• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
Page
  1. 1
    1
  2. 2
    2
  3. 3
    3
  4. 4
    4
  5. 5
    5
  6. 6
    6
  7. 7
    7
  8. 8
    8
  9. 9
    9
  10. 10
    10
  11. 11
    11
  12. 12
    12

The Significance of Colonialism in William Shakespeare's The Tempest (1610/11), Thomas More's Utopia (1516) and John Smith's A Map of Virginia (1612).

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

The Significance of Colonialism in William Shakespeare's The Tempest (1610/11), Thomas More's Utopia (1516) and John Smith's A Map of Virginia (1612). Whether it is all consuming character of Prospero, the vainglorious superiority of the Utopians or the savage greed of the first English Virginian colonists; there is a common will exercised in these three literary texts: conquer and take all. It is my aim in this essay to prove how an underlying theme of colonialism is being operated and advocated in these three texts, as a means of the progression and enrichment of a society specifically European and even more specifically white and English. To attempt to discuss the discourse of colonialism in these texts, it is important to locate them in the historical and political climate of the time. During the late 16th and early 17th centuries, England was experiencing a vast array of problems, both internally and externally. The foremost of these were a 'private-enterprise seaborne war against Spain' (James 5), and a litany of potentially subversive Catholics resident within England itself - and of course the newly acquired issue of overpopulation. 'An influential group of English courtiers and councillors, including the Earl of Leicester, Sir Francis Walsingham and Sir Walter Raleigh', (James 5) saw the vision of an expansionist Empire across the sea in the 'New World' as the solution to many of these difficulties. Many plays, pamphlets and images were circulated which accorded with these aspirations. In fact, accounts of the miraculous survival of members of the company of the 'Sea Adventure', wrecked off Bermuda in 1609, are said to have provided Shakespeare with an immediate source for The Tempest (Tmp) (Brown 48), and there is much evidence to suggest that Shakespeare had America 'in mind' when writing this play as, the spirit, Ariel's songs are seen to be based 'on Algonquian dances and intended Caliban to be representative Indian and Prospero a planter'. ...read more.

Middle

The magical power that Prospero holds never comes into question for he is a white male and even though his sorcery too is evil and causes harm, he is protected by the colonial hegemony he has established upon the island. Thus Prospero establishes a colonial power which is specifically white and male. He goes to great pains to enroot this belief by reminding the spirit Ariel of the cruel life enforced upon him by the island's old queen: This damned witch Sycorax, / For mischiefs manifold and sorceries terrible / To enter human hearing, from Algiers / Thou know'st was banished-for one thing she did / They would not take her life...Thou, my slave, / As thou report'st thyself, was then her servant,...Refusing her grand hests, she did confine thee...Into a cloven pine (Shakespeare 1.2.264-277). Prospero sees himself as superior and therefore reasonable in his enslavement of Caliban; because of Caliban's assumed physical defects, his lineage from the corrupt witch Sycorax and his uncivilised behaviour. Prospero has confined Caliban on the 'hard rock' (Shakespeare 1.2.343) because of an unsuccessful attempt to rape Miranda, but previous to this act, Prospero and Miranda had attempted to educate and civilise Caliban - with disappointing results. Abhorred slave, / Which any print of goodness wilt not take, / Being capable of all ill! I pitied thee, / Took pains to make thee speak, taught thee each hour ...but wouldst gabble like / A thing most brutish... But thy vile race- / Though thou didst learn-had that in't which good natures / Could not abide to be with ; therefore wast thou / Deservedly confined into this rock, / Who hadst deserved more than a prison. (Shakespeare 1.2.350-361). Caliban is a failure at learning properly the language that Miranda has gone to such great pains to teach him. Prospero once even once 'lodged thee/ In mine own cell, till thou didst seek to violate / The honour of my child' (Shakespeare 1.2.346-348). ...read more.

