Imperialism and Colonialism in Shakespeare´s The Tempest Essay

Imperialism and Colonialism in Shakespeare´s The Tempest Essay

Length: 928 words (2.7 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The Tempest was Shakespeare’s last play that was written shortly after England colonized Virginia in 1609. Throughout the play, there are many different references to imperialism and colonialism within the characters. The Tempest analyzes the imperialistic relationships between England and America but applies it to personal human interaction between the central characters. The island gives newcomers a sense of endless possibilities like claiming the land for themselves because of the belief in the Great Chain of Being and the seventeenth century being an age of exploration. The idea of ruling a colony lured many people into the idea that having that kind of power over a large group of people is attainable. Master-servant relationships are central in many scenes in the play. Nearly every scene consists of a person in possession of power and authority while another person is subjected to that power. For example, Caliban represents the native cultures suppressed by European societies, which Prospero is a symbol of.
This was also a time when an hierarchy world was attainable through means of colonization, imperialism, and slavery. The Great Chain of Being was an idea that all people and other creatures weren’t created equally. For example, the father is head of the household; below him, his wife; below her, their children. This idea can attribute to the mindset that was widely accepted back then where a master-servant relationship was common and some people were below others due to social status, wealth, and power. These ideas led to some people thinking its morally right to use other people below them to achieve success and prosperity.
The Tempest can also be seen as a critique of imperialism represented by the several situations i...


... middle of paper ...


... maybe then one might wonder if Prospero’s shift of actions can be justified. But this may not be entirely true, if we look at the history before the Tempest. We do know that Caliban was born from a witch and from an incubus which is defined as an evil or unholy male creature who has sex with women in their sleep, so he was not conceived from love but from lust which can be interpreted as sinful.This automatically makes him below Prospero who was born into a noble status; he was born to be ruler of Milan. Partly because of Caliban’s upbringing, and knowing he attempted rape on Miranda he can be characterized as as someone who is driven by pleasure. Prospero on the other hand, is driven by intellect. He tries to do what he thinks is right to maintain his position of power. He has to put more thought and planning into his decisions to manipulate situations and people.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Imperialism and Colonialism in Shakespeare´s The Tempest Essay

- ... This idea can attribute to the mindset that was widely accepted back then where a master-servant relationship was common and some people were below others due to social status, wealth, and power. These ideas led to some people thinking its morally right to use other people below them to achieve success and prosperity. The Tempest can also be seen as a critique of imperialism represented by the several situations in the play that make references to colonial power between the characters. The island in the Tempest has often been interpreted as the “brave new world” by many critics....   [tags: interaction, colony, power]

Better Essays
928 words (2.7 pages)

tempcolon Confronting Colonialism and Imperialism in Aime Cesaire's A Tempest

- Confronting Colonialism in A Tempest     A Tempest by Aime Cesaire is an attempt to confront and rewrite the idea of colonialism as presented in Shakespeare’s The Tempest.  He is successful at this attempt by changing the point of view of the story.  Cesaire transforms the characters and transposes the scenes to reveal Shakespeare’s Prospero as the exploitative European power and Caliban and Ariel as the exploited natives.  Cesaire’s A Tempest is an effective response to Shakespeare’s The Tempest because he interprets it from the perspective of the colonized and raises a conflict with Shakespeare as an icon of the literary canon....   [tags: Tempest essays]

Better Essays
1397 words (4 pages)

Essay on Power By William Shakespeare 's The Tempest

- Power is defined as the competency or the ability to determine the behavior of other individual or the outcomes of certain circumstances. For most, blood is their direct entrance into their position in the social hierarchy and for the most elite, it is almost as if these individuals are born with an innate ability to give orders, enforce obedience and exercise their authority at will. William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, presents the prevailing theme of power. This play constantly introduces conflicts between those in power and those suppressed by it....   [tags: The Tempest, Moons of Uranus, Prospero]

Better Essays
951 words (2.7 pages)

