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Can the tempest be read as colonial literature? What do you think of Shakespeare's attitude to the native people of America (represented by Caliban)?

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Kongpob Muangsiri BS 354 Empire in British and American History and Literature. Instructor: Aj. Steve Adams ID.4306640428 Can the tempest be read as colonial literature? What do you think of Shakespeare's attitude to the native people of America (represented by Caliban)? As we are reminded by the greatness of many different civilizations and countries all around the world by the documented histories. I believe that no one would ever leave out the British in a historical discussion, especially during the colonial periods. It is one of the most interesting period that is often discussed in many class rooms. Of course one of the most famous colonist documented in human history would have to be the British. They have had their share of good times and bad times, especially during the course of building their great British Empire. Through out the period of colonialism, the British founded the newfound land, which is present day America. However, colonizing America wasn't as easy as they thought it would be. One of the main obstacle that the British had to overcome was taking care of the original settlers, the native American Indians. The natives prove to be quite a problem for them because the British had to find ways to trick the natives in giving them land. They did what ever was necessary, even killing the natives. Further more, the first group of pioneers had this idea that they had a sort of divine right to own and make use of the precious land. ...read more.


Setting up new rules and regulations, and taking away their lands. Caliban Speech in Act 1 Scene 2 clearly talks about this issue: "When thou cam'st first Thou strok'st me and made much of me; wouldst give me Water with berries in't, and teach me how To name the bigger light, and how the less, That burn by day and night. And then I loved thee And showed thee all qualities o'th'isle, The fresh springs, brine-pits, barren place and fertile..." From the quote, we could see that the relationship between Prospero and Caliban was great when they first met just like it was between the white settlers and natives. The settlers were treated with respect by the natives but later took advantage and exploited the once friendly natives, destroying the beautiful bond they had at the beginning. Just like the colonists, Prospero wanted to take control of the whole island and take advantage of Caliban: "For I am all the subjects that you have, Which first was mine own king; and here you sty me In this hard rock, whiles you do keep from me The rest o'th'island." Again and again, the theme of colonialism pops up very often throughout the play. Miranda, daughter of Prospero, is another character who is represented as another colonist who attempts to educate the natives as she taught Caliban her language, seen her in Act 1 Scene 2: "You taught me language, and my profit on't Is, I know how to curse. ...read more.


However, another way to look at it is that Shakespeare is trying to portray that in the end the colonists themselves would have to leave and return to where they came from and leave the natives alone. Just like Prospero sets Caliban and Ariel free and leave them to live naturally. In conclusion, I think that Shakespeare's "The Tempest" strongly portrays the idea of colonialism. Prospero is the colonist who invades the lands of the native Caliban and later takes advantage of Caliban and turns him into his slave, which is similar to what the white colonists did to the native Indians. As for Ariel, he can be portrayed as the indentured servants during the early colonization. Lastly, I think that not only is Shakespeare showing us the greed of the colonist at the time but also how the colonists benefited from the natives, land and resources. Then after they have had enough of it like Prospero has, the colonists leaves the land, freeing the natives but already used up most of the resources. I believe that this idea can be adapted and compared to human nature as we are natural consumers that take granted for the valuable resources we have at hand. Another idea seen in the play that indicates the nature and typical behavior of most colonists is the selfishness amongst the colonists themselves. It was when Trinculo and Stephano planned to kill Prospero in order to rule the island. So, with the supporting ideas that I have mentioned earlier I believe that "The Tempest", a great play by William Shakespeare, can be read as a colonial literature. ...read more.

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