Posted at 10.16.2018
Postcolonial critics 'develop a perspective [â] whereby areas of marginality, plurality and identified 'Otherness' have emerged as sources of energy and potential change. ' William Shakespeare's The Tempest exposes the issue of colonialism. 'Colonialism is the building and maintaining of colonies in a single territory by people from another territory. ' Postcolonial criticism 'is a specifically post-modern intellectual discourse that involves reactions to, and analysis of, the ethnic legacy of colonialism. ' This essay will discuss a post-colonial method of colonialism in The Tempest in relation to the view that the type Caliban represents American Indians or the 'Other'.
Caliban is dehumanised in the play as he is constantly referred to as a 'monster' in various ways: ''servant-monster, ' 'brave monster, ' 'man-monster' or simply 'monster' unqualified. '' The word 'servant' identifies the idea that Caliban is a slave for Prospero. A slave is seen to be dehumanised as they don't possess the same free will as other humans: 'And the point is to recognize him with some sort of subhuman freak thought in European countries even before the finding of red men in the us [â]' The view that Caliban will not own free will focus on his 'Otherness' in comparison to other powerful heroes in the play such as Prospero.
Caliban's dehumanisation is further highlighted when he's called a 'savage man'. The term 'savage' indicates Caliban's low status. His dehumanisation is further shown through his extra erotic forces: '[â] in the nightmares of Mediterranean humanists, have been endowed with intimate powers vastly in excess of their own. ' His low status and extra erotic powers further stress his 'Otherness' in contrast to other heroes with a higher status and typical powers of an human such as Miranda.
In consequence to being cured as an 'Other', Caliban retaliates by attempting to rape Miranda. Prospero says:
I have used thee,
Filth as thou skill, with human care, and lodged thee
In mine own cell till thou didst seek to violate
The honor of my child.
Prospero asserts he treated Caliban with 'human care' by receiving him into his 'own cell' although he was second-rate 'filth' to him. However he attemptedto 'violate' Miranda's 'honor' by wanting to rape her. A daughter's honour to a daddy is valuable so Caliban uses it as an instrument of revenge:
He becomes thus the first nonwhite rapist in white man's books, ancestor of countless Indian warriors and skulking niggers who have threatened ever since on the net, as well as on level and display screen, the fragile honor of their oppressors' daughters. '
Caliban's 'marginality' is a 'source of energy' for revenge of the oppression of slaves which empowers Caliban. Although Caliban seeks revenge on Prospero, his dehumanisation continues as he's referred to as a 'devil, a born devil, on whose character/Nurture never can remain. ' The noun 'devil' implies he is an wicked creature which must be punished by drive as he will never learn to be good. 'And it is his unredeemable carnality which, as both Prospero and Miranda demand, condemns him to eternal slavery, since, not capable of being educated by virtue, he must be manipulated by make. ' The audience is made aware how powerless the 'Other' is to their oppressors.
Racism is apparent in the play as Miranda says to Caliban: 'But thy vile race, /Though thou didst learn, experienced that in't which good natures/Could not abide to be with. ' The adjective 'vile' suggests an evil, annoying contest. She asserts that even though he could learn, it is because of his race that he can never be good. Caliban responds in a moving way:
And exhibited thee all the features o' th' isleâ.
Cursed be I that does so!. . .
The use of the ellipses and exclamation make high light Caliban's anger as the ellipses provide a respite in the tempo of the speech and then erupts the powerful assertion 'Cursed be I that performed so!' to stress his anger with himself of ever before trusting his to-be oppressors. 'There is, in addition, a kind of music in Caliban's talk, one is lured to say 'natural rhythm, [â]' The period of time in rhythm can be an example of the rest in tranquility in Caliban's personality anticipated to his oppressors treatment of him.
Caliban remembers the choice world of liberty in which he dreams of and needs never to be woken from:
Be not afeared. The isle is full of noises,
Sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes one thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about my ears, and sometimes voices,
That, if I then experienced waked after long sleeping,
Will make me sleep again. And, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open up and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that whenever I waked,
I cried to fantasy again
The use of senses illustrates Caliban's creativeness to the audience as he represents what he hears: 'a thousand twangling instruments', what he feels: 'great airs' and what he recognizes: 'The clouds methought would start and show riches'. The term 'cried' in the last type of the passing is a powerful reactive human feelings where he humanised once more. 'Once awakened from the long dream of primitive life, fallen out of the mother into the world of the father, there is absolutely no falling back to that ultra-uterine sleeping, only the hope for a different type of happiness, a new liberty on the further part of slavery. ' This imagine an alternative solution world is a human being reaction to get away from the harsh consequence of being 'marginal'.
The desiring flexibility is also seen when Caliban sings while he's drunk:
No more dams I'll make for fish.
Nor fetch in firing
Nor scrape trencher, nor rinse dish.
'Ban, 'Ban, Caliban
Has a fresh master-Get a fresh man.
Freedom, heyday! Heyday, independence! Freedom,
The repetition of 'nor', 'liberty' and 'heyday', the alliteration of 'seafood', 'fetch' and 'firing' and rhymes at the end of each lines are all poetic devices used in the song which is something new as the first non-white American poem: 'Especially in its Whitmanian long last lines-howled, we have been told by both mocking European clowns who listen-he has created something new under sunlight: the first American poem. ' Caliban's imagine change sparks 'potential change' in what is considered to be 'North american'.
