The Tempest Vs. European Colonialism Essay

1146 words - 5 pages

Colonialism is an appropriate modem for understanding the Tempest by William Shakespeare because there are many correspondences between the European-African relationship and the American-African relationship. Similar to the American-African relationship where the Europeans are the colonizers and the slaves are the colonized, the European-African relationship has Prospero as the colonizer and Caliban as the colonized.
Caliban holds up the colonialist interpretation of the Tempest partly through the meaning behind his name itself. Small hints like the meanings behind the names of the certain people and places in the play subtly support the colonialist viewpoint. One such name is Caliban’s ...view middle of the document...

However, he could also be of African descent because the play says that his mother came from Algiers which could be interpreted as the modern day Algeria in Africa. Additionally, during Shakespeare’s time slavery was still relevant in daily life, so this could explain why Caliban is seen as a slave. In the Tempest, Prospero is a type of metaphor to the European colonizers who came to America. Prospero can be compared to the colonialists in Europe because of this superior attitude towards Caliban. When Prospero comes to the island, one of the first things he does is that he tries to tame and control Caliban by teaching him the European language and ways of life. Also, when talking to Caliban, Prospero says, “Go then, slave.” This shows how the European colonizers were very insolent and offensive to the Native Americans.
Caliban brings the colonialism interpretation of the Tempest to life because of the way the colonizer, Prospero, treats him. Prospero and Miranda both handle Caliban as if he has no sense, despicable, and incapable of rudimentary human capabilities. There is a mind and body relationship between Caliban and Prospero. ______elaborate_______. Also, initially when Prospero meets Caliban for the first time, Prospero is distantly kind and friendly to him. However, when Caliban tried to rape Miranda and create more little Calibans, Prospero turns him into a slave and says, “I have used thee/ Filth as thou art, with/ human care, and lodged thee/ In mine own cell till thou didst seek to violate/ The honor of my child.” By bringing a rapist aspect to Caliban, Shakespeare allows the reader to connect Caliban to the European idealization that he is a savage who is untamed and uncontrolled in his libidinal tendencies. This can be shown by Miranda’s quote to Caliban which says, “When thou didst not, savage, /Know thine own meaning,/ but wouldst gabble like/ A thing most brutish, I endowed thy purposes/ With words that made them known.” Later in the play, Caliban himself acknowledges that he is inferior and lesser to Prospero and Miranda. However, there are a few ways that anticolonial aspects showed up in the Tempest. After Caliban is taught the European language, he talks just as sophisticatedly as the colonizers and he even learns to curse his masters, saying that by teaching him the language he learned to curse...

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