What does Caliban symbolise? The part of human nature that we as civilised humans have learnt to subdue (Id)
What does his being “confined to this rock” perhaps symbolise? His enforced suppression of this part of the ego
What did Ron Daniels’ production in 1982 attempt to depict? Ariel and Caliban as opposing aspects of Prospero’s psyche, although neither was regarded as wholly successful
What were post-colonial readings inspired by? The decolonisation movements of the 1960s and 1970s in Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America. These readings question Prospero’s ownership of the island and rethink the role of Caliban
Before the advent of post-colonial criticism, how did Anglo-American critics frequently read the play? As an allegory about artistic creation. Prospero emerges as an all-knowing, benevolent patriarch and artistic creator whose motives are beyond reproach
Since the play is a romance… Its plot was generally approached as a fanciful tale with little connection to the history of the period or its aftermath
If traditionally Prospero’s art represented the world of civility and learning in contrast to the ‘natural’ black magic of Caliban’s mother Sycorax… Anti-colonial revisions of the play challenged this rather abstract Eurocentric division between art and nature
How did black writer and activist from Martinique, Aimé Césaire, rewrite the play in 1969? He celebrates Caliban’s verbal attacks on Prospero and questions the latter’s claims to the island. Ariel represents the mixed races more able to accept their limited oppression
How did Caliban come to be depicted as? A defiant subject under European rule, or simply an embodiment of any oppressed group
What accounts did Shakespeare draw upon in his dramatisation of the opening storm and shipwreck, and his depiction of the European confrontation with a ‘savage’? William Strachey’s account written in 1610 of the shipwreck and redemption of Sir Thomas Gates’s expedition in the Bermudas in 1609, while on his way to Jamestown in the Virginia colony established by the British
In this context, what does Caliban easily merge into? The image of the cannibal, the mythical ‘savage’ whom many European travellers claimed to have encountered
Unlike generations of earlier readers, post-colonial critics view Prospero’s and Miranda’s relations with Caliban as an allegory of what? European colonisation – one that reveals Shakespeare’s own ambivalence towards Prospero’s power representing that of European colonisers among non-European natives they encountered in the Americas, Africa, and the Caribbean, based on the premise of the ‘civilising mission’
What did this ‘civilising mission’ assume? That natives lacked any culture or formal language until the Europeans brought them the ‘gifts’ of Western language and culture. If natives resisted, they were labelled as ‘savages’ beyond redemption
What did Richard Eden compare the people of the New World to? A blank piece of ‘white paper’ on which you can ‘paynte and wryte whatever you wish’
What was a much-lauded concept? The Ideal Renaissance Man – characters who mastered different intellectual disciplines such as science, theology and philosophy were commonly depicted. Some have linked Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus (an extreme depiction of the IRM) to Prospero
How were native inhabitants seen as by early explorers? Inferior savages, fit for exploitation and in need of conversion to Christianity. An alternative view saw them as noble savages who were purer than decadent Western man: Caliban has elements of both such views
Who was a celebrated figure in the Renaissance? Dr John Dee – he was known as a magus (someone who was at once a magician and a scientist). A magus was somebody who exercised power over the natural world by some means that were unfathomable
What had recently been established in America in 1607? The Jamestown colony – English people in the Renaissance period were aware of the efforts by their government to explore and colonise distant lands
What was the Great Chain of Being? The universe was seen as a hierarchy in Shakespeare’s time, with God, the Creator, at the top. Everyone and everything else was a ‘creature’ of God. Next to God were the angelic spirits. It suggests everything is in a fixed position and when people want to move, things go wrong – very fitting in a play about hierarchy
What played a crucial role in the way Renaissance monarchs chose to think about themselves? The court masque
What did masques serve as? Images of order, peace and harmony brought about by the monarch’s mere presence, and expressed the didactic truths about monarchy. Lavishly spectacular and visual, designed to enchant the eye, and symbolise the controlling power of the king
In the period just prior to the composition of The Tempest, what had English society been rocked by? Political, social and religious conflicts. The Gunpowder Plot (1605), for example, serves as an illustration of the conflict between the Protestant James and his Catholic subjects. The goal of the Roman Catholic conspirators was to murder James and kill the members of both houses of Parliament