Theme of Colonization in “The Tempest” Essay Sample

Theme of Colonization in “The Tempest” Essay Sample


Colonization is a perennial subject dealt by Shakespeare throughout his drama The Tempest. The paper would measure and discourse the narrative being the scope of involvement of an expedition to colonise portion of America as it inspires Shakespeare to compose ‘The Tempest’ . The European greed is a driving force of alleged civilisation in the head covering of colonisation. They do non halt to believe and see Calibans feelings. As a indigen of the island they see him as the demoralized. detribalized. enduring monster. In ‘The Tempest’ Shakespeare establishes the stereotypes of the coloniser and the colonized. Fictional characters that come across. as the colonisers are Miranda. Prospero. Stephano and Trinculo. Caliban is made out to be the colonised indigen. However Shakespeare does non let characters to suit neatly into one stereotype.


The first colonisers who come across are Prospero and Miranda. They behave as colonisers in different ways. They are presented as colonisers in that they stole Caliban’s island. Evidence of this may be noted in Act 1 Scene 2 when Caliban says. ‘This island’s mine by Sycorax my mother/Which 1000 tak’st from me…’ nevertheless farther on lines 348 and 349 it reveals that Caliban tries to ravish Miranda and is non regretful for it. He wishes he could hold succeeded as he says.

‘Thou didst prevent me – I had peopled else

This isle with Calibans’ ( Act I Scene II )

This seems to be the ground for Prospero handling Caliban this manner and shows Calibans barbarian. revengeful nature. They are besides presented as colonisers by the manner they economically exploit Caliban and position and dainty him as inferior. This is apparent in Act 1 Scene 2 when Prospero calls to Caliban and says.

‘Come Forth. I say ; there’s other concern for thee.

Come. 1000 tortoise. when? ’ ( Act I Scene II )

This quotation mark shows they have exploited him by doing him work for them and handling him as an inferior by associating him to an animate being by naming him names such as ‘tortoise’ . However Prospero besides says. ‘we can non lose him’ which shows how Prospero and Miranda rely on him and should handle him with a small spot more regard. Other ways in which Prospero may be viewed as the coloniser are he forced Caliban to larn his linguistic communication and Miranda calls Calibans linguistic communication ‘gabble’ . He besides insults Calibans female parent and refers to Calibans race as ‘vile’ . This is how colonisers would hold behaved. They would see their race as far superior.

Prospero is besides viewed as a coloniser because he uses force to command Caliban. He says. ‘…I’ll rack thee with old cramps/Fill all thy castanetss with achings. do thee roar…’ This shows that if Caliban is non willing to obey and make things for Prospero he will do him make it by bring downing hurting upon him. This is how some of the colonisers would hold behaved because they wanted control.

Caliban seems to be the colonised indigen because he is stupid plenty to demo Prospero all the resources of the island and so he lost his island to Prospero. Caliban tells us this by stating.

‘…And so I loved thee

And showed thee all the qualities o’ the ‘sle.

The fresh springs. brine-pits. wastes place…

Cursed be I that did so! … ‘ ( Act I Scene II )

This shows Caliban is paying for his actions and wants he had ne’er have shown Prospero the good qualities of the island. This mirrors how the indigens behave. They truly welcome the colonisers and treate them good. Again in Act 2 Scene 2 Caliban the same error once more when he says to Stephano. ‘ I’ll show thee every fertile inch o’ th’island. And I will/kiss thy pes – I prithee be my God. ’ Here Caliban is doing the same error once more which leads us to believe he truly is dense and fits into the class of the stereotyped indigen. However here Caliban can be seen as rather intelligent as he sees Stephano as a softer maestro and an easier manner to finally be free. As it is observed that Caliban sings.

‘No more dams I’ll brand for fish.

Nor fetch in firing

At necessitating.

Nor scraping trenchering. nor wash dish.

… . Has a new master-get a new adult male.

Freedom. high-day. high-day freedom’ ( Act II Scene II )

Although Caliban appears to be smart here he says in his vocal he will no longer hold to make these tough undertakings Prospero makes him make even though he promises to make them for Stephano. When Prospero foremost came to the island he is nice to Caliban they manner Stephano is being but that could alter when Caliban does non make what he promises and Stephano could stop up being a harder maestro. Evidence that Caliban is colonized by Prospero is that he is Prospero’s slave. Prospero calls him. ‘Thou toxicant slave’ . He is besides merely allowed to remain in one portion of the island. This shows us that he is being colonized because he can non make what he wants freely on an island that is truly his. Other grounds that suggests Caliban has been colonized is that he one time had his ain linguistic communication and civilization but when Prospero came along he taught Caliban his linguistic communication when it should hold been the other manner around because Prospero came to Calibans island.

Stephano orders Caliban to make things such as ‘drink’ and ‘come kiss’ . Caliban does this for him and so comes across as the colonised one even though he does hold hidden grounds for making this. However. Shakespeare blurs the differentiation so that Prospero is non to the full a coloniser and Caliban is non to the full a typical indigen. This is a method used to demo how he treats the subject of colonisation. Prospero is non to the full considered a coloniser for a figure of grounds. Prospero and Miranda did non intentionally arrive on the island to colonise it. Colonizers would hold by and large gone to an island with the purpose to colonise it. Prospero is sent out to sea with Miranda with hope of decease by Prospero’s brother Antonio who wants power over Milan. Prospero explains this to Miranda in Act 1 Scene 2 by stating.