Conclusion

The Utopians regard slavery as a normal part of their culture, and similar to Prospero's chastisement of Caliban, use it as 'the punishment even of the greatest crimes; for as that is no less terrible to the criminals themselves than death, so they think the preserving them in a state of servitude is more for the interest of the commonwealth than killing them; since as their labour is a greater benefit to the public than their death could be, so the sight of their misery is a more lasting terror to other men than that which would be given by their death. If their slaves rebel, and will not bear their yoke and submit to the labour that is enjoined them, they are treated as wild beasts that cannot be kept in order, neither by a prison nor by their chains, and are at last put to death'. (More 35). 'Another sort of slaves are the poor of the neighbouring countries, who offer of their own accord to come and serve them; they treat these better, and use them in all other respects as well as their own countrymen, except their imposing more labour upon them, which is no hard task to those that have been accustomed to it.' (More 33). A form of communal living presides in the countryside, people living together in 'country families', which consist of no ' fewer than forty men and women in it, besides two slaves' (More 17). All of the most menial and unpleasant tasks of Utopian life are performed by these slaves, such as the slaughter and butchering of animals, for 'they suffer none of their citizens to kill their cattle, because they think that pity and good nature...are impaired by the butchering of animals.' (More 23). The Utopians regard themselves as morally and intellectually superior to these slaves, but due to their love of education, take it upon themselves to redeem these slaves through knowledge and pestilence. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level The Tempest section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level The Tempest essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Nature vs. Art in The Tempest

    3 star(s)

    The nature/nurture debate in The Tempest first becomes apparent when we see Prospero's 'nurturing' role as a parent to Miranda. At first, Prospero informs Miranda that she is 'ignorant', and instructs her to 'pluck [his] magic garment from' him. This presents Prospero as a somewhat dominating father figure, who is

  2. Marked by a teacher

    How does Shakespeare ensure that the theme of usurpation and its consequences runs throughout ...

    3 star(s)

    In both groups there is one person who is intelligent while the others are more gormless. Through the way Caliban's speech I believe that Caliban must be quite knowledgeable while Trinculo and Stephano are more half-witted. This also occurs with Antonio and Sebastian.

  1. Discuss the presentation and significance of Caliban in 'The Tempest'

    Caliban is the only one who is not distracted showing that he is single minded and concentrates to the task in hand. This presents Caliban as being more intelligent than Trinculo and Stephano. Caliban's love for nature is also expressed when he retaliates and describes Prospero and the other unnatural

  2. Why is Caliban such an interesting an important character in 'The Tempest' and how ...

    This speech reveals a lot about Caliban. It is written in poetry rather than prose, which shows that he has been nurtured to the extent of learning Prospero and Miranda's language. Dreams seem like the only way that Caliban can escape from his everyday servitude, which is a childish way of thinking.

  1. The Tempest- The Significance of the love story between Ferdinand and Miranda in the ...

    'love', and no other male expresses his feelings of being so desperately in love in his poetic manner.

  2. The Significance of the Island Setting - The Tempest and Robinson Crusoe.

    and Ariel, who is "but air" (I.v.21). Caliban represents evil, as he is part of the earth, making him nearer to hell. He is a "demi-devil" (V.i.272) whose actions are regarded as "being capable of all ill" (I.ii.353) He even attempts to rape Miranda. Opposite from Caliban, Ariel signifies goodness as a "brave spirit" (I.ii.207)

  1. Exploring the theme of enslavement in The Tempest

    - Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1811. At the time of writing The Tempest, only a few hardened seafarers got to travel to the likes of places that the play is set in. 'Foreign' people were unknown to the people of Britain; the very mention of 'foreign' people sparked a fear and curiosity in the British masses.

  2. Miranda Grey and Frederick Clegg are the main characters that are interpreted in the ...

    are meaningless to him - it's the fact that he's got me." (Pg. 161) Due to this, he writes in past tense, as opposed to writing it as the events take place, in which case his final and true justifications (of his actions)

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work