A Tempest and Post-Colonialism

In The Tempest, Shakespeare alludes to the possibility of an ideal Utopia; being both the bad and good so the audience can realize the problems that would develop in such a society.The Tempest acts as a medium in which common man can observe the inner works of such a place, portraying the social inquiry and belief of how a utopia would look. Where perhaps Shakespeare falls short in his vision of utopia is in his focus on the colonizer.

The message ultimately informed not that of tragic struggle of the tyrannized, but the personal growth of a tyrant, the story of rising above his own tyrannical ways. Cesaire’s A Tempest, was a sort of“translation” from Shakespeare’s play. Adaptation, a retelling of the classic story from the oppressed point of view. He knew by adapting The Tempest in his own works, he would reach a greater audience, raising the brow of the western world to the oppression the black world faces. The story the slave’s bit back at the hand of their ruler, a megalomaniacal, capricious, malevolent, slave driving bully. In Shakespeare’s version, Caliban’s name, the anagram of the word “can(n)ibal” which generates negative connotations, discouraging the audience’s sympathy for the character nor for the fate of the people like him.

The world inhabited by Prospero and the rest of the European characters is “new” only to them. They believe they have entered a blank slate. That same world is home to Caliban: yet, he does not have the ability to sustain a strong enough narrative to rival that of his masters.

From the moment contact is made, he is at an immediate disadvantage: he can only express his displeasures in a borrowed tongue. In Cesaire’s theatrical version, Caliban responds fiercely to this intrusion: his dismay is unmistakable in the way he abuses Prospero’s language in an order to make room for his own reality. His mission is not easy: reconstructing his cultural history from the maste..

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