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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BS 354  Empire in British and American History and Literature

Kongpob Muangsiri

BS 354 Empire in British and

American History and Literature.

Instructor: Aj. Steve Adams


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. It was something that they believe that natives didn’t have the right to. This was the beginning of a long history of colonialism, slavery and conflict between the British and the natives on the newfound land of America.

As great as the history sounds, many writers have written about this issue and one of British's most famous writer during this time would have to be William Shakespeare.  A great poet and writer, William Shakespeare wrote "the Tempest" in 1613, and it was to be his last play. The Tempest is basically a story about a magical island, which during Shakespeare's time would be compared to the Bermudas. For many years there have been a lot of criticisms about the play and its themes whether it is a type of colonial literature or not. In the following I will try to discuss and analyze whether the play "The Tempest" could be seen as a colonial literature or not.

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In Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”, Prospero, a main character, is compared to be a colonist who tries to civilize the natives, which is represented by another character named Caliban.  From the start and till the ending Prospero seen as the care taker of the island just as the colonist were during the colonial period. As for his relationship with Caliban, an ugly creature living on the island, it can be compared to the relationship between the British settlers and the natives. It is a relationship between a master and a slave. Prepero has full authority over Caliban. Caliban himself is ...

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