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Prospero, the Orientalist in the Tempest

Author FuLiJuan
Tutor WangHong
School Guangdong University of Foreign Studies
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Orientalism Orientalist Shakespeare Prospero
Type Master's thesis
Year 2005
Downloads 164
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Shakespeare’s dramas are treasures to all the people of the world. Different people with different cultural background and different history background will get different analysis from the reading of these plays. The Tempest is the last play of Shakespeare. So this play implicates much Shakespeare’s thinking or understanding to the world of his time. It is from this point that many critics believe that Prospero is Shakespeare himself.The Tempest is a play of too many implications. This paper will analyze it from the perspective of Prospero using Said’s theory Orientalism. In The Tempest, Shakespeare gives us four major roles, Prospero, Caliban, Ariel and Miranda. From the respective relationship between Prospero and the other three, Prospero finishes what an orientalist would do employing the orientalist way. So, Prospero is an orientalist.However, Prospero changes at the end of the play. If leaving the desert island is not in itself a defeat for Prospero, breaking his staff and drowning his book certainly constitute diminishments to the self. These emblems of purified magic were also the marks of his thinking and his power. He gives up his power and his creed. Therefore, Prospero is a loser as an orientalist. Shakespeare depicts an omnipotent magician in the beginning, but he is defeated in the end.Edward W. Said states that orientalism is not a reasonable scholarship which should be resisted and shifted by the scholars. He calls on the scholars today to find out a new ideology about the relationship between the west and the east. They may get confidence from this play since orientalism and orientalists are not unconquerable. In trying to show Prospero’s identity as orientalist and his frustration as orientalist, I hope this paper can offer a re-reading of the play.

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