Aime Cesaire's A Tempest Clarifies Shakespeare's The Tempest

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Cesaire's A Tempest Clarifies Shakespeare's The Tempest

"Negritude, originally a literary and ideological movement of French-speaking black intellectuals, reflects an important and comprehensive reaction to the colonial situation of European colonization" (Carlberg). This movement, which influenced Africans as well as blacks around the world, specifically rejects the political, social, and moral domination of the West. Leopold Senghor, Leon Damas, and Aime Cesaire are the three pioneers of the revolution. The founder who expresses his ideas more broadly, though, is Cesaire, who uses literary works to express his viewpoint on colonization. An excellent example of such a tactic is his play, A Tempest, which is a revision of William Shakespeare's The Tempest. Both Shakespeare and Cesaire accentuate the greed of Europeans in their plays. However, Cesaire is more obvious in his approach to exposing it. A comparison of the two plays demonstrates that Cesaire's version, written in the late 1960's, is written as a confrontation of Shakespeare's play. He is attempting to comment on the corruption of Colonialism and the European domination of the New World through such strategies as making seemingly minor changes, switching the main character role, and altering the storyline itself.

Incorporating alterations such as ethical changes, using different language, and the change in title may seem ineffective initially, but close reading proves that Cesaire uses these strategies as his reaction to European colonialism. Because it was written in the 1600's, a time when European domination of the East was present and blacks were nothing more than servants, William Shakespeare's play does not include, nor mention black...

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... Theories of Colonialism & Postcolonialism", Brown Univ. 1993


Cesaire, Aime. A Tempest. Trans. Richard Miller. New York: UBU, 1992.

Davis, Gregson. Aime Cesaire. United Kingdom : Cambridge Univ. Press, 1997.

Dayan, Joan. "Playing Caliban; Cesaireís Tempest." Arizona Ouarterly. 48.4 (1942): 125-145.

Shakespeare, William. The Tempest. Ed. Frank Kermode. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1958.

Works Consulted

Breitman, George. The Bible. Malcolm X Speaks; Selected Speeches and Statements. New York: Pathfinder, 1989.

Neilson, Francis. Shakespeare and The Tempest. New Hampshire: Richard C. Smith Inc., 1956.

West, Cornel. Race Matters. New York: Vintage, 1992.

Wood, Joe, ed. Malcolm X: In Our Own Image. New York: St. Martins, 1992.
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