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“The Tempest”, William Shakespearean - Prospero’s relationship with the natives

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  1. Introduction.
  2. The first appearance of Ariel.
  3. Ariel's limited devotion.
  4. The first time Caliban appears in the play.
    1. No self-responsibility.
  5. Conclusion.
  6. Bibliography and sources.

In Shakespeare's play The Tempest, Prospero is presented as the colonizer, and Ariel and Caliban are seen as his «colonized subjects ». These two Natives had to accept this newcomer twelve years ago, and we rapidly learn that both didn't react the same way. Ariel feels grateful towards Prospero because the latter had rescued him from Sycorax's cast. She had imprisoned Ariel in a tree. But she was also Caliban's mother, and Caliban lived Prospero's arrival on the island as an intrusion. Therefore, we can say that Prospero's name can be rearranged to spell out « oppressor », and we'll see there's a reason for that. We quickly notice that these two subjects have different attitudes towards their master, who symbolizes modern civilization.

[...] (I,2,242-245) We see here that Ariel's devotion is limited; he agrees to serve his master only to the extent to which it ensures his future release. But Prospero has only to remind him of his debt and Ariel's submissive attitude is restored, because he has to repay the debt he owes to Prospero by serving him. One word from Prospero and Ariel goes back to his work: Prospero: If thou more murmur's, I will rend an oak And peg thee in his knotty entrails till Thou hast howled away twelve winters. [...]


[...] With time, and because of all he had to undergo, Caliban tends to reject everything Prospero taught him, like the language for example. This character has no self-responsibility, no liberty and simply feels frustrated not to be able to use the tools of communication Prospero gave him. But Caliban shows himself to be incapable of autonomy; indeed when he meets Trinculo and Stefano, he doesn't ask them for freedom, but on the contrary begs: I'll show thee every fertile inch o'th'island And will kiss thy foot. [...]

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