Essay on Imperialism and Colonialism in Shakespeare´s The Tempest

Decent Essays
The Tempest was Shakespeare’s last play that was written shortly after England colonized Virginia in 1609. Throughout the play, there are many different references to imperialism and colonialism within the characters. The Tempest analyzes the imperialistic relationships between England and America but applies it to personal human interaction between the central characters. The island gives newcomers a sense of endless possibilities like claiming the land for themselves because of the belief in the Great Chain of Being and the seventeenth century being an age of exploration. The idea of ruling a colony lured many people into the idea that having that kind of power over a large group of people is attainable. Master-servant relationships are…show more content…
Caliban, Prospero’s slave and the first inhabitant on the island professes that he used to be his own king (l.ii.344-345). Gonzalo also has a moment where he imagines his own utopian society on the island (11.i.148-156). Stephano has his own vision of what he wants too, “Monster, I will kill this man. His daughter and I will be King and Queen.. And Trinculo and thyself shall be my viceroys”(iii.ii.101-103). Prospero, the main character, has a similar mindset to a colonist because although he ended up on the island accidentally, he still acts as superior to the inhabitants and he sees the island as something he can make profit from. Prospero probably wouldn’t fit the title of an imperialist invader because he came to the island as a fugitive and did not necessarily start a war with the inhabitants. Nonetheless he wants to restore his dukedom by manipulating people around him. He does this to his daughter Miranda by keeping her naive and innocent. He also conjures up Ferdinand, who becomes Miranda’s love interest, and then proceeds to enslave him also. Prospero uses Ariel to carry out most of his plans by convincing Ariel he will soon be free if he keeps obeying Prospero with willingness and enthusiasm. Prospero uses mostly guilt and fear to keep his slaves along side with him. He threatens Caliban in Act 1 “Thou shalt be pinched as thick as honeycomb, each pinch more
Get Access