An Analysis of Shakespeare's The Tempest Essay

- An Analysis of Shakespeare's The Tempest There are many ways of interpreting Shakespeare's The Tempest. A Post-Colonialist critic, such as Stephen Greenblatt, will look at the influence of historical and political implications of colonialism on the text. Along these lines, a Reader Response critic, such as Paul Yachnin, will look specifically at Shakespeare's audience and their concerns at the time in which the play was written. Very different from these approaches, a Psychological critic, such as Bernard Paris, will completely ignore what was in the author's and audience's minds, and look at the psyche of the main character in the play....   [tags: Tempest Essays]

Better Essays
3495 words (10 pages)

tempnature Duality Between Nature and Society in Shakespeare's The Tempest

- Duality Between Nature and Society in The Tempest                  One of the essential themes of The Tempest is the duality between nature and society.  This is made evident through the character of Caliban: the disfigured fish-like creature that inhabits the island upon which the play takes place.  Caliban lacks civility because he was born on the island deprived of any social or spiritual morality other than nature and instinct.  He is literally man untamed.  Caliban is not monstrous simply for the sake of being frightening; his ghastly appearance is intended to literally depict the essential differences between civilization and natural instinct....   [tags: Tempest essays]

Better Essays
807 words (2.3 pages)

Imperialism and Colonialism Essay

- Imperialism has been noted to be practice of foreign rule in a context of hierarchy and subordination, which can eventually lead to the formation of an empire. Imperialism refers directly to the enhancement of power and military superiority. At the time when developed nations were colonizing less developed nations around the 1870s, the age of Imperialism began. Referring to the time were nations such as the United States, Germany, and Japan began to employ imperialist doctrines to their governance, yet imperialist tendencies had been around for centuries....   [tags: Imperialism produces colonialism]

Better Essays
2499 words (7.1 pages)

Prospero's Relationship with Caliban and Colonialism in "The Tempest" Essay

- The relationship between Prospero and Caliban is a perfect demonstration of the dependence relationship between a coloniser and the native of whichever colony he set his eye upon. Colonialism was a subject easily related to by Shakespeare's contemporary audience; with James on the throne the British Empire was beginning to thrive and would soon become the largest in not only the 17th Century world, but one of the largest in history. At the time 'The Tempest' was first preformed, 1611, Britain had begun to lay claim to North America and the smaller Caribbean isles, a fact the King was no doubt proud of and, similarly to his addition of the supernatural (a subject that fascinated James), aimin...   [tags: Colonialism, Tempest, shakespeare,]

Better Essays
1490 words (4.3 pages)

Essay about The Conflict Of Colonialism And Imperialism

- Often times, the concepts colonialism and imperialism are confused and as result the terms are often used interchangeably. However, both concepts have different meanings. This paper will give a brief analysis of the difference between both concepts. In addition, it will also make reference to a country that experienced colonialism and one that experienced imperialism. According to Cynthia Barrow-Giles (2002), colonialism may be defined as “the conquest and settlement of a weak or backward country for the purpose of settlement by a stronger or advanced alien nation” (p.2)....   [tags: Colonialism, Europe, Scramble for Africa]

Better Essays
822 words (2.3 pages)

Essay about The Case Of British Imperialism And Colonialism

- What occurs when a nation has both the capacity to create peace and unity and also has the power to oppress an entire people. This situation was one of actuality as exemplified in the case of British imperialism and colonialism. With the introduction of the Industrial Revolution spearheading British Imperialism, conflicts arise with the influence they actually have on those whom they guide and govern. Baba, a 19th century woman in what is now modern day Nigeria, said “Ever since we were quite small the malams [Muslim scholars] had been saying that the Europeans would come with a thing called a train, they would come with a thing called a motor-car......   [tags: British Empire, British Raj, Colonialism, Europe]

Better Essays
1012 words (2.9 pages)

Essay on Imperialism and Colonialism

- Imperialism Imperialism is the policy or practice of a country extending its control over a foreign country’s land, economic life, or political system. The ruling country usually does this through conquest, and the native people of the nation being taken over are often suppressed. If a nation takes over the government of another territory militarily or through political means, then this is called direct imperialism. Indirect imperialism is when a region is self-governing but another country takes over through economic processes....   [tags: World History]

Better Essays
539 words (1.5 pages)