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February 8, 2017
The Tempest: Lecture 3
What happened to Caliban?
What happened to Prospero?
Three islands (decolonizing), three answers as history changes the scene.
Rudyard Kipling, “The White Man’s Buren” (1899; Phillipines/English)
Roberto Retamar, “Caliban” (1971; Cuba/Spanish)
Aimé Césaire, A Tempest (1969; Martinique/French)
• all pieces of persuasive writing
• makes audience think of power and how it survives
• addressing European and American audiences
• language is partner to empire
• but that same language can be used against empire
• those who use language to promote with empire learn that it is vulnerable (Prospero)
• those who use language to undermine empire learn that it can replicate the power
structure it seems to challenge (Caliban)
• the language of Shakespeare became a partner to empire (Kipling)
• but Shakespeare could be used (reinterpreted) to critique empire, allowing subjects of
empire to realize their power, control over own destiny (Césaire)
• over time, using Shakespeare, “real” advocates of empire learned how vulnerable they
• over time, using Shakespeare, their colonial subjects learned the limits of their power as
well (Césaire, Retamar)
The White Man’s Burden
• words shared with Shakespeare: “burden,” “profit,” “devil,” “child,” “peoples,” “tales”
• verbal qualities in common with Prospero: incantatory language through repetition to
persuade, achieve power (“take”)