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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 remaining under the control of his native land.  If Prospero represents the colonist, or the white man, then Caliban serves as his counterpart in this discussion.  Critics have argued in the past that The Tempest's representation of Caliban relates Caliban to the black man, because Caliban, like African Americans of early times, is conquered and forced into slavery against his will.  Caliban thus becomes a representative of the colonized man.  Critics have pointed out that this device seems to fit the bill because of the Caribbean like location of the play; it is foreign and strange and not the native home of the white man who comes to discover it and claim it as his own.  At the same time, if the audience takes this interpretation to light, Prospero thus emerges as the white man, or the colonist.  Caliban thus serves to represent native cultures, while Prospero serves to represent colonizing cultures, like the British of Shakespeare's time.  The parallel of Prospero's domination of Caliban as compared to the Europeans colonization of the Africans, which was a topic of Shakespeare's time, becomes relevant upon closer examination.

 

This interpretation can be found within the consistent arguments between Prospero and Caliban.  Prospero feels the island is his; he rightfully won it fro...


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... they were the original owners of the island, without the power to regain the island or their native land, they will never have the ability to be able to call the land solely their own again.

 

Works Cited

Brown, Paul.  "This thing of darkness I acknowledge mine: The Tempest and the discourse of colonialism."  New York: Collimore and Sinfield, 1985.  pp. 48-71.

Davis, Angela.  Women, Race and Class.  London: Women's Press, 1982.

Fanon, Frantz.  Black Skins, White Masks.  London: Pluto Press, 1986.

Griffiths, Trevor.  "This island's mine: Caliban and Colonialism."  Yearbook of English Studies 13.  New York: Harcourt Brace.  Pp. 159-80.

Mannoni, O., Prospero and Caliban: The Psycholgoy of Colonization.  New York: Praeger, 1964.

Nixon, Rob.  "Caribbean and African appropriations of The Tempest."  Critical Inquiry 13 Spring 1987 pp. 557-77.


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