The Tempest By William Shakespeare English Literature Essay

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In the mid-twentieth century, criticism began to explore different levels of action and meaning, focusing on such themes as illusion versus reality, freedom versus slavery, revenge versus forgiveness, time, and self-knowledge. Through different playwrights, in Retelling, MB Clarke and AG Clarke give us a wide-angled perspective of postcolonial and anti-colonialism adaptation. While in "The Tempest", William Shakespeare shows the importance of knowledge and justice which bring human beings to a higher reality and positive reconciliation in which we find an "ideal king"; in "A Tempest", Aime Cesaire uses racial identity and self-determination to illustrate a "wonderful world" in which everyone, regardless of his race, can be an "ideal king".

In The Tempest, Shakespeare sees an ideal king as an intelligent person who can bring justice and harmony to the island. Though Caliban's behavior is more closely aligned to the beast than to a man, thus he must be controlled in a similar manner; However, Prospero uses Caliban "with human care; and lodged" him in his "own cell", and his daughter, Miranda, "took pain" to teach him master's language "each hour" (1:2:357). With hope he will become more human and be educated person, both Prospero and Miranda try to educate Caliban in their own way, but Prospero utters the bitterest lines in the play when his fallen creature "Caliban" trying to rape his only girl Miranda "…thou didst seek to violate/ The honour of my child."(1:2:352-354) by "trying to rape" Miranda, Caliban makes it clear to audiences that he is a beast with the basic instinct to satisfy what he wants. Furthermore, he has lost the friendly relationship with his master, and also lost connection with higher education which can bring him to a higher position on his island as well. While Caliban ignores the fact that the generous master Prospero forgives and still keeps him in his "cell", he keeps on complaining and seeking any single chance to revenge Prospero. In fact, Prospero wants Caliban to learn from him, to be more human because at the end, no one will be the master of the universe, and the revenge is not the answer for everything, people have to move to higher reality, to bring happiness and harmony for people.

Prospero illustrates these qualities when he puts not only Caliban to work, but also Ferdinand , a prince to work. Both carry logs, one as a slave, unwillingly out of fear, the other as a love-slave who finds his duties "light…/ Might I but through my prison once a day/ Behold this maid." (1.2.492-493) Prospero uses his power wisely to put everyone, regardless his race or social status, to work at the same time. Instead of using his power to revenge, to put other people's lives to hell, Prosperso forgives his brother Antonio "For [Antonio], most wicked sir, whom to call brother/would even infect my mouth, I do forgive," (5:1:130-131) his fallen creature Caliban "Go to. Away!"(5:1:297) and release Ariel to freedom "Bravely, my diligence. Thou shalt be free." (5:1:244) Through Prospero, Shakespeare makes his statement about wonderful world where everyone contributes to the happiness and forgive each other. As the colonizer, Prospero is in a position of power not only because of his magic arsenal, but especially by virtue of his ability to manage and put everything in order to make a wonderful world and bring happiness to people.

At the first sign, language is clearly used as a tool of exploitation; however, Prospero uses language differences in the play to set the standard in the society. On one side, Caliban claims he has learned to curse because Prospero taught him language, but there is also a subtle sense in which Prospero has been deeply wounded by his failure to raise up a higher Caliban when the "original" Prospero also unambiguously admits that "We cannot miss him [Caliban]." (1.2.311) Caliban is not only seen as a slave behind the cell, but also a member in Prospero's family where everyone contributes to the well-being and happiness of the family as whole. On the other side, Caliban knows that to regain control of his island he must first gain control of Prospero's "books," that is, achieve a fluent literacy in Prospero's society. Caliban's attempt to reestablish his "gabbling" as the language of the island, a language in which he knew himself as king, ends in failure, as his last words to Prospero

"Ay, that I will; and I'll be wise hereafter

And seek for grace. What a thrice-double ass

Was I, to take this drunkard for a god

And worship this dull fool!" (5:1:294-298)

Caliban has indeed learned something of Prospero's language, but it is clear that Caliban will use that language only to express his servitude to Prospero. By renouncing his magic, freeing Ariel to return to the elements, and leaving Caliban to regain harmony with his world, Prospero gives audiences the harmony between humans and nature.

