Post-colonial theory and conjecture in relation to William Shakespeare's The Tempest

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Murphy, Karen
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BA in English Literature and Drama
Dublin Business School
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The Tempest, William Shakespeare's final play, was performed for the first time in 1611 and since then has been tirelessly scrutinised by critics and theorists interpreting it from autobiographical, psychoanalytical, Marxist and many more varying perspectives. "And although other Shakespeare plays enjoy worldwide recognition in the aftermath of the British Empire, The Tempest has been uniquely adopted by formerly colonized nations in refashioning their post-colonial identities." Such theoretical responses to the play will be the focus of this body of work. I will approach Shakespeare's play from two different post-colonial perspectives; that of George Lamming's The Pleasures of Exile and Aime Cesaire's Une Tempete. I will begin with a brief introduction to The Tempest and its various scholarly interpretations. This play has inspired several re-workings in the form of poems, plays and critical analyses. The subheading to this opening chapter is Lamming's theoretical response in his essay A Monster, A Child, A Slave from The Pleasures of Exile. Chapter two looks at Cesaire's literary response in Une Tempete. The following chapter deals with the problems of language in The Tempest. This discussion focuses on Lamming and Cesaire's dilemmas of language and briefly mentions the Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong'o. After the first part of Chapter four; A history of Prospero's character, I then look at Prospero as the colonial educator. After Chapter five, Caliban-From Shakespearean Beast to Post-colonial Hero; the impact of the colonial education system is examined in Ariel-Dilemma of the Black Intellectual. The penultimate chapter parallels Caliban and Ariel as the black and mulatto slaves with a mutual oppressor. This text finally concludes in chapter eight by briefly outlining the differences and similarities of Lamming and Cesaire's interpretations of The Tempest and the main post-colonial issues associated with it.