Revisiting Caliban: A Postcolonial Scrutiny of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest

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Sahabuddin Ahamed

Abstract

This paper critically analyses William Shakespeare’s last play The Tempest from the perspective of postcolonial criticism. It reimagines and revisits individual agency and humanity of the character Caliban who is being demonized, dehumanized and enslaved by the colonial intruder, Prospero in his Eurocentric view of the Orient. By interrogating the dominant position of Prospero as a colonizer and the subordinated position of Caliban as a colonized Other, the paper unfolds the nature of the hegemonic discourse i.e. the colonizer’s language by which Caliban constructs his identity and act of resistance by suppressing his former self and his native language. By questioning the traditional Christian humanistic approach to the play as an allegory of creative power that brings reconciliation and forgiveness, postcolonial scholarship views the play as an allegory of European colonization and the imposition of Eurocentric ideology on the non-Europeans. Far from making a mere division between the elevated and noble side of nature and the brutish side of nature, the play is more concerned with colonial power, Eurocentric construction of savagery and colonized Other, and the function of a dominant culture in the representation of everything in term of binary opposition-Western and non-Western world and superior and inferior. The postcolonial critical approaches of Edward Said, Homi K. Bhabha and Frantz Fanon are used in the paper. Finally, the paper using the close textual analysis attempts to draw attention to the dynamics of uneven cultural representations and power relations devised by the dominant Eurocentric discourses in terms of place, race, culture, identity and language. It explores the Eurocentric epistemologies that legitimize the imperial conquest and domination of distant territories and their native peoples and ignore their socio-cultural values from a single perspective by portraying them in a negative and stereotypical way.

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How to Cite
Sahabuddin Ahamed. “Revisiting Caliban: A Postcolonial Scrutiny of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest”. The Creative Launcher, vol. 9, no. 2, Apr. 2024, pp. 49-57, https://www.thecreativelauncher.com/index.php/tcl/article/view/1169.
Section
Research Articles

References

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Retamar, Roberto Fernandez. Caliban and Other Essays. Translated by Edward Baker. University of Minnesota Press, 1989.

Said, Edward W. Orientalism. Penguin Books, 1991.

Shakespeare, William. The Tempest. The Complete Works of Shakespeare, 4th ed., edited by David Bevington, Harper Collins, 1992.