Cultural Diversity in The Tempest Essays

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Cultural Diversity in The Tempest

     If we look at Shakespeare's atypically short play The Tempest, the character of Caliban represents a "noble savage" who is enslaved, exploited, and endowed with low-self esteem due to the ethnocentric views of those who encounter him.  In much the same way as the British originally exploited the Hindus or Americans exploited Native Americans, Caliban is considered the "property" of those who encounter him, solely because he is not of the same heritage, customs, and manners of his oppressors. 


The ostracism and exploitation of Caliban because he is perceived as a brutish animal compared to "civilized" folks is in keeping with the theme and intent of the play-to show that reality is more a manifestation of mentality and conscious perception than concrete black and white, definable phenomena.  As one scholar of Elizabethan imagery suggests, "The poet who imitates not the visible world but the intelligible as manifested in the visible will not consider that the use of artifice to emphasize form makes imagery less 'true to nature'" (Scanlan  1).  In The Tempest  we see a great deal of artifice to understand what is manifested in the visible, however, with Caliban we see that all the artifice in the world does not help him be accepted by those who inhabit the island once his own.  Prospero has enslaved the son that Sycorax "did litter" on the island, and his lovely daughter Miranda says of his slave, "'Tis a villain, sir,/I do not love to look on" (Shakespeare  5).


Of course, Prospero says he enslaved Caliban because he tried to coupled with his daughter, however, Caliban, sounding like someone who has had their land and culture stolen from them, replies to this, "O ho,...

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...nce and diversity are often perceived as evil, wrong or somehow inferior in relation to the dominant culture or social norms.  These issues are very timely as we face the increasing globalization of the world and increasing pressures to accept and integrate with diverse cultures.


Works Cited

Baker Siepmann, K.  (ed.)  Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia.  New York, Harper & Row, Publishers, New York, 1987.

Moore, P.  "The Tempest and the Bermuda Shipwreck of 1609."  Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter.  Summer, 1996, 1-2.

Scanlan, R.  "Shakespeare's New World Fantasia."  April 21, 1999, 1-3.

Scanlan, R.  "The Veil of Poetry."  April 21, 1999, 1-2.

Shakespeare, W.  William Shakespeare:  The Complete Works.  New York, Gramercy Books, 1975.

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