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Master slave relationships in Shakespeares The Tempest - Essay Example

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This paper sought to analyse the master slave relationships in "The tempest" from the point of deconstructive critics that takes into account the fundamental binary oppositions in western culture such as man versus woman, native versus foreign, mater versus slave, or good versus evil. …
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Master slave relationships in Shakespeares The Tempest

Download file to see previous pages... (I, ii, 519-520). The word ‘slave’ is repeatedly used in the text to refer to Caliban which throws light on the European attitudes towards the people they conquered through imperialism. Similarly, Prospero calls Caliban “beast” (IV, i, 140), “devil” (IV, i, 188) and other derogatory terms to refer to his savagery and uncivilised ways. Even though Prospero claims to have imposed penalties on Caliban for violating the honour of his daughter (I, ii, 347-48) one really tends to doubt whether Caliban really deserves all those punishments inflicted on him. Tiffany, in this respect, purports that Caliban’s attempted rape on Miranda “stemmed from untaught natural impulse than from considered evil.” However, Caliban is destined to suffer from the wrath of his master. However, Caliban is not always submissive or servile. He reacts and yearns for his freedom and rights like a true colonist. His poems display both imaginative and intellectual capabilities. He is bold enough to state that the island was presented to him by his mother: “This island’s mine by Sycorax my mother” (I, ii, 331) and thus he expresses his rightful claim to own the island. In the same way, Caliban’s intense longing to take revenge on his master is also evident in the play when he joins with Stephano and Trinculo to plot against Prospero. His revengeful attitude also made clear when he regrets of not being able to molest Miranda. He believes that if he had succeeded in his rape attempt he could have “peopled..../This isle with Calibans” (I, ii, 350-51) and taken the power back from Prospero’s hands. Thus, Caliban’s character displays feelings of...
This paper illustrates that one can find Prospero’s magical powers being highlighted in The Tempest whereas his oppressive nature is depicted as subtle. However, deconstructive critics hold that “each term in the opposition depends on the other for meaning” and as such it is clear that Prospero masterly position in the play is directly related to Caliban’s servile or beastly existence. A deconstructive understanding of the text shows The Tempest is not merely a story of an island inhabitant and his master; on the other hand, the text aims at breaking the legacy of colonialism or imperialism that underpinned Britain’s history of slavery and empire. It can thus be seen that The Tempest deals with the themes of power and control within a master slave relationship between Prospero and Caliban. Caliban remains a servant to many masters varying from his mother Sycorax, the original colonizer to Stephano whom he takes as his own master to challenge Prospero. One can clearly notice that a number of characters in the play compete for the colonial control of the island and each one has specific colonial ambitions for the island. Even though Prospero succeeds in retaining the control of the island against all conspiracies his rule and the way he treats Caliban who is the rightful owner of the island raises questions of fairness, morality and rights. Thus, it is evident that the play depicts all the necessary tensions, uncertainties and master-slave relations that characterise colonialism and both Prospero and Caliban are signifiers for the greater imperial world order. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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