Monday, August 27, 2007

The Tempest in the Wilderness

The Tempest, the London audience knew, was not about Ireland but about the New World, for the reference to the “Bermoothes” (Bermuda) revealed the location of the Island. What was happening onstage was a metaphor for English expansion into America. (p.29).

The author’s argument throughout this piece revolves around the fact that Shakespeare’s play, The Temptest, represents a prelude to what happened with the Indians from America and the European “invasion” that occurred around the discovery of the Americas and so forth. Also, due to the Tempest, when the Europeans did start conquering the Americas, the perceived the Indians as how Caliban in the play was perceived; as a devil. The Europeans view of the Indians slowly progresses to those of demon-like features, such as their darker skin. Also, they’re ways of living and hunting were perceived as “lazy” in the Europeans eyes, and therefore they thought it was right that they should take over the land and have them farm the correct way. Another part of the argument included the treatment the New Englander’s treated and invaded the Irishmen. Apparently the way that the New Englanders viewed the Irish people were relatively similar to how they viewed the Indians in the Americas. Basically, to the New Englanders during that time period, any way of life that was different from their own was wrong, and in order for lifestyles to be successful and productive, they need to follow the ways of the New Englanders.

Takaki’s argument relies heavily on the Tempest being a direct relation to the creation of England’s new society in America. Although there distinctively is some kind of connection between the play and the views of the Indians being that of the devil, the Tempest cannot be though to completely represent the events that occurred over in the Americas. I agree with him that there is a connection, but there are a few questionable differences. First off, it seems that throughout the time period their portrayals of the Indians slowly changed into that of Caliban in the Tempest. The settlers started off viewing them as though they could use them for labor work and help in the fields. But as time continued on, and the puritan priests started to preach that they are nothing but savage beasts that need to be tamed, that portrayal changed and started treated the Indians as they would bears in the wild. Eventually the full standpoint of the Indians became that they were either “domesticated” into the ways of the New England settlers, or they were hunted and killed. The Indians were given no other choice in the matter. So it is true that the Tempest’s Caliban became how the Indians were portrayed in the new world, but that portrayal was slow and progressively became as it was, and not instant like in Shakespeare’s play.

I thought this reading was very intriguing. I liked how Takaki exposed the correlation between the conquering of the Irish and the Indians, and also giving many valid points of how The Tempest could be seen as an early prediction to what occurred in the new world and the Indians. My point of view towards the New Englanders and how they treated both the Irish and the Indians while “conquering” their homeland still stays the same; their actions are quite appalling and unorthodox on many different levels. I also believe that when the Puritans started preaching that the Indians are devils, and that that when the European diseases greatly diminished their numbers was a sign of God saying that the settlers had a “right” to take over the new land, was complete and utter bogus. I personally think that how they viewed themselves and the way they acted was beyond selfish, and really is an embarrassment to today’s society. Also, now I’m curious about The Tempest, and am now interested in reading the play to see what actually happens. Overall, this article was very interesting, and very informative.

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