The Master-Slave Relationship In William Shakespeare's The Tempest

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In A Tempest, Aime Cesaire subverts the master-slave relationship initially presented in William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. His alterations in characterisation and ending, result in the reader’s inability to sympathise with Prospero and lend autonomy to Caliban; and encourage the reader to question Shakespeare’s motives in relation to the ending of The Tempest. By altering Propsero’s backstory, Cesaire expresses his imperial ambitions and hypocrisy; thereby preventing the reader from empathising with him. In Shakespeare’s original play Prospero is on the island because his brother Antonio seizes the throne whilst he is busy with his studies. The reader empathises with Shakespeare’s Prospero as he is robbed of his birthright and cast “Out of dukedom… and Milan” (1.2.126). Cesaire highlights Prospero’s hypocrisy by conveying that he is ready to “take possession” of the lands he has located however, complains about Antonio and Alonso committing acts similar to those he is to perpetrate (Cesaire 7). As they expose him as a sorcerer to the priests at the Holy Office to gain control of the throne as well as acquire his “yet-unborn empire” (Cesaire 7). Through this alteration Cesaire undermines and disqualifies Prospero’s victimhood, thereby preventing the reader from empathising with him. Cesaire utilises the use of Kiswahili by Caliban double fold, firstly as a means of empowering the character of Caliban by decentralising Prospero’s influence on his sense of identity.

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