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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: May ::
Re: The Tempest
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0829  Friday, 7 May 1999.

[1]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Thursday, 06 May 1999 10:23:52 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0825 Assorted Responses

[2]     From:   Marti Markus <
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        Date:   Thursday, 06 May 1999 20:27:07 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0825 Assorted Responses

[3]     From:   Karen Peterson-Kranz <
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        Date:   Friday, 7 May 1999 08:03:46 +1000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0796 Re: Caliban


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Thursday, 06 May 1999 10:23:52 +0000
Subject: 10.0825 Assorted Responses
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0825 Assorted Responses

I found Charlie Mitchell's take on The Tempest to be a breath of fresh
air:

>This has always been my problem with colonialist readings of the play.
>No one is native to this space between Milan and Carthage except for the
>spirits and they are forces that Prospero has learn to shape.  There is
>also no eradication of native language, religious practice or government
>which I would think would be necessary to support a colonialist view of
>the play.

Two possibilities, though:

1. Could we read the play as concerning different waves of immigrants?
One could argue, after all, that my parents' Cree neighbours are also
immigrants to Canada, albeit immigrants whose ancestors came more
recently than mine.  My point is that Caliban doesn't have to be
"native" to the island (a tricky concept, under the best of conditions)
to have a prior claim to it.

2. Could effacing Caliban's humanity and indigenous claim to the area be
a product of Shakespeare's complicity in the colonialist project?  I'd
rather not think so, but it's a possibility that has to be entertained.
Alternatively, we could say (more simply, I think) that Shakespeare's
presentation of colonial displacement is complicated because his focus
is fundamentally elsewhere, and because he's not quick to moralize or
apologize.  In any case, Shakespeare's play reflects the full complexity
of the issues which both the late sixteenth century and late twentieth
century confront.

Cheers,
Se

 

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