‘…They hurried us aboard a bark.

Bore us some conferences to sea. where they prepared

A icky carcase of a butt. non rigged.

Nor tackle. canvas. nor mast – the really rats

Instinctively have quit it. They hoist us

To shout to th’sea. that roared to us ; to sigh’ ( Act I Scene II )

So Prospero arrived on the island by chance but with the aid of his charming powers to salvage himself and Miranda. It besides seems that Prospero is non to the full a coloniser because Prospero and Caliban live together merrily until Caliban attempts to ravish Miranda. It is merely because Prospero says.

‘Thou most lying slave.

Whom chevrons may travel. non kindness! I have used thee.

Filth as thou art. with humane attention. and lodged thee

In mine ain cell. till thou didst seek to go against

The honor of my kid. ‘ ( Act I Scene II )

Therefore Prospero’s rough intervention of Caliban can be justified. It is non that of a barbarous coloniser but instead that of a loving male parent who merely wants to protect his kid. Prospero’s barbarous behaviour towards Caliban does non merely look to be because he is a native as sometimes he behaves this manner with Ariel when he will non make what he wants. This is apparent in Act 1 Scene 2 when Ariel demands his freedom. Prospero so makes Ariel retrieve the torture he is freed from and black mails him. When Ariel refuses to make what Prospero asks Prospero becomes cross and calls him a ‘malignant thing’ . This is the type of linguistic communication he might utilize towards Caliban. This shows Prospero’s mode is his more controlling nature than a colonizer trait.

This can be observed when Stephano and Trinculo call Caliban names such as ‘moon-calf’ and ‘ignorant monster’ . It can besides be seen when Stephano sees Calibans jitteriness as a tantrum and thinks he can retrieve him with vino and tame him so that he can be sold. Stephano says.

‘He’s in his tantrum now. and does non speak after the wisest.

He shall gustatory sensation of my bottle…

It will travel near to take his fit…’ ( Act II Scene II )

These are illustrations of how the colonisers would hold acted. They would non hold considered the indigens feelings and would hold stolen their land and enslaved them. brought them back to Europe and sold them like animate beings. The colonisers behave as if they are superior to the indigens of the islands they are colonising. They think that their manner of life is much better than the indigens and coerce their ways upon the indigens. However they do non make this in a nice manner. Alternatively they are barbarian and in at that place ain manner barbarian about it. They would steal the indigens land and enslave them and coerce their linguistic communication and faiths upon them. At the beginning of the drama Shakespeare’s attitude towards colonisation seems to be equivocal.

Shakespeare besides blurs Caliban’s stereotype so Caliban is non to the full a typical indigen. Caliban is non a hapless. powerless native. as it is expected him to be. He is absolutely capable of standing up to Prospero and Miranda. Shakspere shows this through Calibans usage of linguistic communication and how he can utilize what Prospero and Miranda taught him against them. He stands up for himself by stating. ‘You taught me linguistic communication. and my net income on’t/is I know how to cuss. ’ He uses their linguistic communication against them by cussing. ‘ A south-west blow on ye/And blister you all o’er! ’ And ‘All the charms/Of Sycorax – frogs. beetles. chiropterans – visible radiation on you! ’ From this it is considered that Caliban might really be rather smart to utilize this against them and this is something non expected of a indigen.

However Caliban does possess some markers of savageness as he is physically deformed and abhorrent and even though he can utilize linguistic communication against Prospero and Miranda his linguistic communication is basal. Caliban’s visual aspect is learnt in Act 1 Scene 2 when Prospero and Ariel are speaking. Prospero describes Caliban as a ‘freckled pup. hag-born’ and ‘not honoured with a human shape’ . Caliban besides shows himself to be a dense indigen in Act 2 Scene 2 when Caliban believes that Stephano is the adult male on the Moon. Stephano says. ‘Out o’ th’ Moon. when clip was. ’ Caliban so replies with. ‘I have seen thee in her ; and I do adore thee/My kept woman showed me thee…’ This confirms to Stephano that Caliban is non that smart and that he could perchance state prevarications to acquire Caliban to make things for him.

Again at the terminal of the drama in Act 5 Scene 1 once more marks of colonisation are in trend. This is when Sebastian shows an involvement in selling Caliban as he says. ‘Will money purchase ’em? ’ This besides shows the greed some colonisers had. Caliban is portrayed to look smart at the terminal of the drama once more as he has leant from his errors this clip. He says. ‘I’ll be wise hereafter’ . This shows he is every bit speedy to swear people and he has learnt from his errors and has the finding to seek and be free once more.


There are many cases in the drama that show Shakespearian disposition and aptitude to portray colonisation. It is Prospero’s about particular concentration towards metropolitan political relations that affords his strongest relationship to the colonizing landed aristocracy of Shakespeare’s modern-day London. When he was composing The Tempest. colonisation gained the idea of a conventional but bit by bit more oppositional state involvement emerging among the nobility. including the earl of Southampton: Shakespeare’s one time helper. If the critics of the drama have been insightful to colonialist facet of the drama. they besides have excessively effortlessly incorporated it to the authorization of the Stuart province.