But The Tempest is also a Christian romance, resonant with images of perdition and paradise, sin and redemption, grace and resurrection. Denying Renaissance culture the unique expression of its fears, dreams, and mythologies, they simultaneously reinscribe it with postmodern, neurotic, skeptical, and politically-driven cultural attitudes and assumptions. The postcolonial critic, denying ontological mobility and eschewing hierarchy as repressive, collapses this understanding, methodically plotting along a hermeneutical line that levels distinction.
What information we have from the culture reinforces that Caliban was not viewed as postcolonial critics represent him. Meredith Anne Skura explains:. As Alden T. Ariel is also intelligent, loyal, innocent, and capable of the best attributes of human sympathy and the desire for justice.
If, as so much postcolonial criticism suggests, Shakespeare intended to romanticize a native, why is Ariel never seriously considered? Despite his invisibility to the critics, he is all too real to the characters he alternately goads and chastens.
Postcolonial Theory in William Shakespeare’s The Tempest
He is unequivocally not human, yet working sympathetically toward the same ends as Prospero. Like Caliban, Ariel is never referred to as human, not by himself or by any character he encounters. And unlike Caliban, Ariel clearly possessed language, culture, and associate spirits before Prospero freed him from the torment of the tree. As a result of this ontological inevitability, Ariel cannot be coopted, reduced, or reassigned as colonized by any but the most vigorously anachronistic postcolonial arguments. However easy it might be to refute the argument that Ariel is a victim of colonial cruelty, such a reading is infinitely more plausible than one that seeks to establish Caliban as anticolonialist hero.
In postcolonial readings, Prospero is undisputedly the primary villain of the play, and yet very little is made of the relationship between Prospero and Ariel along colonial lines. But then he freed Ariel to the winds ahead of schedule, without subsequent entanglements.
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And yes, Ariel grumbled initially about the length of his service, but quickly recanted when reminded of the torment endured at the hands of Sycorax. Further, Ariel seems genuinely attached to Prospero, shares his vision of justice, and in expectation of freedom is correspondent to command while doing his spriting gently.
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To entertain a postcolonial reading that replaces Caliban with Ariel, affording him privileged subaltern status, poses another conundrum of which postcolonial critics want no part. If Ariel is human native and not ethereal spirit, then it is not Prospero but the Algerian Sycorax and her African confederates—by default Setebos and the other malevolent spirits must be human, too—who colonize, torture, and enslave Ariel:. And, for thou wast a spirit too delicate To act her earthy and abhorred commands, Refusing her grand hests, she did confine thee, By help of her more potent ministers And in her most unmitigable rage, Into a cloven pine, within which rift Imprisoned thou didst painfully remain A dozen years… 1.
Colonialism and Post-Colonialism in The Tempest
This is as concise and graphic a description of colonization as appears in Renaissance drama, replete with cultural arrogance, extortion, torture, and unjust imprisonment. From this perspective, the colonization is a work of North African infamy, requiring perhaps a supplemental poetics of Occidentalism, not Orientalism. And it is the European Prospero who redresses colonial evil, freeing Ariel, abandoning the island, and unconditionally renouncing all claims over its inhabitants.
Of course, such an extended reading strategy is unappealing to our postcolonial critics, whose ideological imperatives inhibit them from exploring colonialism outside Western culture.
This brings us to Prospero, for his unjust demotion must follow the unwarranted elevation of Caliban as night follows day. Far from abetting colonialism, Prospero—himself a victim of usurpation, dispossession, and banishment, cast upon the island as a refugee—frees Ariel from colonialist torment inflicted by Sycorax, then thwarts the mock-colonialist conspiracy of Caliban. In many respects, Prospero is the ultimate colonialist stereotype: the wizened, gray-bearded autocrat—domineering, crafty, prudish and priggish, more taciturn and British than genial and Italian—a cross between Colonel Mustard and Gandalf in short pants and pith helmet examining the troops before the battle of Plassey.
For all the wishful thinking invested in the romantic reimagining of Caliban, recasting Prospero as villain is as important for postcolonial approaches to The Tempest , since Prospero fits the negative stereotypes of colonizer more easily than Caliban can be reclaimed as sympathetic native. However, although brusque, Prospero is benevolent, his considerable power cloaked in mercy and restraint. Caliban does not deny the humane care he first received from Prospero and Miranda, and concedes his attempted rape brought about the change in relations. We must remember that Prospero restricts the freedoms of Caliban only after he seeks to ravish Miranda:.
