Essay on An Analysis of Shakespeare's The Tempest

3488 Words14 Pages
An Analysis of Shakespeare's The Tempest

There are many ways of interpreting Shakespeare's The Tempest. A Post-Colonialist critic, such as Stephen Greenblatt, will look at the influence of historical and political implications of colonialism on the text. Along these lines, a Reader Response critic, such as Paul Yachnin, will look specifically at Shakespeare's audience and their concerns at the time in which the play was written. Very different from these approaches, a Psychological critic, such as Bernard Paris, will completely ignore what was in the author's and audience's minds, and look at the psyche of the main character in the play. Regardless of which critical approach is used to analyze the play, all interpretations should be
…show more content…
Greenblatt also points out the large number of texts that Shakespeare had available to read when writing the play. For example, Shakespeare probably read the letter by Bartolome de las Casas to Prince Philip of Spain in which he argues that his countrymen should leave the New World since they were only bringing exploitation and violence. Shakespeare is also known to have read Montaigne's essay "Of Cannibals", where the French essayist wrote admiringly of the Indians and lamented the whole European enterprise (114). Montaigne protests that, "there is nothing in that nation [the American Indians], that is either barbarous or savage, unless men call that barbarism which is not common to them" (119). With all of this literature so readily available and so much discussion on the topic, it is impossible to ignore the presence of these ideas in Shakespeare's mind and their influence on his writing. The relationship between Prospero and Caliban is like that of Europeans and the "savage" natives in the New World. Caliban is enslaved by Prospero, much like the natives were enslaved by the Europeans, who like Prospero felt themselves superior to these "savage Calibans" (114).

Greenblatt does agree that when interpreting a literary work one can not just look at one form of interpretation and take it as the truth. He claims that, "art that matters is not cement. It is
Open Document