The Tempest

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The Tempest
The Tempest
A Post-colonial and Cultural
studies approach
Cultural Studies?
• Cultural Studies: branca della ricerca letteraria diffusasi
principalmente in Gran Bretagna nella seconda metà del
Novecento; in questi studi si intende ampliare il settore
classico della critica letteraria, utilizzando contributi che
provengono da altre discipline sociali; nel dettaglio gli studi
si occupano anche di tematiche riguardanti il razzismo, il
femminismo e l’etnicità.
• Gender Studies: “studi di genere”; si intende quegli studi
che analizzano con un approccio interdisciplinare i
significati e gli influssi socio-culturali della sessualità e
dell’identità di genere, in questo caso specifico riferendosi
alla letteratura e alla critica letteraria.
Selected Bibliography
• Octave Mannoni's Psychology of Colonization (1950)
• Frantz Fanon's Black Skin, White Masks (1952)
• George Lamming's
– The Pleasures of Exile (1960)
– Water with Berries (1971),
• Aime Cesaire's A Tempest (1969)
• Roberto Fernandez Retamar's
– Caliban (1971)
– A Grain of Wheat (1967)
• Tra gli altri:
• Works, by Ngugi wa Thiong'o.
• Wole Soyinka, The Dance in the Forest
» Approfondimenti: Fonte molto aggiornata e attendibile è "Colonial Metaphors"
in Vaughan, Virginia Mason and Alden T. Vaughan, eds. The Tempest (The
Arden Shakespeare Third Series) (London: Thomson, 1999), pp. 144-71.
• Négritude is a literary and political movement developed in the 1930s
by a group that included.
– the future Senegalese President Léopold Sédar Senghor,
– The Martinican poet Aimé Césaire,
– the Guianan Léon Damas.
• 1935 – 3° Number of L'Étudiant noir
• 1948 – Jean-Paul Sartre famous analysis of the négritude movement in
an essay called "Orphée Noir" (Black Orpheus)
• The Négritude writers found solidarity in a common black identity as a
rejection of French colonial racism.
• They believed that the shared black heritage of members of the
African diaspora was the best tool in fighting against French political
and intellectual hegemony and domination.
• Négritude  “To Be Proud of Being Black”
Aimé Césaire
• Aimé Césaire (26 June 1913
Basse-Pointe, Martinique - 17
April 2008 Fort-de-France,
Martinique; aged 94)
• He is renown poet, playwright,
and essayist.
• He began a movement called
involving the work of native
Caribbean writers and artists.
• His work has influenced other
writers as well as sociologists
(see Cesaire link below), like
Franz Fanon.
Une tempéte, aprés la tempéte de
William Shakespeare
• A Tempest was originally
written in 1969 in French by
Aimé Césaire, with the
original title Une Tempéte.
• It was translated into
English in 1985 by Richard
• It is written as a postcolonial
response to The Tempest by
William Shakespeare.
Differenze evidenti dal confronto dei testi
• Personaggi:
– Alterazioni:
• Ariel, a mulatto slave
• Caliban, a black slave
– Aggiunta:
• Eshu, a black devil-god.
• Struttura: A Tempest è diviso in tre atti, e non c’è
una diretta e precisa corrispondenza tra le sue
scene e quelle dell’originale shakespeariano.
• Le canzoni di Shakespeare sono rimpiazzate da
canti tradizionali degli schiavi, e da canzoni tipiche
della “working-class”.
Differenze che emergono
dall’analisi dei personaggi
• Prospero è rappresentato come un negriero, sfruttatore
degli schiavi, che trae vantaggio dalle debolezze di Caliban,
utilizzando la sua magia per privarlo della sua libertà.
• Cesaire trasforma Caliban dal selvaggio shakespeariano,
ignorante e anche un po’ ottuso, a un nativo colonizzato, la
cui lingua e cultura ha subito un processo di “displacement”
da parte di Prospero.
