The Tempest

A Post-Colonial Interpretation of The Tempest

A post-colonial interpretation of The Tempest is an interpretation which has gained popularity in the latter half of the twentieth century. This particular reading of the play implies that Shakespeare was consciously making a point about colonialism in the New World in the guise of the magician, Prospero's, usurpation of Caliban, the 'slave'. It can be argued that Caliban represents the native American, whilst Prospero can be seen as the European imperialist. This interpretation calls into question values and opinions of the past. It renders Caliban in a sympathetic light and it shows increased understanding for his plight while also raising questions about Prospero's rule over the island. However, this reading is not universally accepted in modern times. One critic comments that it is "simply absurd to impose our twentieth century concern with the imperialist rape of the third world" onto The Tempest.1 In contrast to this, Stephen Greenblatt responds that it is "very difficult to argue that The Tempest is not about imperialism."2 This essay aims to show that colonialism is a major issue in the play, and although Shakespeare may not come down in outright condemnation of it, he certainly...

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