e-book The use of language as a tool in a post-colonialist reading of Othello and The Tempest

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Amazon Restaurants Food delivery from local restaurants. ComiXology Thousands of Digital Comics. East Dane Designer Men's Fashion. Shopbop Designer Fashion Brands. Postcolonial Othering in Three Plays by Shakespeare: Othello, Antony and Cleopatra, The Tempest. This thesis aims to present a reading of three plays by William Shakespeare from the perspective of postcolonial literary studies.

Her only duty in his eyes is to remain chaste. Ann Thompson argues that Miranda, in a manner typical of women in a colonial atmosphere, has completely internalised the patriarchal order of things, thinking of herself as subordinate to her father. The less-prominent women mentioned in the play are subordinated as well, as they are only described through the men of the play. Most of what is said about Sycorax, for example, is said by Prospero. Further, Stephen Orgel notes that Prospero has never met Sycorax — all he learned about her he learned from Ariel.

According to Orgel, Prospero's suspicion of women makes him an unreliable source of information. Orgel suggests that he is sceptical of female virtue in general, citing his ambiguous remark about his wife's fidelity. Adaptations of the play, not Shakespeare's original, dominated the performance history of The Tempest from the English Restoration until the midth century.

Upon the restoration of the monarchy in , two patent companies —the King's Company and the Duke's Company —were established, and the existing theatrical repertoire divided between them. They tried to appeal to upper-class audiences by emphasising royalist political and social ideals: Miranda has a sister, named Dorinda; and Caliban a sister, also named Sycorax. In , Thomas Shadwell re-adapted Dryden and Davenant as an opera of the same name, usually meaning a play with sections that were to be sung or danced.


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Samuel Pepys , for example, described it as "an old play of Shakespeares" [41] in his diary. The opera was extremely popular, and "full of so good variety, that I cannot be more pleased almost in a comedy" [41] according to Pepys. Eckhard Auberlen describes him as "reduced to the status of a Polonius -like overbusy father, intent on protecting the chastity of his two sexually naive daughters while planning advantageous dynastic marriages for them.

It opened with what appeared to be a tempest, but turns out to be a riot in a brothel. Ariel was—with two exceptions—played by a woman, and invariably by a graceful dancer and superb singer. Caliban was a comedian's role, played by actors "known for their awkward figures". In , David Garrick staged another operatic version, a "three-act extravaganza" with music by John Christopher Smith. The Tempest was one of the staples of the repertoire of Romantic Era theatres. John Philip Kemble produced an acting version which was closer to Shakespeare's original, but nevertheless retained Dorinda and Hippolito.

Kemble's Dorinda and Miranda, for example, were played "in white ornamented with spotted furs". In , a year after the debut of his operatic version, David Garrick produced a heavily cut performance of Shakespeare's script at Drury Lane , and it was revived, profitably, throughout the century. It was not until William Charles Macready 's influential production in that Shakespeare's text established its primacy over the adapted and operatic versions which had been popular for most of the previous two centuries.

The performance was particularly admired for George Bennett 's performance as Caliban; it was described by Patrick MacDonnell—in his An Essay on the Play of The Tempest published in —as "maintaining in his mind, a strong resistance to that tyranny, which held him in the thraldom of slavery". The Victorian era marked the height of the movement which would later be described as "pictorial": Hans Christian Andersen also saw this production and described Ariel as "isolated by the electric ray", referring to the effect of a carbon arc lamp directed at the actress playing the role.

Post-Colonial Theory & The Tempest

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Caliban, not Prospero, was perceived as the star act of The Tempest , and was the role which the actor-managers chose for themselves. Frank Benson researched the role by viewing monkeys and baboons at the zoo; on stage, he hung upside-down from a tree and gibbered. Continuing the lateth-century tradition, in Herbert Beerbohm Tree wore fur and seaweed to play Caliban , with waist-length hair and apelike bearing, suggestive of a primitive part-animal part-human stage of evolution.

