The Tempest Colonialism Essay

Topics: The Tempest, Colonialism, Colonization Pages: 2 (426 words) Published: March 2, 2015


Colonialism began much earlier with Columbus discovery of America. It was a big issue during Shakespeare’s time. The opening up of new frontiers and new land being discovered stimulated European information. The Tempest explores the complex and problematic relationship between the European colonizer and the native colonised people through the relationship between Prospero and Caliban. Prospero views Caliban as a lesser being than himself. As such, Prospero believes that Caliban should be grateful to him for educating Caliban and lifting him out of "savagery." Shakespeare uses Prospero and Caliban's relationship to show how the misunderstandings between the coloniser and the colonised lead to hatred and conflict, with each side thinking that the other is at fault. When Miranda angrily shouts at Caliban, recalling how she tried to lift him out of savagery by teaching him to speak their language "Know thine own meaning, but wouldn’t gabble like a thing most brutish" (1.2.356). Yet despite this gift of education, Miranda continues, Caliban remained brutal and responds with "You taught me language, and my profit on't is, I know how to curse" (1.2.363), This argument shows colonialism because Miranda believes Caliban owes her a debt of gratitude for trying to civilize him however Caliban sees himself as having been free, and insists he was better off without all the "elevating," which resulted in him losing his independence. Other colonisation themes are raised by Gonzalo's description of his Utopia, from lines 145 to 162 in Act 2, scene 1 – ‘Letters should not be known; riches, poverty, and use of service, none; contraction, succession, bourn, bound of land, tilth, vineyard, none.’ Gonzalo's topics were particularly relevant at the time of the play, because of New World colonisation, and Europeans finally had the chance to start new governments and societies that reflected these idealistic belief. However, Gonzalo's imagining is also self-controlled...
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