Caliban's drunkenness adds humour to the play when Stephano and Trinculo come to save Caliban. They exit 'reeling ripe' and prophesying that they will remain 'pickled forever. ' By the end of the play, Caliban says: 'What a thrice-double ass/Was I, to use this drunkard for a god. ' Before in the play, he said: 'That's a courageous god, and bears celestial liquor, ' His realisation of how he acted while drunk is humourous for the audience as he becomes 'the first drunken Indian in Western literature. ' The people' 'Otherness' is a way to obtain energy for the audience as they are funny.
As regarding rape discussed before in the article, Caliban's marginality has triggered violence. Caliban hopes to assault his oppressor 'with a log/ Batter his skull, or paunch him with a stake, / Or slice his weasand with thy blade. ' The violent verbs 'batter'. 'paunch' and 'slice' surprise the audience with the severe imagery used. At this time in the play, Caliban's calm characteristics is not seen but only a violent creature is shown. Again, the consequence of his marginality has propelled his energy for violence.
However, Caliban feels his best weapons are his catalogs as it is referred to often in his speeches: 'Having first seized his booksâRemember/First to have got his literature, for without them/He's but a sotâMelt away but his literature. ' The importance of literature is prioritised in the repetition of the word 'first' and their sanctity is emphasised as he refuses to burn any catalogs. He is convinced this weapon will create an excellent world that may annihilate 'all authority and everything culture, a world eternally without slaves and clowns'. Caliban emphasises the power of literature to potentially change the world.
The sense of alienation credited to being the 'Other' is revealed in the repetition of the adjective 'strange' throughout the play: 'bizarre drowsiness, ' 'odd beast, ' 'weird music, ' 'strange Forms, ' 'unusual stare, ' 'weird storyline'- all climaxing in Alonso's information of Caliban: 'This is a peculiar thing as e'er I viewed on. ' Here, we can easily see that nearly every aspect of the play is 'odd' in some way. There is no sense of owed felt by any of the characters.
In the most general sense, moreover, both Old World of Apollonius and the New World of Caliban are worlds inhabited by terrifying and hostile strangers, or conversely, ones where the castaway European feels himself a stranger in a strange land.
In this sense, all the personas in the play can be called as the 'Other' and no person is one of the land the play is defined in.
However, in another sense, Prospero is shown to took Caliban's island. Prospero areas: 'Here in this island we arriv'd' while Caliban boasts: 'This island's mine, by Sycorax my mom/ Which thou tak'st from me' The repetition of the noun 'island' emphasises the main topic of the play as Prospero 'arrives' at the island 'taking' it from Caliban. Prospero's case mirrors the 'vital days of the partnership between the Europeans and the island's inhabitants'. (Palmer, p. 204) Prospero sometimes appears as the 'Other' where his energy is a source of change to the island by wanting to rule it.
The idea of the 'Other' being regarded as a slave is further emphasised by Caliban's affirmation that he decided to have Prospero as his 'King' but was deceived. 'Which first was mine own King', now protests that 'here you sty me/ Within this hard rock, whiles you need to do keep from me/ The others o'th'island'. The contrast of the start and end of the storyline is shown in the distinction of these two statements. Initially he saw Prospero as a King but is currently against a 'hard rock and roll'. Caliban 'recalls the initial mutual trust that was destroyed by Prospero's assumption of the politics control permitted by the energy of his magic. ' (Palmer, p. 205) Prospero's assumption that magic has allowed his control over Caliban is the source of energy to enslave Caliban.
This enslavement is further emphasised by the declaration: 'We cannot miss him: he does make our hearth, / Fetch inside our wood, and serves in office buildings/ That revenue us' The words 'fire' and 'phrase' symbolise one of the bare requirements of life which is warmth. This again mirrors the Western and inhabitants' relationship. 'Through its very occlusion of Caliban's version of proper beginnings, Prospero's disavowel is itself performative of the discourse of colonialism, since this specific reticulation of denial of dispossession with retrospective justification for this, is the characteristic trope by which Western colonial regimes articulated their authority over land to which they could have no conceivable legitimate state. '(Palmer, p. 206) Caliban's value highlights the value of the 'Other' as a way to obtain energy.
The risk of the 'Other' to disturb potential change is shown in Prospero's abrupt stop that he 'got forgot the foul conspiracy With the beast Caliban and his confederates Against my life: when of their plot Is nearly come. ' His fear is further shown in the dialog between Ferdinand and Miranda:
Ferdinand: 'This is unusual; your father's in a few enthusiasm That works him highly.
Miranda: Never till today Found I him touch'd with anger, so distemper'd.
The noun 'beast' highlights Prospero's fright of Caliban and Caliban's effect on Prospero is described through phrases such as 'works him strongly' or with 'interest' or 'touch'd with anger' or 'distemper'd' to emphasise how big is his anger towards Caliban. 'So while, on the facial skin from it, Prospero has no difficulty in dealing with the various dangers to his domination, Caliban's revolt shows uniquely troubling to the even unfolding of Prospero's plot. '(Palmer, p. 207)
The postcolonial methodology that states of marginality, plurality and identified 'Otherness' have emerged as resources of energy and potential change can boost my understanding of The Tempest in different ways. The notion that the character Caliban sometimes appears as the 'Other' stations his energy through violence to revenge his oppressor. Shakespeare warns the audience of potential results of oppression. However, this source of energy due to the 'Otherness' of Caliban's character can have a positive effect on the audience through humour. His weakness compared to his oppressors prompt the audience to sympathise with his calm character which promotes potential change in colonialism today.