John Gielgud played Prospero numerous times, and is, according to Douglas Brode, "universally heralded as … [the 20th] century's greatest stage Prospero". Peter Brook directed an experimental production at the Round House in , in which the text was "almost wholly abandoned" in favour of mime. In spite of the existing tradition of a black actor playing Caliban opposite a white Prospero, colonial interpretations of the play did not find their way onto the stage until the s.

Miller's production was described, by David Hirst, as depicting "the tragic and inevitable disintegration of a more primitive culture as the result of European invasion and colonisation". This used a mixed cast made up of white actors as the humans and black actors playing the spirits and creatures of the island.


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  • According to Michael Billington , "von Sydow's Prospero became a white overlord manipulating a mutinous black Caliban and a collaborative Ariel keenly mimicking the gestures of the island's invaders. The colonial metaphor was pushed through to its logical conclusion so that finally Ariel gathered up the pieces of Prospero's abandoned staff and, watched by awe-struck tribesmen, fitted them back together to hold his wand of office aloft before an immobilised Caliban.

    The Tempest suddenly acquired a new political dimension unforeseen by Shakespeare. Psychoanalytic interpretations have proved more difficult to depict on stage. However neither was regarded as wholly successful: Shakespeare Quarterly , reviewing Freedman's production, commented, "Mr. Freedman did nothing on stage to make such a notion clear to any audience that had not heard of it before.

    In , John Wood played Prospero for the RSC , emphasising the character's human complexity, in a performance a reviewer described as "a demented stage manager on a theatrical island suspended between smouldering rage at his usurpation and unbridled glee at his alternative ethereal power". Japanese theatre styles have been applied to The Tempest. It was staged as a rehearsal of a Noh drama, with a traditional Noh theatre at the back of the stage, but also using elements which were at odds with Noh conventions.

    Controversially, in the early performances of the run, Ariel spat at Prospero, once granted his freedom. Wolfe in the outdoor New York Shakespeare Festival production of , where the casting of Aunjanue Ellis as Ariel opposite Patrick Stewart 's Prospero charged the production with erotic tensions. The Tempest was performed at the Globe Theatre in with Vanessa Redgrave as Prospero, playing the role as neither male nor female, but with "authority, humanity and humour The performance was in collaboration with The Imaginarium and Intel , and featured "some gorgeous [and] some interesting" [80] use of light, special effects, and set design.

    The Tempest has more music than any other Shakespeare play, and has proved more popular as a subject for composers than most of Shakespeare's plays. Scholar Julie Sanders ascribes this to the "perceived 'musicality' or lyricism" of the play. Two settings of songs from The Tempest which may have been used in performances during Shakespeare's lifetime have survived. The Tempest has also influenced songs written in the folk and hippie traditions: At least forty-six operas or semi-operas based on The Tempest exist.

    In Act 3, a psychoanalyst, Mangus, pretends to be Prospero and uses situations from Shakespeare's play in his therapy sessions. This opera is unique in that the three vocalists, a soprano , contralto , and tenor , are voices rather than individual characters, with the tenor just as likely as the soprano to sing Miranda, or all three sing as one character. There is an instrumental alter ego cello also for Prospero. Ballet sequences have been used in many performances of the play since Restoration times.

    Ludwig van Beethoven 's Piano Sonata No. But this story comes from his associate Anton Schindler , who is often not trustworthy. Stage musicals derived from The Tempest have been produced. A production called The Tempest: Percy Bysshe Shelley was one of the earliest poets to be influenced by The Tempest. The poem uses simple diction to convey Ariel's closeness to nature and "imitates the straightforward beauty of Shakespeare's original songs". One writer who explored these ideas was Robert Browning , whose poem " Caliban upon Setebos " sets Shakespeare's character pondering theological and philosophical questions.

    Sequel to The Tempest , in This features a female Ariel who follows Prospero back to Milan, and a Caliban who leads a coup against Prospero, after the success of which he actively imitates his former master's virtues. Auden 's "long poem" The Sea and the Mirror takes the form of a reflection by each of the supporting characters of The Tempest on their experiences. The poem takes a Freudian viewpoint, seeing Caliban whose lengthy contribution is a prose poem as Prospero's libido.