In A Tempest, Cesaire sees everyone can be an ideal king as long as he has racial identity and self-determination. Caliban, however, is not mute before meeting Prospero; indeed, he has his own language. For instance, he uses the Swahili word "unhuru" which means "freedom"; as Caliban clarifies, Prospero "didn't teach me a thing! Except to jabber in your own language so that I could understand your orders chop the wood, wash the dishes, fish for food, plant vegetables."(1:2:113-115). Furthermore, Caliban has an awareness to defend to what belongs to him by using his own language as a protest, identifying himself with his own land and "Dead or alive, she was my mother, and I won't deny her,"(1:2:124) and renouncing the insulting name "Caliban" given by Prospero "Call me X. That would be best. Like a man without a name. Or, to be more precise, a man whose name has been stolen," (1:2:181-182) he echoes Malcolm X in saying, "Call me X. That would be best. Like a man without a name. Or, to be more precise, a man whose name has been stolen . . . Every time you call me it reminds me of a basic fact, the fact that you've stolen everything from me, even my identity!" (Fei 18). By illustrate a strong Caliban who has self-identity and self-determination, Cesaire moves Caliban to a higher reality where he can be an "ideal king' in his own island.

As an African black who received French education, Cesaire found that what colonization has taken away from him is not only land, but also his language, culture and identity. Through Caliban and Ariel, Fei writes "Cesaire shows in the play his attitude toward colonization and delivers his idea of Negritude." Therefore, A Tempest is Cesaire's call for racial identity, self-determination and freedom. Prospero presents above all as exploitative usurper of the island and Caliban and Ariel's self-determination. He takes the island away from Caliban in spite of Caliban's hospitality and friendliness, as Caliban accuses, "Once you've squeezed the juice from the orange, you toss the rind away!"(1:2:146) More importantly, by making Caliban his slave, Prospero deprives Caliban of what he is, in Caliban's words, "the fact that you've stolen everything from me, even my identity! Uhhuru!"(1:2:185) Actually he has never treated Caliban as a human being. By belittling everything about the colonized people, the colonizer thinks himself as a savior and tries to impose his language and values on them. Prospero enslaves Caliban and Ariel but appears as their benefactor "You didn't teach me a thing! Except to jabber in your own language so that I could understand your orders: chop the wood, wash the dishes, fish for food, plant vegetables."(1:2:113-115) He teaches Caliban his language so that Caliban can understand his orders. Caliban rejects Prospero's claim to have turned him from a beast into a speaking being; rather having been without language, Caliban had not spoken the language in which his enslaver gives order.

Ariel, represents the intellectual, represents for Cesaire's uplifting dream world in which everyone can live like brothers and everyone is significant in his own way. Unlike Shakespeare's Ariel who is obedient to Prospero and seems to care nothing but his own freedom, Ariel in A Tempest is less willingly in carrying out Prospero's missions and he also makes this known to Prospero. He shows sympathy for the victims of Prospero's tempest. He even reproaches Prospero for his "despotism" in manipulating the group of hungry courtiers - "It's evil to play with their hunger as you do with their anxieties and their hopes," (p28) he comments. But Ariel never turns too bitter toward Prospero, hoping Caliban and he could force him "to acknowledge his own injustice and put an end to it." (p22). He sees there is a need for Caliban and him to join up and fight for their freedom, but in some non-violent way since.

Through "The Tempest" and "A Tempest", Shakespeare and Cesaire make their own statement about dream world where everyone, regardless his race and identity, can live happily together. While Shakespeare puts Prospero to a higher reality with knowledge and justice, Cesaire directs audience to native people Caliban who has strong race-identity and self-determination; from a wide perspective and from different time, Shakespeare and Cesaire build a "Tempest" where everyone will go through a learning process to come to greater self-knowledge.