Aime Cesaire's A Tempest Clarifies Shakespeare's The Tempest
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Cesaire's A Tempest Clarifies Shakespeare's The Tempest
"Negritude, originally a literary and ideological movement of French-speaking black intellectuals, reflects an important and comprehensive reaction to the colonial situation of European colonization" (Carlberg). This movement, which influenced Africans as well as blacks around the world, specifically rejects the political, social, and moral domination of the West. Leopold Senghor, Leon Damas, and Aime Cesaire are the three pioneers of the revolution. The founder who expresses his ideas more broadly, though, is Cesaire, who uses literary works to express his viewpoint on colonization. An excellent example of such a tactic is his play, A Tempest, which is a revision of…show more content… Prospero becomes the ruler of the only other two inhabitants of the island, Caliban and Ariel. Cesaire uses the same series of events, but "confronts his readers with the unpleasant realities of slavery in the Americas" (Allison). While Prospero is cast in the role of a White slave owner, the natives, Ariel and Caliban, are transformed into his black slaves. The presence of race in the play is also displayed when Cesaire exposes the "feeble, racist, stereotypes many Whites propagate about Blacks" (Dayan 134). When referring to Caliban's living quarters, Prospero says, "It wouldn't be such a ghetto if you took the trouble to keep it clean" (Cesaire 13). Such a statement is clearly racist and plays into the stereotypes many Whites have about Blacks, and also makes the presence of race in Cesaire's play more obvious.
Another aspect of Cesaire's play that proves it is written from the African-American perspective of colonization is the language used. "The Tempest" is written, obviously, in Shakespearean language, a European form which is sometimes difficult for the modern reader to understand. Cesaire sees writing in an European language as a representation of Shakespeare's favoring of the Europeans in their domination of Americas. Therefore, to contradict this viewpoint, "A Tempest" is written in a more modern language, leaning more towards "ebonics" than the