Quick to concoct elaborate backstory and ahistorical justifications indemnifying Caliban from the assault, postcolonial critics are remarkably unimaginative when it comes to the unmentioned specifics of the attempted rape. Assuming Prospero foiled the attack, is it not worthwhile to pause and imagine the scene? A father comes upon his daughter under assault, the perpetrator that strange, demi-human creature he brought to live in the cell alongside her.
This is the recompense for the care lavished on the brute? So why keep Caliban alive? As with all the sinful characters, Prospero keeps them close with the Christian objective of improving them through restraint, abnegation, and redemptive suffering—a motive he is not at liberty to divulge even to Miranda, who, although virtuous, must also undergo moral refinement. What does Caliban suffer that comes close to torture or genuine slavery?
Beginning Shakespeare. Manchester: Manchester UP, In this chapter in her larger book, Hopkins provides a useful overview into some theoretic questions and assumptions about examining Shakespeare through a postcolonial lens. Defining the enterprise as an acceptance of colonization and Shakespeare's "axiomatic" participation in such discourses of colonialism. However, Hopkins also pinpoints problems in the study, citing the Shakespeare's plays are used to reinforce conservative ideologies of colonialism AND that we may not be able to really understand colonial domination so how useful is this analytic approach?
After these introductory remarks, Hopkins uses the Tempest to examine how postcolonial theory treats Shakespeare, drawing HEAVILY on Brown's article, and then goes through objections to Brown and the state of the current scholarship. Hopkins essentially argues that, in regards to reading Shakespeare and specifically, the Tempest postcolonially, it isn't so important to historicize, but to determine the role the text has played since its historical moment.
Differing Reading On ' The Tempest '
Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, What are some of the current trends and problems in postcolonial scholarship? McDonald answers this question in his introductory chapter to a series of critical essays on The Tempest and Othello. The preface is an incredibly useful introduction to the field in that it crystallizes some key problems: how do we "read" Shakespeare globally? How do responses to Shakespeare produce a "hybridity" , or, the liberated subject of colonialism who cannot escape the language of the oppressor?
How is Shakespeare a cultural force that has been used by colonizer and colonised alike? Finally, why is such attention paid to The Tempest and Othello , and what about the other texts? Graff, Gerald and James Phelan. Boston: St. Graff and Phelan's edition of The Tempest is a natural starting point in the study of postcolonial Shakespeare because it combines the text of Shakespeare's most postcolonial-minded work, along with a battery of informational texts that include: historical primary sources that reflect imperialist rationale as well as Shakespeare's source material, short essays that frame why we should or shouldn't read texts under a postcolonialist lens, and finally, the very critics and essays that create this so called critical controversy.
This is a good text for the balanced critic—one who cannot commit to a postcolonial study of Shakespeare's work without first pondering the limitations or even the validity of doing so. To that end, one can read about both sides of the critical controversy in successive sections and decide for themselves whether or not they agree that postcolonial theory's appropriation of Shakespeare produces something worth studying further, or pursuing in their own classroom.
Greenblatt, Stephen. Graff, Gerald and. James Phelan. Martin's, Will, George. Though this exchanged is framed in the context of 90's politics, their respective arguments for and against these types of readings are useful to us 20 years later because they state, rather concisely, both sides of a continuing debate about why we should, or shouldn't, read things so politically. Future educators should be exposed to both sides of this debate should they want to position their pedagogical approach to their own political views, or their particular teaching context.
In Will's view, this less-idealistic view of our written culture had invaded our intelligentsia, and threatened to spread these ambivalent feelings to the youth graduating from their institutions.
Rather than fearing this emphasis on political readings, educators should embrace it as a pathway to learning and inquiry. Bartels, Emily. Bartels suggests that while the racial epithets pervading the first act might entice readers to believe that Othello's race plays predominantly in his "othering," she also suggests that the "indecent" rhetoricity of the white characters especially in the vulgarity of Desdemona and Iago's courtship represents a much more nuanced portrait of postcolonialism, one that might escape the strict binary limitations that much PC scholarship maintains: the white v.sremchopzulanlu.ml
"Decolonizing Shakespeare: Race, Gender, and Colonialism in Three Adapt" by Angela Eward-Mangione
While Postcolonialism does attempt to draw new lines between these binary oppositions redistributing power , a real problem with the critical lens is that it doesn't really interrogate the power-relations at play in these fundamental oppositions. De Sousa, Geraldo U. What does Brazil, Shakespeare and racial sensitivity have in common? In this essay, De Sousa examines the first Brazilian production of Merchant of Venice staged by the Cia Artistica Limite on May 15, , as an example of the appropriation of Shakespeare as the new theatre icon of Brazil.