    From the midth century, Shakespeare's plays, including The Tempest , began to appear as the subject of paintings. In the late 19th century, artists tended to depict Caliban as a Darwinian "missing-link", with fish-like or ape-like features, as evidenced in Noel Paton 's Caliban. The work attempted to translate the contents of the plays into pictorial form. This extended not just to the action, but also to images and metaphors: Gonzalo's line about "mountaineers dewlapped like bulls" is illustrated with a picture of a Swiss peasant with a goitre.

    The illustrations highlight the fairy-tale quality of the play, avoiding its dark side. Of the 40, only 12 are direct depictions of the action of the play: Fantasy writer Neil Gaiman based a story on the play in one issue of his comics series The Sandman. The comic stands as a sequel to the earlier Midsummer Night's Dream issue. This issue follows Shakespeare over a period of several months as he writes the play, which is named as his last solo project, as the final part of his bargain with the Dream King to write two plays celebrating dreams.

    The story draws many parallels between the characters and events in the play and Shakespeare's life and family relationships at the time.

    Attitudes to colonialisation

    The Tempest first appeared on the screen in In , Percy Stowe directed a Tempest running a little over ten minutes, which is now a part of the British Film Institute 's compilation Silent Shakespeare. Much of its action takes place on Prospero's island before the storm which opens Shakespeare's play. At least two other silent versions, one from by Edwin Thanhouser , are known to have existed, but have been lost.

    Wellman , in The science fiction film Forbidden Planet set the story on a planet in space, Altair IV, instead of an island. Professor Morbius and his daughter Altaira Anne Francis are the Prospero and Miranda figures both Prospero and Morbius having harnessed the mighty forces that inhabit their new homes.


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    • Ariel is represented by the helpful Robby the Robot , while Sycorax is replaced with the powerful race of the Krell. Caliban is represented by the dangerous and invisible "monster from the id", a projection of Morbius' psyche born from the Krell technology instead of Sycorax's womb.

      In the opinion of Douglas Brode, there has only been one screen "performance" of The Tempest since the silent era, he describes all other versions as "variations". It cut the play to slightly less than ninety minutes. A episode of the television series Star Trek , " Requiem for Methuselah ", again set the story in space on the apparently deserted planet Holberg G. In , Derek Jarman produced a homoerotic Tempest that used Shakespeare's language, but was most notable for its deviations from Shakespeare.

      The film reaches its climax with Elisabeth Welch belting out Stormy Weather. Several other television versions of the play have been broadcast; among the most notable is the BBC Shakespeare production, virtually complete, starring Michael Hordern as Prospero. Paul Mazursky 's modern-language adaptation of The Tempest , with Philip Dimitrius Prospero as a disillusioned New York architect who retreats to a lonely Greek island with his daughter Miranda after learning of his wife Antonia's infidelity with Alonzo, dealt frankly with the sexual tensions of the characters' isolated existence.

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      The Caliban character, the goatherd Kalibanos, asks Philip which of them is going to have sex with Miranda. Susan Sarandon plays the Ariel character, Philip's frequently bored girlfriend Aretha. The film has been criticised as "overlong and rambling", but also praised for its good humour, especially in a sequence in which Kalibanos' and his goats dance to Kander and Ebb 's New York, New York. John Gielgud has written that playing Prospero in a film of The Tempest was his life's ambition.

      John Simon called it "contemptible and pretentious".

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      Closer to the spirit of Shakespeare's original, in the view of critics such as Brode, is Leon Garfield 's abridgement of the play for S4C 's Shakespeare: The Animated Tales series. The minute production, directed by Stanislav Sokolov and featuring Timothy West as the voice of Prospero, used stop-motion puppets to capture the fairy-tale quality of the play. A magician who has learned his art from one of his slaves, Prosper uses his magic to protect his teenage daughter and to assist the Union Army.