Orientalism In The Tempest

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In its original sense, orientalism refers to the scholarly study of the history, culture, and art of the East: India, Asia and Levant (Arthur Goldwag, p.114). But through Palestinian scholar Edward said the term orientalism got an imperialistic connotation. Said in his book titled Orientalism said, “Orientalism is a style of thought based upon an ontological and epistemological distinction made between “the Orient” and (most of the time) “the Occident”. Said defines the Orient as, “an idea that has a history and a tradition of thought, imagery, and vocabulary that have given it reality and presence in and for the West. The two geographical entities thus support and to an extent reflect each other” (Said 5). Said further describes
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In The Tempest this is shown through the depiction of Caliban and also the relationship he has with Prospero and Miranda. Caliban plays a small role in the text but is one of the most important characters from The Tempest. Caliban's importance lays mostly within the concept of post-colonialism. The character of Caliban is read as an epitome of the Oriental person. He is seen as a primitive human, degraded character. Caliban represents greediness, lustfulness and anarchy. Caliban symbolized the lesser developed world as it was imagined by the more developed Europeans. Caliban has always been linked to colonialism as he is seen as the perfect representation of 'The Other'. Caliban is depicted as half animal and is seen as needing someone to rule over him someone who can make him civilized. This once again works to justify the Occident's ideology that the Orient is uncivilized and the Eastern Countries need the West to help them become civilized. In Robinson Crusoe this orientalist mentality is shown through the master and slave relation between Crusoe and Friday. The way Crusoe portrays the physical features of Friday, his ignorant religious belief and also his cannibal habit, all adheres to the discourse of orientalism. Friday becomes a symbol of “the white man’s burden,” that means Europeans belief, as a civilized Anglo-Saxon Christians they have rights to make…show more content…
Even in todays globalized world we cannot ignore its influence. It’s the west which tries to portray the east always as “a place of romance, exotic beings, haunting memories and landscapes, remarkable experiences” (Said, p.1). They are usually portrayed as cruel, sensual, and lazy, corrupted, and driven by instinctive emotions ‘and so on. Through this representation of the orient the west tries to produce a kind of inferior picture of the east. They do this so that they can continue their imperial agenda under the veil of civilizing the ‘others’.William shakespeare’s The Tempest and Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe portray this notion of the inferior other or the orient through the characters of Caliban and Friday and their relationship with their colonial
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