Encounters, Steven Glandsberg
3 April, 2013
Commonly considered the greatest writer of all time, William Shakespeare composed some of the most highly regarded literary works that have ever been produced. His plays, so clever in their wordplay and verse, are to this day read and preformed all over the world. From middle school English class, to Cambridge University, scholars of all calibers can read and analyze his work, but it takes a true master of the pen to attempt to rewrite one of Shakespeare’s masterpieces. His plays are not only riddled with poetic language and complex characters, but also layered with contemporary symbolism that often goes unnoticed by the modern reader. For instance, it is widely accepted that Shakespeare’s final play, The Tempest, is a commentary on the morality of colonialism during the rise of the first British Empire, with Caliban representing the oppressed and enslaved natives. When rewriting this piece, French protégé Aimé Césaire chose to make this metaphor the overriding theme of his play, A Tempest, however he updated the issue to the more contemporary problem of civil rights in the United States, using Caliban to represent the enraged African Americans of the Nation of Islam. In order to effectively display this allegory, Césaire amplifies Caliban’s hatred of his oppressor to match the outraged attitudes of black Americans who were fed up with the segregated and oppressive social system that plagued the United States. While Caliban was already an indignant and deprived servant in Shakespeare’s original work, in Césaire’s rewrite he exacerbates this hatred towards his oppressor Prospero and his situation until he can no longer hold back the compulsion to rebel. As a character in both plays, Caliban enters the stage with the same background information. The rightful heir to the island, Caliban is enslaved by Prospero after welcoming him to the island and introducing him to the indigenous...
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