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Exploring the theme of enslavement in The Tempest

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English Coursework: The Tempest Shakespeare wrote most of his tragedies in the early seventeenth century. The Tempest was written around the year of 1611 when drama was beginning to become more political. It is said that this was the last play Shakespeare wrote and for this reason many critics believe the theme and plot of the play have an underlying, hidden meaning. I wish to explore is the theme of enslavement tied to the relationship between Prospero and Caliban within The Tempest and explore the link with colonialism. The theme of colonialism is prominent in the play, particularly in relationship between Prospero, the Coloniser and Caliban, the Colonised. Shakespeare uses a lot of dramatic methods to bring this theme to life. The slavery industry was closely linked to colonialism and understanding of this contemporary topic is crucial in the way one reads the play. There was a notable visit to London by the black-skinned ambassador of the King of Barbary in 1600-1601. It caused quite a stir in society and a lot of critics claim, provided considerable material for the writing of 'Othello'. It is possible this furthermore provided Shakespeare with ideas for the tempest. ...read more.


With raven's feather from unwholesome fen ... Drop you both!" encourage a reaction from Prospero; he uses his magic to inflict "Side-stitches". As we know, Caliban was born by Sycorax when she arrived on the island and that Ariel was imprisoned by her for 12 years until Prospero came and broke her spell. It is now 12 years since Prospero's arrival, so Caliban is probably 24 years old. In Act 1 Scene 2, there is textual evidence of a strong past relationship between Caliban and Prospero; Caliban remembers how the magician "strok'st me, and made much of me" when he first arrived. However, a dramatic contrast is shown by the fact that their initial relationship has deteriorated as Prospero, in a tone of frustration, speaks of how he gave "humane care" for Caliban, but Caliban "thanked" him by attempting to violate his daughter. The relationship of Prospero and Caliban can also be judged in scenes which they are not present together. For example, Act 2 Scene 2 begins with Caliban cursing Prospero. The dramatic method of soliloquy is used in Caliban's opening words, "All the infections that the Sun sucks up ... ...read more.


But despite this, Prospero remains in complete power. And even in the last scene, Caliban is still only recognised as a way of making money, as Antonio keeps expressing an interest in the "marketable" value of him. However, I've already spoken about the fact that Caliban may well be an ungrateful beneficiary of Prospero's teachings and I myself agree with this. Some may argue that colonialism is wrong, but the human race would not be what it is today if colonialism hadn't taken place. I would argue that the only thing Prospero was guilty of was trying to enhance Caliban's life by enabling him to communicate properly with other beings. And again, without communication, or world today would not be as we know it. I believe colonialism was a necessary step that the human race needed in order to develop as a species and one which has had a great effect on people everywhere. In my opinion, as long as we continue to try to educate each other, there is no limit as to what mankind can achieve. "...in the Tempest Period, man is master of the universe. And - what is here essential - this masterhood of Nature is accompanied by a supreme moral goodness to fellow-man." - Sidney Lanier, 1880. ?? ?? ?? ?? Steven Blundell, 13 Stevenson Page | 1 ...read more.

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