• Infatti, il Caliban di A Tempest parla molto più a lungo e si
esprime con strutture complesse e articolate:
– Le ragioni che adduce per rivere la libertà non derivano da un senso
di tradimento ricevuto da Prospero, bensì dalla reazione ad essere
stato conquistato e reso schiavo.
– Quindi, il rapporto “Padre-figlio” ha molto meno rilievo rispetto a
quello di “Padrone-schiavo”.
Concetto di Inferiorità 1
"A white man in a colony has
never felt inferior in any respect .
[ . . .] The feeling of inferiority of
the colonized is the correlative to
superiority . Let us have the
courage to say it outright : It is
the racist who creates his
(Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Skin, 92-93;
original emphasis).
Concetto di Inferiorità 2
• Caliban of Cesaire's Une tempete recognizes
that Prospero's psychology is motivated not by
an inferiority complex, but by a superiority
complex, that his actions do not betray a will
toward change, merely a will toward
increasing power.
• Caliban tells Ariel:
– "You don't understand Prospero, at all, […] He's not
the collaborative type . He's a man who only feels
alive when he's crushing someone. A crusher, a
grinder to pulp, that's yes . That's what he is! And you
talk of brotherhood!".
Prospero-Caliban Relation
• Cesaire represents the colonizer as insulting and ignorant.
• The underlying explanation is that all of the colonizers notions
about the colonized are based on stereotype and fabrication.
• The colonizer doesn’t really know the people he is dominating,
and he doesn’t really care, because that would make the
domination more difficult.
• It is easier to carry on and make sure to belittle the colonized so
things like conscience don’t begin to act up.
• Cesaire makes this obvious in his characterization of Prospero,
ruler of an island with only one native inhabitant, Caliban.
• Prospero calls Caliban an "ugly ape" (11), and another time
comments to his servant, Ariel, that Caliban is "getting a little too
emancipated" (10).
• Prospero has no patience or sympathy for Caliban, and insults his
mother, his island, his native language and his hopes and
• Prospero is in a position of power, but it is obvious that he knows
that position is tenuous. Caliban is a threat.
Ariel’s Speech – III, 5
Ariel: Bored! I fear that the days will seem all too short!
There, where the Cecropia
gloves its impatienthands with silver,
where the ferns free the stubborn black stumps
from their scored bodies with a green cry—
There where the intoxicating berry ripens at the visit
of the wild ring-dove
through the throat of that musical bird
I shall let fall
one by one,
each more pleasing than the last
four notes so sweet that the last
will give rise to a yearning
in the heart of the most forgetful slaves
yearning for freedom!
prospero: Gentlemen, farewell.
(Exit all but Prospero and Caliban.)
And now, Caliban, it's you and me!
What I have to tell you will be brief:
ten times, a hundred times, I've tried to save you,
above all from yourself.
But you have always answered me with wrath
and venom,
like the 'opossum that pulls itself up by its own tail
the better to bite the hand that tears it from the darkness.
Well, my boy, I shall set aside my indulgent nature
And henceforth I will answer your violence with violence!
Prospero’s Last Speech
(Time passes, symbolized by the curtain's being lowered halfway and reraised. In semi-darkness Prospero
appears, aged and weary. His gestures are jerky and automatic, his speech weak, toneless, trite.)
Odd, but forborne time now we seem to be overrun with opossums. They're everywhere.
Peccarys, wild boar, all this unclean nature! But mainly opossums. Those eyes! The vile grins
they have! It's as though the jungle was laying siege to the cave . . . But shall stand firm ... I
shall not let my work perish! (Shouting) I shall protect civilization! (He fires in all
directions) They're done for! Now, this way I'll be able to have some peace and quiet for a
while. But it's cold. Odd how the climate's changed. Cold on this island . . . Have to think
about making a fire . . . Well, Caliban, old fellow, it's just us two now, here on the island . . .
only you and me. You and me. You-me . . . me-you! What in the hell is he up to? (Shouting)
(In the distance, above the sound of the surf and the chirping of birds, we hear snatches of Caliban's song)
Fly UP