Search This Blog

Monday, April 26, 2010

Oppression in Shakespeare's- The Tempest

The portrayal of Caliban in The Tempest identifies the oppressive nature of Prospero. Not only does Prospero feel that Caliban is indebted to him for the little knowledge he has, but manipulates him for his own end, acting as if it’s beneficial for Caliban. I believe this reveals the oppressive nature of European colonialism that Prospero embodies. Imprisoned on his own island, Caliban is subject to the will of Prospero. Caliban is able to curse because of the knowledge he has gained through Prospero, and is punished even though he didn’t choose to know how to curse. Caliban is tempted to drink and curse solely because of his exposure to both, through his interactions with Prospero. Caliban embodies the innocent native insofar as his misfortunes are the result of his oppression. Shakespeare exposes the oppression of the natives represented by Caliban, and portrays the manipulative power of knowledge, which Prospero possess in books. This parallels the difference in technology that allowed European colonizers to enslave the Africans and oppress them for them generations. Ultimately, Caliban is subject to the will of Prospero, analogous with European colonizers oppression of Africans.

1 comment:

  1. I think I take issue with what you have said on a few counts. Caliban is not necessarily innocent, he conspires with other "colonials" to kill Prospero. I do agree absolutely that he is oppressed, but far from innocent. Another interesting point about Caliban is that he makes the same mistake twice. When he first meets the butler and the other individual he offers them the same things he gave to Prospero before he (Caliban) tried to rape Prospero's daughter.

    Caliban is certainly not innocent, but perhaps that speaks to further prejudice by Shakespeare. He views the Caliban as stupid (making the same mistake twice) and as a savage (trying to rape Miranda). Other than taking issue with your "innocence" claim I agree with what you said insofar as Caliban is oppressed. Otherwise, the reasons and continuation of his oppression is his own fault. Look at Ariel as a character, he is also a native of the island and enslaved, but because of his actions is set free. Again, this is still oppression and bigotry on Shakespeare's part, but maybe Prospero isn't as evil as you say.