Shakespeare, the tempest

Essay by niknaknikHigh School, 12th grade March 2005

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Discuss how Shakespeare treats the theme of colonisation throughout The Tempest.

The story of an expedition to colonise part of America may have inspired Shakespeare to write 'The Tempest'. The stories of colonisation are strongly echoed in the play. For example when Trinculo first sees Caliban he wonders how much money he could make from exhibiting Caliban at an English fair.

The European greed was a driving force of so-called 'civilisation'. They did not stop to think and consider Calibans feelings. As a native of the island they saw him as the demoralised, detribalised, suffering monster. We see this when Stephano and Trinculo call Caliban names such as 'moon-calf' and 'ignorant monster'. It can also be seen when Stephano sees Calibans nervousness as a fit and thinks he can recover him with wine and tame him so that he can be sold. Stephano says,

'He's in his fit now, and does not talk after the wisest.

He shall taste of my bottle...

It will go near to remove his fit...'

These are examples of how the colonisers would have acted. They would not have considered the natives feelings and would have stolen their land and enslaved them, brought them back to Europe and sold them like animals. The colonisers behaved as if they were superior to the natives of the islands they were colonising. They thought that their way of life was much better than the natives and forced their ways upon the natives. However they did not do this in a nice way. Instead they were barbaric and in there own way savage about it. They would steal the natives land and enslave them and force their language and religions upon them. At the beginning of the play Shakespeare's attitude towards colonisation seems to be ambiguous.

In 'The Tempest'...