Essay on Comparing Aime Cesaire's A Tempest and Shakespeare's The Tempest

Essay on Comparing Aime Cesaire's A Tempest and Shakespeare's The Tempest

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Comparing A Tempest and The Tempest  


    William Shakespeare wrote The Tempest, arguably his finest work, on the eve of European colonization of the New World in 1611 (Hollander and Kermode 445-46). As a result, common European ideas about the New World in the early 1600s are alluded to throughout the play (446). Through the propagandistic writings of explorers like Captain John Smith, who authored a sensational and unsubstantiated account of his dramatic rescue from death at the hands of Indians by the Indian chiefís beautiful daughter, Pocahontas, many Europeans developed an interest in the inhabitants of the New World (Smith 24-25). Indeed, from the various explorers' stories that trickled hack to Europe, two different viewpoints surfaced concerning the natives in America (Hollander and Kermode 446). These two different viewpoints in Shakespeare's play are represented by the characters Ariel, who represents the compliant, friendly native, and Caliban, who represents the native as a wild savage. In 1969, Aime Cesaire published A Tempest, a play which uses Shakespeare's play as a model. Whereas Shakespeare writes from a European point of view about the New World on the eve of colonization, Cesaire, who was born on the Caribbean island of Martinique in 1913 and, thus, is a native of the "New World," writes from over 300 years of hindsight about the effects of European colonization. While one aspect of Shakespeare's genius in The Tempest is his reticence (Hollander and Kermode 444), part of Cesaire's genius in A Tempest is his overt accentuation of certain nuances found in Shakespeare's play. Thus, Cesaire, employing Shakespeare's play as a paradigm. accentuates the ugly consequences of Europeís colonization of the New Worl...


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Hollander, John, and Frank Kermode. The Literature of Renaissance England. New York: Oxford UP, 1973.

Keen, Benjamin. A History of Latin America, 4th ed. Boston: Houghton, 1992.

Kozol, Jonathan. Savage Inequalities; Children in Americaís Schools. New York. Harper, 1991.

Proffitt, Edward. Reading and Writing About Literature Fiction. Poetry. Drama and the Essay. New York: Harcourt, 1990.

Smith, John. "The General History of Virginia." Anthology of American Literature; Colonial Through Romantic. 5th ed. Ed. George McMichael. New York: Macmillam, 1993. 15-25. Washington, James M., ed. A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King. New York: Harper, 1986.

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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