aime Cesaire's A Tempest

896 words - 4 pages

Colonial Language in Shakespeare's The Tempest and Aime Cesaire's A Tempest

 
    Language and literature are the most subtle and seductive tools of domination. They gradually shape thoughts and attitudes on an almost subconscious level. Perhaps Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak states this condition most succinctly in her essay "The Burden of English" when she writes, "Literature buys your assent in an almost clandestine way...for good or ill, as medicine or poison, perhaps always a bit of both"(137). By examining Shakespeare's "The Tempest" and Cesaire's "A Tempest", the diabolic and diagnostic functions of language and literature can be explored. Both plays place characters who are foreign to each other in equally unknown and foreign environments. Shakespeare allows Prospero the sorcerer to dominate his foreign environment and all who inhabit it, while Caliban in Cesaire's play uses the foreign language of his master, Prospero, to stage an open revolt. Placed within a post-colonial context, Cesaire ultimately expands upon the actions and characters created by Shakespeare in order to posit a plausible modern explanation for the role of language and literature in the progression from fictional to actual, all too real, colonies.

            Slavery is a central issue in both plays, especially in defining the relationship between Prospero and Caliban. Prospero, a European of high social and intellectual stature, is placed within an unfamiliar and hostile environment. Caliban befriends Prospero and gives him the necessary skills to survive. In return, Prospero teaches Caliban an European language. Ironically, this knowledge of language provides the basis for both slavery and revolt. Though physically enslaved because of an attempted rape, Shakespeare's Caliban understands that language itself is a greater prison, a plague. Caliban resents Prospero's tyranny; he is only able to articulate his resentment, however, through his learned language. "You taught me language and my profit on't/ Is, I know how to curse" (363-4). Shakespeare's Caliban, though,  is concerned as much with revenge as he is his own freedom. Through his ability to speak a European tongue, Caliban is able to persuade Stephano and Trinculo to attempt to overthrow Prospero. In the end, the attempt fails miserably. Caliban begs for forgiveness and Prospero's power is essentially unchallenged. Prospero as teacher, slave owner, father, and Duke dictates the outcome of the play.

            Cesaire's Caliban uses the same tool, language given to him by Prospero, to subvert Prospero's power and to win his freedom. Like the original, the contemporary Caliban realizes that his education is a sinister form of slavery. Learning Prospero's language means learning to understand and obey orders. He even attributes his alleged attempted rape of Miranda to his education, claiming, "you're the one...

Find Another Essay On tempcolon Comparing Language in Shakespeare's Tempest and Aime Cesaire's A Tempest

tempcolon Essay on European Colonization in The Tempest

2096 words - 8 pages analyses, can reveal the underlying clues within The Tempest that will help us understand Shakespeare's conceptualization of the events and characters in his play.             English colonization in North America, what would eventually establish our beloved United States of America, has been thought to have influenced England's greatest writers, especially Shakespeare. Evidence is provided through a well-known quote:    Prospero

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

Art and Nature in Shakespeare's The Tempest

1151 words - 5 pages art is weaker and must bend itself to nature. In The Tempest, Shakespeare’s Prospero has gotten himself into trouble by entertaining an insatiable thirst for knowledge.  Prospero’s downfall was brought about because he valued knowledge and art over pure power.  Through Prospero, Shakespeare questions the validity of man’s quest for art and beauty.  However, the question is resolved in the end of the play when Prospero once again becomes a

The Role of Language in Shakespeare's Play The Tempest

1191 words - 5 pages The Role of Language in Shakespeare's Play The Tempest 1 The role of language in Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest” is quite significant. To Miranda and Prospero the use of language is a means to knowing oneself. Caliban does not view language in the same light. Prospero taught Caliban to speak, but instead of creating the feeling of empowerment from language, Caliban reacts in insurrectionary manner. Language reminds him how different he is

Caliban in Shakespeare's The Tempest

1868 words - 7 pages Missing Works Cited The Tempest, considered by many to be Shakespeare’s farewell to the theatre, has of all his plays the most remarkable interpretive richness. The exceptional flexibility of Shakespeare’s stage is given particular prominence in The Tempest due to its originality and analytic potential, in particular in the presentation of one of his most renowned and disputed characters, Caliban. Superficially portrayed in the play as a most

Comparing The Cultures of The Tempest and Ours in The Tempest by William Shakespeare

1106 words - 4 pages Comparing The Cultures of The Tempest and Ours in The Tempest by William Shakespeare "All men are created equal" is one of the declarations that American culture is built on. This declaration means that all men no matter of race, religion, or creed are equals in the eyes of society, as well as the law. This was not always true in history, especially not in Shakespeare's day and age. During this time, society had levels of

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

Romance and Anti-Romance in Shakespeare's The Tempest

2201 words - 9 pages moved to virtuous action. In another critical essay on The Tempest entitled, "Shakespeare: Dream and Tempest," the deeper meanings of the language of the play and its connection to the innermost meanings is discussed in greater detail. Language was once understood to be a constant throughout the world, and still is today. Although languages differ, most meanings can remain. Most of Shakespeare's work is done in verse - and then some is done in

Opposition between Art and Reality in Shakespeare's The Tempest

1181 words - 5 pages Opposition between Art and Reality in The Tempest       The Tempest is a self-reflexive play that explores the boundaries of art and reality. Shakespeare's island is a realm controlled by the artist figure; where the fabulous, the ideal and the imaginative are presented as both illusory and palpable, and where the audience is held in an indeterminate state, a "strange repose". The juxtaposition of the world of art with political and

Apparitions and the Supernatural in Shakespeare's The Tempest

2326 words - 9 pages     What immediately strikes the audience about The Tempest is the use of the supernatural in the form of apparitions like Ariel and the Harpy. These apparitions are under Prospero's authority and the result of his Art, which is the disciplined use of virtuous knowledge. By invoking a masque to celebrate the betrothal of Ferdinand and Miranda, Prospero effectively brings to full circle the theme of re-generation by obliterating the evil done

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

Similar Essays

Tempcolon Confronting Colonialism And Imperialism In Aime Cesaire's A Tempest

1422 words - 6 pages Confronting Colonialism in A Tempest     A Tempest by Aime Cesaire is an attempt to confront and rewrite the idea of colonialism as presented in Shakespeare’s The Tempest.  He is successful at this attempt by changing the point of view of the story.  Cesaire transforms the characters and transposes the scenes to reveal Shakespeare’s Prospero as the exploitative European power and Caliban and Ariel as the exploited natives.  Cesaire’s A

The Misunderstood Message Of Aime Cesaire's A Tempest

1988 words - 8 pages The Misunderstood Message of Aime Cesaire's A Tempest         A Tempest, by Aime Cesaire, has been the center of controversy for over twenty years now.  The argument is not concerning whether the play has substance, or whether its themes are too racy; the criticism is about its parallel to another work.  The work in question is that of The Tempest by William Shakespeare.  Cesaire has been bluntly accused of mirroring, misrepresenting, and

Aime Cesaire's The Tempest As A Critique Of Colonialism

1042 words - 4 pages Aime Cesaire's play A Tempest, written in 1969, was written in a time of increasing pressure for decolonization and black civil and national rights. Following, World War II colonial peoples set about to reinvent their futures as all the great nations were in some way disconcerted by the war. Anti-colonial leaders saw an opportunity to make nations of their colonies. Cesaire promoted decolonization throughout his life being one of the key figures

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