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Discipline and Punishment: A Foucauldian Reading of the Tempest

Author HuRenHao
Tutor DongHongChuan
School Sichuan International Studies University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords The Tempest Panopticon Discipline Punishment Resistance Prospero
Type Master's thesis
Year 2010
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In the light of Michel Foucault’s disciplinary and punitive theory elaborated in Discipline and Punish: The Birth of Prison and his related power theory, this thesis endeavors to explore the power exercise mechanism, under which Prospero exerts his punishment and discipline upon his enemies and his disciplined objects attempt to resist his command, so as to reveal that the one in power always manipulates the powerless.This thesis is composed of three parts. The first part is an introduction aimed at making clear the previous study of The Tempest both at home and abroad, the theoretical framework to be used as well as its structure. The second part is main part of the thesis. It is made up of three chapters. Chapter One analyzes the panoptical image of the isolated island, and identifies its function of separate confinement and visible surveillance over the disciplined objects, so as to reveal that Prospero’s power is achieved in the panoptical mode. Chapter Two concentrates on Prospero’s exercise of omnipotent power which is employed to make interference into the education and marriage of Miranda, to realize disperse confinement and revenge over his white political usurpers and practice colonial education and slavery to Caliban. Chapter Three dwells on the resistance under the disciplinary world in order to expose that Prospero’s overwhelming power will inevitably evoke the struggle and fight for power, marriage, freedom, and independence. The third part is the conclusion of the thesis. It summarizes the key points, suggesting that in the world Prospero lives, the power exists everywhere, and the resistance of the objects in disciplinary and punitive society is unavoidably suppressed by the one in power.

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